Thursday 28th July 2016

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

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Pro-abort VP candidate Tim Kaine gets standing O at Mass, bishop mum on denying Communion

RICHMOND, Virginia, July 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-abortion Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine received a standing ovation at his parish on Sunday and several Catholic priests praised his nomination. Meanwhile, as Catholics call for Kaine to be denied…Continue Reading

Anti-abortion duo behind Planned Parenthood videos cleared

HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas judge on Tuesday dismissed the last remaining charge against two California anti-abortion activists who made undercover videos of themselves trying to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood. District Judge Brock Thomas dismissed the tampering with…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Islam is ‘fundamentally a form of government’

Cardinal Raymond Burke said in a telephone interview that Islam is “fundamentally a form of government.” Speaking with Religion News Service, the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta said that “when they (Muslims) become the majority in any…Continue Reading

Nienstedt: misconduct allegations retribution for opposition to gay marriage

In other words, he’s the real victim here. Marino Eccher of the PiPress says, “John Nienstedt, the former archbishop of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul, said accusations of sexual misconduct against him were part of a false smear campaign in response…Continue Reading

5 faith facts on Mike Pence: A ‘born-again, evangelical Catholic’

(RNS) While an official announcement has not yet been made, IndyStar and other media outlets are reporting that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will be presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s running mate. Pence became governor of the Hoosier State in…Continue Reading

Trump In Tatters As Catholic Voters Shift Their Support To Hillary Clinton

A new Pew poll on religion and the 2016 campaign revealed devastating news for Republicans as Catholic voters have shifted their support to Hillary Clinton. A new Pew poll on religion and the 2016 campaign revealed devastating news for Republicans…Continue Reading

St. Anne Catholic Church prepares for 136th annual novena

There used to be a steady flow of stories, tales of miracle cures. They were covered in the Daily Journal, the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, in the early 1900s. The Catholic church in St. Anne, a village of 1,239,…Continue Reading

More deception in the war on Card. Sarah

Speaking at a liturgy conference in London, Card. Sarah, clearly not acting in his role as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, made a personal appeal to priests to say Mass ad orientem and the world is coming down on his head.…Continue Reading

Cardinal Caffarra on Marriage, Family, Amoris Laetitia, & Confusion in the Church

cardc

Editor’s note: the following is an exclusive interview with Cardinal Carlo Caffara, conducted by OnePeterFive’s Dr. Maike Hickson. Cardinal Caffarra is Archbishop emeritus of Bologna and former member of the Pontifical Council for the Family. It was in a letter to Cardinal…Continue Reading

Vatican Liturgy Chief asks all priests and bishops to face east for Mass, faithful to kneel for Communion

LONDON, July 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Speaking at a conference on the liturgy in London yesterday, Cardinal Robert Sarah, the highest authority on the topic in the Catholic Church under Pope Francis, asked all bishops and priests to adopt the…Continue Reading

This priest died in a Korean prison camp. Will the Catholic Church beatify him?

Wichita, Kan., Jul 2, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- There’s good news in Kansas: former army chaplain Father Emil J. Kapaun has taken a step closer to possible beatification and sainthood. But for Scott Carter, coordinator for the Father…Continue Reading

The Affirmative Argument for Receiving Communion on the Tongue

A recent post at the site Roman Catholic Man has focused a great deal of attention on the manner in which the faithful receive Communion. As any discussion regarding the Eucharist is a discussion about Our Lord Himself, the importance…Continue Reading

Newsmax

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 su
bscribe 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

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis on his way to Poland

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is on his way to Poland for his 15th Apostolic Journey aborad and where he will also be participating in World Youth Day events. The Alitalia Airbus A321 on which he is travelling is scheduled to land in Krakow at 16.00. He is accompanied on board the plane by a Pontifical Delegation and some 70 members of the press. Before setting off for the airport a group of young refugees of…Continue Reading

An eighty-four year old priest brutally murdered by Islamic terrorists during Mass in a Church in Normandy – The seed of hate

2016-07-26 L’Osservatore Romano Paris, 26. Shock and horror at the “absurd violence”, radical condemnation for “every form of hatred” and prayer for the victims. These were the first sentiments expressed by Pope Francis – through the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi – at yet another episode of jihadist terror in Francis, barely two weeks from the attack in Nice of 14 July. Two men armed with knives broke into a…Continue Reading

Catholic priest to Tim Kaine: ‘Don’t show up in my communion line’

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic priest asked that pro-abortion Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine “do us both a favor” and not show up in his Communion line. “I take Canon 915 seriously. It’d be embarrassing for you & for me,” tweeted Dominican Father Thomas Petri, the vice president and academic dean of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies.

WaPo: A “Pope Francis Catholic” can have a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood, NARAL

Just one example of how the secular media is going to spin, spin, and spin some more in the quest to provide cover for pro-abort, pro-homosexual politicians. UPDATED (9:15pm, Pacific; July 22): Sen. Kaine has been chosen to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate. In the meantime, CWR’s managing editor, Catherine Harmon, reminded me of this interesting story from last year: U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a practicing Catholic and former missionary, had a clear message Wednesday…Continue Reading

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin . . . VP Pick, Tim Kaine, a Catholic?

From the Facebook page for Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of the Diocese of Providence. Democratic VP choice, Tim Kaine, has been widely identified as a Roman Catholic. It is also reported that he publicly supports “freedom of choice” for abortion, same-sex marriage, gay adoptions, and the ordination of women as priests. All of these positions are clearly contrary to well-established Catholic teachings; all of them have been opposed by Pope Francis as well. Senator Kaine…Continue Reading

Companions Of Jesus

By JAMES DRUMMEY Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Below is a talk given by James Drummey, editor of the Catholic Replies column, at a retreat in Vermont, June 11, 2016. We are publishing his talk in two parts because of its length.) + + + Of all the 73 books in the Bible, only one —…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred . . . The Indissolubility Of Marriage, As Affirmed By The Liturgy

By JAMES MONTI Later this year, as you may have already read, a revised edition of the Order of Celebrating Matrimony is going to be promulgated in the United States, featuring notably a new, more accurate translation of the Latin text revised according to the principles of the Holy See’s 2001 instruction Liturgiam Authenticam. Additionally,…Continue Reading

UN Court Rebuffs China’s Claims To South China Sea

By JOHN J. METLZER UNITED NATIONS — In a major legal setback for Beijing, an international tribunal has rejected and rebuffed many of Mainland China’s claims regarding exclusive sovereignty and rights in the disputed South China Sea. The mid-July landmark ruling in The Hague, by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, stated there was no evidence…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Readings And Meditations For Praying The Rosary

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY How to Pray the Secret Rosary by Frank M. Rega OFS (CreateSpace, 132 pages, Paperback $11.43, ebook $6.30). Available at amazon.com. This slim paperback from Frank Rega gives guidance on how to pray the rosary when you aren’t necessarily able to pray with rosary beads — if you are doing household…Continue Reading

Who Gave Us Justice Ginsburg?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “Her mind is shot.” That was the crisp diagnosis of Donald Trump on hearing the opinion of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the possibility he might become president. It all began with an interview the past week when the justice was asked for her thoughts on a Trump presidency. Ginsburg went…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

From Casuistry To Mercy… Toward A New Art Of Pleasing?

By MSGR. MICHEL SCHOOYANS Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Michel Schooyans wrote the following essay for LifeSiteNews, which graciously granted reprint permission to The Wanderer. The essay is appearing in two parts because of its length; part one appeared in last week’s issue. (John-Henry Westen, editor-in-chief of LifeSiteNews, provided this background information about the essay: (“Msgr. Michel Schooyans, a top…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Profile Of A “Saturday Vigil Commando”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Meet the Saturday vigil commando: She will go to Mass any day of the week, at practically any time of the day, except Sunday. She is a veritable fixture at the Saturday vigil Mass and will even return to the parish on Sundays faithfully once per month to help count the offertory collection, but will…Continue Reading

The Marvel Of The Catholic Church… The Great Catholic Library: The Bible

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 10 “Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ,” said St. Jerome, one of the greatest Bible scholars of all times, who translated the whole Bible from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into Latin in the fourth century — over one thousand years before Martin Luther preached his heresies in Europe. Luther and his followers down…Continue Reading

Liturgical Diversity And Unity

By DON FIER In considering where the liturgy is celebrated, we saw last week that “the worship ‘in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:24) of the New Covenant is not tied exclusively to any place because Christ is the true temple of God” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCCC], n. 244). It is through Him that the…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I would like to know where St. Patrick is buried. — M.A., Pennsylvania. A. St. Patrick, who died in AD 461, is thought to be buried next to Down Cathedral in Northern Ireland. Once a former Benedictine monastery that was built in 1163, the church now belongs to the Church of Ireland and is known as the Cathedral Church…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Olaf

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Vikings! The word Viking comes from a Scandinavian word vik meaning bay or creek, with the extended word meaning pirate. The images the word brings to mind are amazing ships landing around Europe, even on the northeastern fringes of North America, to raid, pillage, and destroy. Although this did happen to some extent, the Vikings also…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. John Cassian

By CAROLE BRESLIN Frequently, the lives of the saints demonstrate that God calls us to go in directions that we would never consider unless it became clear that it is God’s will. St. Francis Xavier went to the Far East, St. Damien died in Hawaii on the opposite side of the world from his native Belgium, and St. John Cassian…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading