Saturday, February 28, 2009

Catholic Faith Formation - Evangelical Style

Below are my comments to the New Evangelization in America Conference in Dallas on January 31, 2009. I was asked to participate on a panel titled “The Ecumenism of Evangelization – A Protestant-Catholic Dialogue” which was moderated by The Most Reverend Stephen Blaire, Bishop of Stockton and President of the Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs (USCCB). On the panel with me were other Catholics and Protestants.


NEA Comments –SDW 1-31/2009

I am a Catholic of 11 years, having spent the first half century of my life as an active lay Evangelical.

Since my conversion I have spent my time and money on trying to explain Catholic teaching to Protestants through my writing and television series that has aired on 6 different Protestant and Catholic networks through my distribution company, Nineveh’s Crossing.

Our most popular project, COMMON GROUND, was produced by Evangelicals and asks the question “What can Protestants and Catholics Learn from Each other.” There are brochures outside for Nineveh’s Crossing that explain how you can get a copy. The DVD and study guide are being used in RCIA and Bible Study programs across the country.

Our American bishops in “Our Hearts Are Burning Within Us” challenge us that while we may have the fullness of faith, there is much we can learn from the ardor and methods to evangelize which our Evangelical brothers and sisters successfully apply.

In that same document our bishops layout a number of strategies – strategies that I think have solutions found in Evangelical Christianity.

Allow me to mention two.

The first strategy our bishops charge parishes with is LIFE LONG ADULT EDUCATION..
The evangelical solution to that is Sunday School I think there are 10 characteristics that make up a successful Sunday School program, and I think Catholic parishes need to adopt these if they expect Catholics to be Christian.

1. Classes should be PRACTICAL, not THEORETICAL
2. Organize classes around demographic needs of people
3. The classes should be structured to fulfill the community dynamics afforded by small groups
4. Founded on Bible and Church Teaching
5. Enjoy constant promotion from the pulpit
6. Led by gifted volunteer LAY leaders who are great and even charismatic facilitators, who are also leaders in the community and business with evangelical hearts.
7. Classes must be FREE (not $80 for 8 weeks)
8. Meet EVERY Sunday 52 weeks.
9. Meet in platoon fashion with the Mass Schedule
10. You should not consider them a success until their attended by 50% of those that come to Mass.

The second strategy our bishops charge us with is KNOWING THE BIBLE.
The Evangelical solution to that is more emphasis on the Bible, per se.
Here are seven things we can learn from Evangelicals to do that.

1. During the liturgy of the word the reader should begin by saying “Open Your Bible Please and read with me.”
2. Personal Bibles should be promoted and sold.
3. Bible Memory programs and contests for children through adults should be celebrated thru-out the year.
4. TEEN Bible Quizzing and Tournaments (where entire chapters and books are memorized by teens) should be international in scope.
5. Homilies should be preached with the Bible in hand.
6. Parishes should have annual Bible Conferences where expository Bible preaching is perfected.
7. Use the Bible not the lectionary. SHOW the people (physically, visibly, like the sacraments) where the readings are coming from.

These two tactics are among many others highlighted on a webpage titled Best Practices of Faith Formation at my website Please visit.

I’m convinced, from 50 years of exposure to them, that they will significantly help lukewarm Catholics, who tend to go through the motions, become excited about the things of God.

Oh, yes, one last thing:

Fast and pray for spiritual revival in the Church.

Thank you.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Infallible Bible vs. Fallible Church

Dr. Frank Hermann asks this question in his story in the Feb. 2009 Coming Home Network newsletter:

If the Catholic Church was fallible, and therefore the bishops too, who over time came to agree on the canon of books that constitute today's Bible, what if they erred in choosing those books? Many believe the Catholic Church of the fourth and fifth century was not infallible. So, what guarantee do we have that the Bible they gave us is infallible? How can we be sure?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Catholic & Pentecostal Take Coffee

I'm finally trying to dig out my email's in-box. Theodore Frick wrote me back in September 2008:

Dear Stan:

I was sitting in a little coffee shop in Northern Minnesota, a town called Remer. (pop 500) A peaceful man sat at the church sponsored coffee shop and told me that Jesus Loved me as I entered the door. I smiled and said thank you, and was genuinely touched by his demeanor. I entered the coffee shop and was ordering my coffee when the woman at the counter told me to listen to the older woman who started talking about her Rome ministry and her meetings with both JPII and Benedict XVI.

Being a Catholic revert and the town's Catholic evangelist, I was struck by her sincerity and genuine respect for the Catholic faith, even though she was in this Pentecostal coffee shop. I ordered my brew and went outside on the deck to talk to her husband and was warmly greeted and he started talking about his praying in front of the Vatican.

He intrigued me and I started doing research about him, and then I found your blogs and your wonderful and clear writings. The man's name is Martin Lombardo and he has aged much since your photo from last year. I know this is a long rambling, but I really enjoyed your website and the articles you have written for Catholic Exchange.

As a revert to the faith, I want to thank you for making the toughest of choices to become Catholic. The Lord is using converts to put some fire into the pews. I am a Diocesan board member for the Cursillo movement in the Duluth diocese and have been dramatically changed by my encounters with converts. I will pray a rosary for you, and after reading one of your articles, I will put more feelings and concentrations into my daily rosary.

God Bless you

Ted Frick



Thanks so much for your kind and gracious message. It was great to hear that you ran into Martin up in MN. He gets around. Can I post your message to me on my blog? And thanks for your prayers. I'll put you on my blog distribution list, if you aren't already there.




Absolutely, I would be honored. I started reading more of your blogs and had to put them down as they were quite interesting, but I ran out of time. I am a lector at our little rural church and I was allowed to say, the reading begin on page so and so in the missal. Hopefully the parishioners would pick up the missal and follow along. The missal readings all have the scriptural reference on them. Some priests allow that, others do not. I wonder if our retention is better if we follow along or listen in reference? I am fascinated by the men who have the courage to change denominations. I am witnessed it a few times, but am amazed at how important your walk must be to you, to make that big of a change. I once told a room of Catholic gentlemen, that if someone could find more truth than the Catholic church, then I was obligated to follow, that is the kind of conviction we need. Ok, here I go again, rambling on. Have you heard of the Cursillo movement, or the Coming Home Network.

Again, I thank you for showing us the light.



Thanks, Ted.

I heard of the Cursillo movement decades before I became Catholic. My older cousin was a leader in Pittsburgh when I met him. I know Marcus Grodi, and one of my part time employees in the Coming Home Network on-line forum moderator, Dave Armstrong.

I got some significant flack from Catholics about my suggestion to get Bibles and follow along in the Mass. It depressed me because they regarded the Bible as a distraction. One of these days I'll write about the flack I received and how the Catechism tells us to venerate the Bible the way we venerate The Eucharist.

But my point in the blog about Bible reading in the Mass was an early step to get Catholics to read and study their Bibles on their own, daily. I figured the Mass would be a good place to start.



Dear Stan,

An old saying goes something like this. You never know what you have till it is gone, and those that have been spoon fed for long, tend to get lazy. One of the beautiful things about our faith is that there is an abundant harvest right in our own pews. Our little town has 500 or so people and 6 churches. Most people do not want to chase authentic truth, because (as you know) the cost may be quite high. Ok, here is a question for you. Since we now have 40,000 or so denominations, is it the responsibility of the worshipper to know what the church teaches and how severely will God judge us for being complacent? One such example would be a glaring one, the abortion issue. (I loved your Obama reference, as the black culture gets eliminated). If we are on the wrong side of that issue, is it a potentially salvation issue? If I believe abortion is no big deal, and I go to a church that teaches that, will my salvation be at risk? I believe that the answer is yes, but I need to work this through with someone who had the gumption to make the Tiber pole vault. So does believing the false teachings of a lost church an eternal choice? This really started to bother me when I was reading 1 Cor and Paul says? (weak paraphrase here) Are you a follower of Paul or Ananias? I heard that at Mass and shuddered, could we not supplant those names with the names of Martin Luther or the Wesley brothers? Again, you have piqued my interest, so I meander in the theological garden.