Kerygma. Finding Our Way Home Again.

May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world— St. Paul, Galatians 6:14

Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” — Mark 1:14,15

The kerygma — the proclamation of the Good News — is not a ‘traditional’ custom or a certain ‘social practice.’ The kerygma is the joyful announcement that Jesus Christ is a living Person to be encountered, who through his Cross and Resurrection has defeated sin and death.

The term κήρυγμα (kerygma) is a Greek word meaningproclamation.”

The Greek word κηρύσσω (kerysso) means “herald,” or one who proclaims. And thus the kerygma is what is proclaimed.” — Denver

Theology as it is often practiced, taught, and discussed today can be seductive. As an older man, however, and as one who is grateful for the Catholic Faith, even in all of its recent grave troubles, and as much as I am repulsed by Luther, I grow weary with abstruse or otherwise abberant theology put forward by “Progressive” theologians fruitlessly dallying with their favorite theologies of the moment.

It is all so unbiblical and it is spiritually fruitless, even if, alas, it so often fits well with the decadent spirit and media of the times. It is so often merely academic and unmoored from Jesus Christ, “the same yesterday, today and forever,” (Heb. 13:8) and His life-changing Good News for all.

He — Jesus the Lord — heard the cry of our human hearts, and came to “save us from our sins,” loving us “even to the death of the Cross”.

But “Social Justice” in the Catholic sense has never been a substitute for traditional Catholic teaching, but must remain a reflection of it.

I know that the fashionable theologians and their acolytes like to say that their new theologies all stem from Christ. Remotely at best.

The Word is so often lost in love of words and neologisms.

And praxis? Someone has said, “We reached out to the church of the poor in Latin America and the poor became Protestants. Why would we follow that model”?

Thomas a Kempis asked over 500 years ago,

What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone.

“This is the greatest wisdom — to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where eternal joy abides. “— The Imitation of Christ, Bk. 1. ch.1.

If we really care about the poor and poor in spirit in our time, can’t we see that so much of our real poverty today is spiritual poverty, sin and existential lostness, loneliness, and the need to confess and to return Home to Christ (Mt. 11:28-30; Heb. 13:8)? Invitation, Confession, New Life in Christ, all aided and nurtured by those who have made the same journey. Not just priests. Us!

Even Traditionalist-type groups too often put private revelations or profitable obsessive criticisms of everything in place of the proclamation, the teachings, the message of the life-changing Cross, forgiveness and Resurrection, both in preaching and practice, not sufficiently recalling that it was from the foot of the Cross that Our Lady and the Saints magnified the Lord and proclaimed His saving deeds — especially His sanctifying Passion and Resurrection.

Have we forgotten the Way home?

Matthew 1:21

21 she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Phillipians 2: 5-11

I long to hear the Kerygma restored to preaching and meditation. Sin is our problem! Christ and His Cross is our answer. This was the message and way of the original Francis in the 13th century.

St. Paul preaches to the Athenians

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” — Mark 1:14,15

St. Paul testified, “3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Cor. 15)

Sin and redemption, forgiveness, and the road to sanctification.

Tell me, where now are all the masters and teachers whom you knew so well in life and who were famous for their learning? Others have already taken their places and I know not whether they ever think of their predecessors. During life they seemed to be something; now they are seldom remembered. How quickly the glory of the world passes away!” — Thomas a Kempis The Imitation of Christ, Bk.1, ch. 1

That a once much celebrated 20th century theologians are hardly thought of any more except in specialized enclaves is a remarkable affirmation of what Thomas a Kempis reminded us in those first three chapters of The Imitation of Christ.

Not that learning is to be considered evil, or knowledge, which is good in itself and so ordained by God; but a clean conscience and virtuous life ought always to be preferred. Many often err and accomplish little or nothing because they try to become learned rather than to live well.”— Thomas a Kempis The Imitation of Christ, Bk.1, ch. 3

For me the great theologian of our time was, perhaps you guessed it, Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange. Not necessarily because of his ardent Thomism, but because of the palpable life-changing centrality of Christ and the Cross in his theology of sanctification which one can see, hear, feel and taste.

But nothing surpasses the New Testament scriptures themselves. Certainly the Fathers of the Church were ever preoccupied with them. And every Catholic theology must be a theology of sanctification.

It is not Newman’s development of dogma theology that concerns me. It is the Progressivist alleged “evolution” of dogmas from one thing to another that  concerns, i.e., the emptying out of the traditional meaning of dogmas and supplying new and alien meanings never heard of before. As in “rainbow” theology.

We need to return to the Gospel and the original proclamation of it today.— SH

—– See also, Evangelical Catholicism by George Weigel

Progressivist Theology: What it is

May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world— St. Paul, Galatians 6:14

Updated and revised March 2022

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