Friday 22nd August 2014

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Kerygma, Didache, And The New Evangelization

June 20, 2014 Frontpage No Comments
christ

By PHILIP TROWER

Some of the things our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been saying since he became Pope about the way the faith should be presented and taught as a preamble to the new evangelization have unquestionably ruffled a few feathers. However, I have increasingly come to think that there would be less misunderstanding if more people were aware of a development that has been taking place in the Church’s thinking and teaching on this subject over the last 50 years. This development seems to have begun at the time of Vatican II, and, in a modified form, has been accepted by subsequent Popes and episcopal synods.
But only, I would say, in the last few years has a significant section of the theologically-minded faithful become aware of it.
It involves making a distinction, when considering or talking about the Church’s beliefs, teachings, and practices, between what are now called the kerygma and the didache, both Greek words.
Kerygma, which carries with it the idea of a herald blowing a trumpet to announce or proclaim some important news, is used to describe what are held to be the most characteristic features of the initial apostolic teaching or “proclamation.” The apostles and the first generation of Christians were not propagating a religious philosophy, based purely on human reason and human wisdom like that, say, of Confucius. They were announcing a message of salvation achieved by a Divine-Human Person, whose witnesses and representatives they claimed to be.
The point is made with particular force by St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians. With characteristic irony, the Apostle to the Gentiles there describes what he is preaching or proclaiming as “the foolishness of God” in contrast to the “wisdom” or philosophy admired by the Greeks.
The apostles were heralds of a supernatural mystery having crucial implications for the whole human race, past, present, and to come; a message requiring a response from the heart and will as much as an intellectual assent by the mind. “Repent and believe the Gospel.” “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Rather than proposing a system of religious beliefs and ideas, the apostolic kerygma, one could say, is announcing a series of astonishing natural-supernatural facts of recent origin.
Explaining or justifying the facts is the role of didache, or the detailed religious instruction we now call catechetics.  This is given after the proclamation of the message has, with the help of grace, and in some cases miracles, been accepted. Didache has its origin in the fact that the kerygma or initial apostolic proclamation is not all self-explanatory or systematically organized.
Almost as soon as the proclamation has been heard and accepted, the new Christian starts to ask questions: Why, how, or “when you say such and such, what does it mean”? And the attempts to answer these questions, as they have been put to the Church down the ages by succeeding generations, have given rise to those great storehouses of the Church’s dogmatic, doctrinal, and theological teaching — the works of the Church Fathers, the acts of her councils, the Summae of the medieval scholastics and so on, or that most recent addition, the Catechism of the Catholic Church — which are one of the glories of her existence.
The kerygma or initial apostolic proclamation, its range and style, are best seen and appreciated in the Acts of the Apostles, better indeed than in the Gospels which go way beyond it. And important to remember too is that for its first audiences the kerygma was not something totally unheard of. The apostles were addressing Jews and telling them about their long-awaited Messiah. For the Jews the proclamation was mainly about the fulfillment of prophecies. It was only after St. Peter’s visit to Cornelius and the turning to the Gentiles that the kerygma became a complete novelty for the majority of its hearers.
The first people to think of making this distinction between kerygma and didache were the Protestant theologian Rudolph Bultmann and an associate called Dodd for reasons which it is not necessary to go into in this article.
The only point I will make here is that, in the hands of thinkers hostile to Catholic belief and practice, distinguishing between the kerygma and the didache can be and has been used as a way of devaluing or dismissing much or all of the latter. The kerygma alone is important. The rest of what passes for Christian belief and teaching is mostly just man-made stuff.
Included in this category of doctrinal iconoclasts one regretfully has to place Catholic theologians who, since the Second Vatican Council, have been anxious to get the Church to drop, change, or adapt this or that one of her teachings. However, other theologians, those with a genuinely Catholic cast of mind, have seen in the kerygma-didache distinction a means of overcoming what they consider had become a too-rationalistic presentation of the faith.
From the Catholic standpoint, as we shall see in a moment, kerygma and didache are not in opposition. They are to be seen as complementary, fulfilling different roles or needing more or less emphasis in varying circumstances. Put at its simplest one could say that emphasis on the apostolic kerygma is considered best for the evangelization of new peoples who have never heard of Christianity, or the de-Christianized populations of the West, many of whom are now equally ignorant. Didache comes in once they are established in the faith in degrees and forms suited to their level of education and culture.
With too much didache too soon or in too much detail, it is felt, the faith can lose its freshness and come to seem like a philosophy. The challenging nature of what is preached loses its force and the elements of mystery and the supernatural fade. A missionary, for instance, preaching the Gospel to a new people for the first time, does not begin with a string of arguments for proving the existence of God, or a list of quotations from the fathers and doctors of the Church in support of belief in the Real Presence. Were he to do so, the beauty and, dare I say it, “magic” of what he was saying would cease to be felt.
This, judging by some of his off-the-cuff remarks, is, I would suggest, the view of Pope Francis. There is an affinity, it seems to me, between what he has been saying on this subject and the reactions of Thomas à Kempis and the adherents of the 15th-century movement known as the devotio moderna to late medieval scholasticism. (Thomas à Kempis is the author of the Imitation of Christ.)
How much of the didache, or the totality of the Church’s teachings, should the faithful be expected to know? Pius XII, I seem to remember, said it should be on a level with the rest of their education. So if they have been to a college of any kind or are IT experts that would mean they ought certainly to be able to understand the Catechism of the Catholic Church in its longer or shorter forms.
A story, I recall, from the life of St. Francis of Assisi throws a nice light on the question. When a poor old woman said to him that it surely wasn’t necessary for her to know a lot of theology to get to Heaven, his reply was roughly, “Not for you, but it is for the Church.”
The key point in the thinking of those members of the Magisterium who are for promoting the kerygmatic approach seems to be that the faithful should never be allowed to fall into thinking that being a Catholic means, first and foremost, belonging to an institution with a set of rules and regulations to be obeyed, and providing certain goods and services mysteriously necessary if one is to spend eternity in the right place. An outlook of this kind can only be the path to routine, tepidity, loss of the young, and the death of any missionary spirit.
If on the other hand the young can be persuaded or convinced that as Catholics they have been called by an all-loving Creator to be His agents in propagating a message about a supernatural mystery of crucial importance for the whole human race, and to help Him to activate it, the situation is surely more likely to be different. Being a Catholic is, in essence, being caught up into this awe-inspiring supernatural mystery. It is this kind of outlook which the kerygma, as we have it in Scripture and tradition, has kept alive in each generation.
As for guidelines for activating the mystery, we have the fact that we share in our Lord’s threefold office of prophet, priest, and king. The prophetic office calls us to be witnesses to the truth, natural and supernatural, at all times and in all circumstances. Our priestly office is well summarized by St. Peter in his first epistle and in the third eucharistic prayer. “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Thus St. Peter. And the third eucharistic prayer? “You never cease to gather a people to yourself so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name.” As for fulfilling our kingly role, I would say it amounts to fulfilling what Holy Mother Church calls the “duties of our state” as fully and faithfully as possible.
Here now are some relevant quotations from the recently canonized John Paul II and from the 2012 Synod on Evangelization.
John Paul II: “The vital core of the new evangelization must be a clear and unequivocal proclamation (kerygma) of the person of Jesus Christ, that is, the preaching of his name, his teaching, his life, his promises and the Kingdom which he has gained for us by his Paschal Mystery.”
“In the complex reality of mission, initial proclamation has a central and irreplaceable role, since it introduces man ‘into the mystery of the love of God, who invites him to enter into a personal relationship with himself in Christ’ and opens the way to conversion. Faith is born of preaching, and every ecclesial community draws its origin and life from the personal response of each believer to that preaching. Just as the whole economy of salvation has its center in Christ, so too all missionary activity is directed to the proclamation of his mystery” (Redemptoris Missio).
“The subject of proclamation is Christ who was crucified, died, and is risen: through him is accomplished our full and authentic liberation from evil, sin, and death; through him God bestows ‘new life’ that is divine and eternal. This is the ‘Good News’ which changes man and his history, and which all peoples have a right to hear” (Redemptoris Missio).
“Thus through catechesis the Gospel kerygma (the initial, ardent proclamation by which a person is one day overwhelmed and brought to the decision to trust himself to Christ) is gradually deepened, developed in its implicit consequences, explained in language that includes an appeal to reason, and channeled toward Christian practice in the Church and in the world” (Catechesi Tradendae, n. 25).
The many texts by Pope Benedict emphasizing that the faith is first and foremost entering into a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ are of the same order. And here is the 2012 Synod on Evangelization.
“The ‘first proclamation’ is where the kerygma, the message of salvation of the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ is proclaimed with great spiritual power to the point of bringing about repentance of sin, conversion of hearts, and a decision of faith. At the same time there has to be continuity between first proclamation and catechesis which instructs us in the deposit of faith.”
The synod fathers then recommend “a pastoral plan of initial proclamation, teaching a living encounter with Jesus Christ.” This pastoral plan would include “systematic teaching on the kerygma in Scripture and Tradition…teachings and quotations from the missionary saints and martyrs in our Catholic history that would assist us in our pastoral challenges today,” and “guidelines for the formation of Catholic evangelization today.”
What is most noteworthy, I think, about all these quotations is that, while recognizing a distinction between an apostolic kerygma and its subsequent development into a systematically organized didache, the authors do not see in this any grounds for decrying the importance of the latter or excluding the role of reason.
This is in marked contrast with a distinguished Catholic author I read recently who seems to have been swept off his feet by his discovery of the kerygmatic approach. To my astonishment he claims that we should no longer say, “The Church teaches.” We should only say, “The Gospel says. . . .”
This would be understandable in a good Christian evangelical brought up to believe in Luther’s sola Scriptura as the sole source of divine Revelation. But it can hardly be the starting point for a Catholic “new evangelization.” For Catholics the Church is Christ living and teaching through it in the here and now. The person comes before the message.
However, I don’t want to end on a negative note.
Like so much in the Church and the faith, getting the right relationship between kerygma and didache is a matter of keeping what at first sight appear to be complementary opposites in balance. God’s justice and mercy are not conflicting realities. Nor are kerygma and didache, or the roles of faith and reason.
Also worth comment, I think, is that with its belief in the Real Presence, its practice of reserving the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle, and its encouraging of eucharistic adoration, the Church provides its children with a means of developing a personal relationship with Christ incomparably superior to any other.
To sum up, what the Magisterium would appear to have been saying on the subject of this article amounts to this. The didache or fully developed teaching of the Church must never be presented in such a way that its luxuriance or symphonic grandeur overshadows or makes inaudible the apostolic proclamation which is its heart and soul.

+    +    +

(Philip Trower, a longtime contributor to The Wanderer, is the author of Turmoil & Truth: The Historical Roots of the Modern Crisis in the Catholic Church and Danger to the State: A Historical Novel. He lives in England.)

wandererad(3)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Slain journalist James Foley on praying the rosary in captivity

August 20, 2014 08:45 EST By Catherine Harmon The news broke late yesterday that Islamic State jihadists executed freelance journalist James Foley and posted a video of his beheading. Foley, 40, had been missing for two years while covering the conflict in Syria.…Continue Reading

Black Mass Organizers Face Lawsuit Over Stolen Host

Oklahoma City, Okla., Aug 20, 2014 / 11:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Organizers of a satanic black mass slated to take place in Oklahoma City next month face a lawsuit on grounds that the consecrated Host used for the sacrilegious event…Continue Reading

Archbishop of Mosul: ‘I Have Lost My Diocese to Islam; You in the West Will Also Become Victims of Muslims’

At our pro-Israel rally on Sunday, leaders from across the world warned the crowd of the impending threat of Islam to America. One million Christians have been killed or have had to flee Iraq because of persecution by jihadists. But…Continue Reading

Pope Francis profoundly saddened by death of three relatives in traffic accident

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has learnt of the tragic death of three of his relatives in a traffic accident in Argentina and is “profoundly saddened.”  The Director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi said the Pope had…Continue Reading

The present, future, and quality of Catholic online education

An interview with Patrick Carmack, President of the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program, about Catholic online education, technology, and Great Books August 15, 2014 07:48 EST Patrick S. J. Carmack, J.D. is the President of the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program, and the founder…Continue Reading

Pope makes silent anti-abortion statement in South Korea

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — Pope Francis has generally avoided hot-button “culture war” issues like abortion, arguing that the church’s doctrine on the sanctity of life is well-known and that he’d rather emphasize other aspects of church teaching. But he made a strong,…Continue Reading

Pontifical Council For Interreligious Dialogue Slams Islamic Caliphate Crimes And Barbarism

Caliphate militants are responsible for inhumane actions like public executions, humiliation of women, and terror towards Christians, Yezidis and members of other religions. The Vatican body calls on Islamic religious leaders and governments to condemn these crimes and prosecute their…Continue Reading

Incoming Roman Catholic Springfield bishop on gay marriage: ‘God made us male and female’

Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, will be installed as the ninth bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, on Aug. 12 at 2 p.m. at St. Michael’s Cathedral, with a public reception at…Continue Reading

Liberia: Nun dies of Ebola virus, two missionaries ill

A nun working in Liberia has died of the Ebola virus. Sister Chantal Pascaline worked with the Hospitaller Brothers of St John of God. She died in Monrovia on Saturday. Two colleagues from the same order, Spanish priest Father Miguel…Continue Reading

Kurtz: New Catholic Teachers Shouldn’t Be Afraid

A group of about 750 Catholic school teachers, principals and Jefferson County school officials crammed into pews and chairs at St. Gabriel Parish in Fern Creek Friday morning for a mass service to ready the staff for the coming year.…Continue Reading

Send An Email Or Write A Letter To The Mayor Of Oklahoma City To Protest Black Satanic Mass At Civic Auditorium

Here is a copy of an email sent to the Mayor of Oklahoma City.  I think this man did a great job and we can use it as an example of what we can send.  Thank you to all of…Continue Reading

ISIS Closes In On Christians in Dramatic Overnight Development

Pope, Iraq’s Chaldean patriarch issue emergency appeals. ISIS, the radical Islamist group that forced Christians out of Mosul with the threat of death, has taken control of most of the villages of the Nineveh Plain, the northern area where Iraqi…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope Francis Calls Parents of James Foley

foley

American Journalist Was Murdered by Islamic State This Week Rome, August 22, 2014 (Zenit.org) Junno Arocho Esteves Pope Francis has called the parents of James Foley, the American journalist who was killed by the Islamic State (ISIS). In an email to ZENIT, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi confirmed that the Holy Father telephoned John and Diane Foley. Although no details were given as…Continue Reading

Pope at Audience Warns Against Evil One Who Sows Discord Between People, Nations

But Says We Can Have Victory If We Remain in God’s Love  Vatican City, August 20, 2014 (Zenit.org) Deborah Castellano Lubov Reflecting on his five-day apostolic visit to South Korea that concluded Monday, Pope Francis affirmed that Christ never diminishes or cancels something ‘good,’ like culture, he only enriches them, and brings them to their full potential. Speaking to the thousands gathered for…Continue Reading

Democracy And Despotism

By DONALD DeMARCO Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America was recognized from the first as a political treatise of the first order. It remains today, according to scholars of American history, as the most perceptive and penetrating work of its kind. The author does not idealize democracy. His intention was to show “to those who…Continue Reading

The Ivy League Admission Process

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK If watching the Ivy League grads in the Obama administration and the State Department has led you to question the caliber of modern Ivy League universities, you may be onto something. (Can you picture these Valley girls and pajama boys in the same room with Vladimir Putin’s aides?) William Deresiewicz, the…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “The Strange World Of Margaret Sanger’s Birth Control Review”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of 900 of the best quotes from The Birth Control Review, organized by topic, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) +    +    + Introduction About 25 years ago, I bought a complete set…Continue Reading

Christians In The Mideast… Experience A Modern Calvary

By JOHN J. METZLER PARIS — The headlines seem from another era, if not century: that of Christian persecution by militant Islamists in the Middle East. Yet the modern political responses to this age-old conflict appear ambivalent about what’s emerged as an organized attempt by the militant Islamic State to impose a caliphate both on…Continue Reading

America’s Question: Cut Or Crash?

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY On the last day of July, with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives serving as copilot, President Barack Obama flew the United States past a dubious fiscal landmark on our way toward what increasingly looks like a crash landing. That day, the federal debt hit $17,687,136,723,410.59 — an increase of roughly $7…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. I saw a letter-to-the-editor recently that asked why, if a member of the Mafia is to be excommunicated for cooperating with murder, then why isn’t a member of any group that murders unborn children (or enables the killing, e.g., politicians who vote for abortion bills) also excommunicated? The editor made no comment, but how would you respond to this…Continue Reading

Living According To The Word

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Second Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Jer. 20:7-9 Romans 12:1-2 Matt. 16:21-27 In the second reading today, Jeremiah cries out to the Lord in his loneliness and pain, saying that the Lord duped him and that he had allowed himself to be duped. This is because the word of the Lord brought him derision…Continue Reading

Memorial Of St. Alphonsus Liguori… Marian Catechists Strive To Imitate The Mother Of God

By RAYMOND CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: Raymond Cardinal Burke is the prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. He delivered the homily below on August 1 at the Marian Catechist Consecration Weekend, held at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, Wis. (The readings for August 1, the Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, were: Romans 8:1-4;…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… How Catholics End Up As Practical Protestants

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The Church is in the business of making Catholics, of proclaiming and calling all to the fullness of saving truth in Jesus Christ our Lord. Our mission to those who doubt or refuse some of our teachings is to call them to that fullness, whether Catholics already in our pews or Protestant brothers and sisters…Continue Reading

Is Mary The Mother Of God… Or Only The Mother Of Jesus?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 3 Responding to a common misconception among separated brethren and ill-informed Catholics: What did the Early Christians believe about the Catholic doctrine on the divine Motherhood? Those men, women, and children who sacrificed everything for the true faith in Jesus — even their very own lives? They were imprisoned, tortured, murdered. Some were burned…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . Pope St. Pius X

By CAROLE BRESLIN This month the Catholic Church celebrates the 100th anniversary of the death of Pope St. Pius X who had so many things in common with the last few Popes. Like Pope Francis, he had a special affinity for the poor — especially since he came from a poor family. Like Pope John Paul II, who updated the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Maximilian Kolbe

By CAROLE BRESLIN During the Final Discourse, our Lord speaks to His disciples at the Last Supper about union with Christ, union with the Father, and the coming of the Holy Spirit with the theme of love woven throughout the night’s sharing. “Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).…Continue Reading

What to Do If Your Boyfriend Wants You to Get an Abortion?

by Krisi Burton Brown | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/20/14 4:00 PM Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — Note: This article is for any girl or woman who is feeling pressured into having an abortion. If you are a guy who is trying to find out how to stop an abortion, please see this article written for dads. 1.  Stand your…Continue Reading

It’s Time to Build Schools, from the Ground Up

February 13, 2014 by Anthony Esolen   It might have been worth repairing, if it had once been noble and beautiful, or at least conceived in an orderly way, for ordinary human purposes. But it wasn’t. It was constructed upon false principles. Its walls looked like those of a bad factory. It smelled like a warehouse. It could be terribly…Continue Reading

Why I am Pro-Life

February 4, 2014   Pro-Lifers   By Therese Recinella   Editor’s note. This tribute was posted on Therese Recinella’s Facebook account. She is graciously allowing us to reprint it in NRL News Today.   There are many things that I could say about my Dad, but what I want people to know is this: My parents faithfully raised 8 children…Continue Reading

Fathers . . . The Essential Role of the Father

Posted on February 10, 2014 by The Catholic Gentleman 13 Comments   Divorce rates skyrocketing; adultery rampant; non-married cohabitating couples; children abandoned by their fathers or mothers; “same-sex unions” adopting children and calling this the “modern family”; pornography invading homes, leading to powerful addictions and total alienation from other members of the family: all of this is a bird’s eye view…Continue Reading

How Much is One Billion Dollars?

This article appeared in the March 20, 1941 issue of The Wanderer. (Well, 70 years later we can add 15 trillion into the example.) Here’s a simple and homely illustration of what one billion dollars amounts to: Suppose we take an imaginary boy, aged 15 years, and assign to him the task of counting one billion dollars in one-dollar bills.…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood

This article appeared in The Wanderer, April 3, 1941.  (WOW, Look what we have 70 years later.) A group which calls itself the National Committee for Planned Parenthood has begun a nationwide campaign to have the promotion of birth control included in State and national health programs. The committee—which, according to propaganda sheets reaching our desk has a branch in…Continue Reading

Questions of Non-Catholics . . . Answered by Father Richard Felix, O.S.B.

Reprinted from The Wanderer April 10, 1941 Why Does God allow us to be tempted? God allows us to be tempted so that we may prove our attachment to him and merit a higher place in heaven. Temptations are the lot of all men; they are the battle ground upon which heaven is won or lost. “The kingdom of heaven…Continue Reading