Tag: i.d.9:16

God’s Word on Sex

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This article is condensed from a talk Joey McCoy recently gave at an i.d.9:16 Disciples’ Night. It originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ August 2019 newsletter.

By Joey McCoy

It’s easy to walk through life believing human beings are the center of everything. But God breathes us into being. We have no claims on God. God has every claim on us. But how does this apply to sex?

When God created spiritual beings, one of them, Lucifer, grew prideful and led a rebellion against God. The few angels who stayed with God defeated Lucifer—whose name changed to Satan, the adversary, the devil. He remains the most powerful thing God created, but now is totally warped and bent.

Unfortunately, we listened to the adversary and believed a liar instead of God. As soon-to-be St. John Henry Neumann said, this was a primordial catastrophe that deeply wrecked our race. We were always meant to become like God, which Eve saw in the fruit. It was to make her wise, and we thought we should become that by grasping, and by making happen in ourselves this gift that was always meant to be given to us, but was intended to simply be received.

Without Jesus, the human race is now senselessly darkened and without hope. We’re exceedingly vulnerable to our adversary, who lies to us and knows exactly how to drive our flesh toward evil. Listening to the adversary—sinning—bring serious consequences. To sin means to place yourself into the hands of a tyrant and a trafficker, to be enslaved. Sin separates us from God and drives us deeper and deeper into sin. If we persist in sin and do not repent of it, those consequences will endure eternally.

However, God wants us to become like Him. To do that, we must strive against the adversary, with God’s help. And in the fullness of time, God calls a people unto Himself so He can enter into the story to bring it to its rightful conclusion. A time is coming when the living and the dead will be judged, and God will bring justice.

This is the stark reality that Jesus reveals about humanity. It can be confusing: Many seemingly good people do not confess Jesus; how can they be in a bad place? We forget that to not love God revealed in Jesus is the most unjust thing anyone can do. It’s horrifying, it’s worse than anything else you can think of, and justice will be done to those who inflict horror upon God.

This very stark picture is why God has always shared with His people, who are meant to be a light to the world:

“I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you this day, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you . . . But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you this day, that you shall perish.” (Dt 30:15-18)

God wants to bring the human race out of this wreckage and to salvation. That’s why He entered into this story and tried to draw close to humanity. There are absolutely only two options: life and death. Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and it is easy that leads to destruction. And those who enter by it are many, for the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life and few there are who are finding it” (Mt 7:13-14).

Jesus loves us and wants us to know the truth. St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas thought a majority of the human race would be lost because of what happened in the Garden of Eden. The narrow way—Jesus—is the only option.

Jesus first mentions sexuality in Matthew 5:27, when He says lust is the same as adultery, one of the Ten Commandments. And not abiding by the commandments means choosing death. We probably have friends who live in persistent sexual sin, and we just go, “Meh.” Considering what Jesus says, what an unloving response that is!

Sexual purity involves eternity. A Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit; what we do with our bodies deeply affects God. To be with God, you must covenant yourself to Him. And woe to the person who defiles what is God’s, even if it’s him or herself. Matthew 15:19 lists adultery and fornication in the same list as murder. That’s pretty striking.

This could be the whole talk: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” (1 Cor 6:9) People often think only Hitler’s going to hell. This tempting heresy, called universalism, is everywhere, but it can’t withstand Scripture: “Neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-10). This means those who engage in this behavior in a consistent, unrepentant way—but that’s still a lot of people! We all struggle, but do we repent? Do we want to walk differently; are we willing to make changes so we can?

God never tires of forgiving. But to live as someone who partakes in homosexual acts, as an adulterer, or in unrepentant sexual immorality brings destruction if we don’t repent and get up again. Conversion means getting rid of this stuff—not seeing how I can follow God while bending rules and dancing on the line.

Jesus wants to rid our heart of the disease and affliction of sin, including sexual sin:

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, ‘The two shall become one.’ But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him . . . Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor 6:15-20)

“You are not your own.” How often does our world not understand that? You have been made one spirit with Christ; therefore, when you become one flesh with someone, Christ is implicated in that. That is why sexual sin matters. Your body does not belong to you; your body belongs to God, just like everything else about you. And that’s actually fantastically good news! Jesus shows us how we stay healthy and how we escape eternal judgment and damnation forever.

If anyone hearing this message experiences condemnation, beware. That is the devil. We should feel convicted. Those are two very different things: God convicts; the devil condemns. If you’re experiencing condemnation, make the sign of the cross over yourself, say Jesus’ name, and tell the devil to go back where he belongs. We all face this struggle. It takes time, and we have to be patient.

Paul teaches in Ephesians that walking in sexual impurity is typical before coming to Jesus, but that we must allow our new life in Jesus to throw off that old cloak. The Church has always been radically different in this. Coming out of that way of thinking is part of Christian growth. Therefore, we ought not to excuse it when we encounter it in fellow Christians.

“And he who sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new . . . As for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death’” (Rv 21: 5-8).

What a passage! The cowardly are in the lake of fire, as well as fornicators—and how easy it is to not live up to things sexually because you are a coward? Praise God for the Theology of the Body and the way it breaks open Scripture to show the immensely beautiful things about sexuality, but may we never forget how high the stakes are! May we hear the warning that our eternal salvation is at stake, and that living in unrepentant sexual sin sends you to hell.

In conclusion, let’s find encouragement from St. Theresa of Avila, who says, “Even if you are committing mortal sins, keep on praying, and I guarantee you that you will reach the harbor of salvation.” Never give up hope! Never stop clinging to Christ! Never stop praying!

Responding to Ezekiel’s Call

Pete Burak speaks at a Millennial Church Conference.

This letter originally appeared in the November 2018 Renewal Ministries’ newsletter.

Dear Friends,

Earlier this year, Peter Herbeck and I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at the Steubenville Power and Purpose Conference. This was extra special for me, since I graduated from Franciscan University in 2010, and the campus holds many life-changing memories for me, including meeting, courting, and falling in love with my wife, Cait. The whole weekend, I found myself continually praising God and thanking Him for the late Fr. Mike Scanlan and all the other faithful men and women who have worked to make Franciscan what it is today (including Sr. Ann, Ralph, and Peter and Debbie Herbeck).

While I thoroughly enjoyed giving my Saturday morning keynote, called A New Vision: Seeing What God is Doing, and interacting with the team and the conference participants, I’d like to highlight a prophetic word the Lord gave me during the Friday evening prayer time. The Lord placed on my heart Ezekiel 37:1-14. In this passage, Ezekiel is brought to a valley filled with dry bones and commanded to prophesy over the bones that they may have new life: “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord” (Ez 37:5-6; emphasis mine).

In a particular way, I believe this passage speaks to the sobering reality presented by my generation and the one following. As a whole, we have radically disengaged from the Church and therefore are coming to resemble more and more the valley of dry bones seen in Ezekiel. God, who is the source of light, truth, goodness, and life, is being rejected, and we need people of faith to stand up and proclaim with clarity and conviction, the “Word of the Lord.” We need disciples who can hear the voice of God and speak out over this generation and prophesy that the Lord desires new sinews, new skin, new breath, and therefore new life! What would our Church, country, and families look like if we who believe proclaimed with prophetic boldness the Good News of Jesus Christ? Ezekiel tells us, “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great host.” May this verse penetrate our minds, break our hearts, and provide a spiritual springboard to wade into this generation with new energy, knowing the Lord desires deep communion with them, and we can and must participate in His saving work!

i.d.9:16 is one of the ways Renewal Ministries is responding to the prophetic call from Ezekiel. We exist to form young adults into intentional disciples of Jesus Christ. This mission has primarily been accomplished through parish partnerships we call chapters, where we provide a vision, training, content, and ongoing resources. Over the past several months, our team has trained three more chapters and have two more scheduled! We value this expansion because of the increased ability to proclaim the lordship of Christ over this generation and help raise missionary disciples who can engage their peers.

Another method of responding to the challenge from Ezekiel is a new initiative from both Renewal Ministries and i.d.9:16, called the Millennial Church Conference (MCC). The MCC seeks to train parishes on how to empower young adults by examining the characteristics and trends of Millennials, analyzing what they are saying to the Church and how the Church is responding, and diving deeper into the importance of evangelization and discipleship for this generation.

We’ve piloted the conference in four dioceses (Milwaukee, Joliet, Rockford, and Green Bay) and we’ve received invitations from several more. We see the MCC as a “professional development” day for a diocese, because priests and their teams receive fresh insights and inspiration for reaching this elusive and often-confusing generation. Here are some responses we’ve received so far:

“This was an extremely engaging, enriching, and inspiring conference! The presenters were enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and made their presentation interesting by using videos, Power Point, and music! I would highly recommend going!” —Lynn, pastoral council member

“The Millennial Church Conference gives insight into the characteristics of the upcoming generation that is the future of the Church. However, this generation is the CURRENT church, and this conference shares the importance of their presence in today’s church.” —Lisa, youth minister

“This conference is absolutely worth your time!!! It is thought-provoking and helps you enter into the life of those in the Millennial generation who actually ‘think’ differently than you might.” —Deacon Hank

Overall, I hope this letter provides a glimpse of hope for the future of our Church and younger generations. While we may be walking through a valley of dry bones, we are convinced the Lord is inviting ALL of us to prophetically speak new life over our friends, children, and grandchildren. May we respond like Ezekiel, with humble obedience, and may we see the dead come alive in Christ, through His Spirit, in the heart of the Church!

Go make disciples!

Pete

The Millennial Church Conference

 

Dear Friends,

Renewal Ministries and i.d.9:16 remain committed and passionate about helping the current young adult generation, or Millennials, become intentional disciples of Jesus Christ. In an effort to expand our efforts, we’ve partnered with Sarah Kaczmarek (Catholic Alpha) and Pete and Emily Burds (Archdiocese of Milwaukee) to create the Millennial Church Conference (MCC). This new initiative seeks to help parishes empower young adults by examining the characteristics and trends of Millennials, analyzing what they are saying to the Church and how the Church is responding, and diving deeper into the importance of evangelization and discipleship for this generation. Additionally, the MCC provides practical strategies for how parishes can take both little and big steps toward making their communities reach both the young adults in the pews as well as those who aren’t attending Mass.

We’ve piloted the conference in four dioceses (Milwaukee, Joliet, Rockford, and Green Bay) and we’ve received invitations from several more. We see the MCC as a “professional development” day for a diocese, because priests and their teams receive fresh insights and inspiration for reaching this elusive and often-confusing generation. Here are some responses we’ve received so far:

 

“This was an extremely engaging, enriching, and inspiring conference! The presenters were enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and made their presentation interesting by using videos, Power Point, and music! I would highly recommend going! —Lynn, Pastoral Council member

•••

“The Millennial Church Conference gives insight into the characteristics of the upcoming generation that is the future of the Church. However, this generation is the CURRENT church, and this conference shares the importance of their presence in today’s church.” —Lisa, Youth Minister

•••

“This conference is absolutely worth your time!!! It is thought-provoking and helps you enter into the life of those in the Millennial generation who actually ‘think’ differently than you might.” —Deacon Hank

 

To signup for the next MCC, to bring the MCC to your diocese, or for more information about the Millennial Church Conference, go to www.millennialchurchconference.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Go make disciples!

Pete Burak

Director

i.d.9:16

Good News for This Generation

Fr Mike and Pete_blog

Fr. Michael Schmitz and Peter Burak share insights on how to evangelize Millennials during lay ministry speaker series.

This post was originally written by Marco Maceri for the Sacred Heart Major Seminary Mosaic blog on November 28, 2017.

Close to four-hundred lay ministers, parish staff, and students arrived on November 9 to Sacred Heart Major Seminary to participate in the annual speaker series for lay ministry In the Heart of The Church.

The enthusiastic crowd, comprised of faithful from the Archdiocese of Detroit and neighboring dioceses, turned out to hear keynote speaker, Fr. Michael Schmitz, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth and chaplain at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Fr. Mike is also known for his “digital ministry” that features engaging videos widely viewed online.

Father Mike’s talk, “Evangelizing Millennials,” focused on how the Catholic Church can better understand and communicate with youth born between the early-to-mid 1980s and early 2000s.

“Successfully delivering the church’s message to them will require a substantially different approach than that used to reach youth just one generation earlier,” said Father Mike.

“Generation X were latchkey kids,” Father Mike said, referring to children who returned from school to an empty home because their parent or parents were away at work, or a child who was often left at home with little parental supervision. “They said, ‘we don’t want to be the kind of parents we had,’ and it gave rise to a generation of helicopter parents.”

Father Mike, a Minnesotan, suggested to laughter that things may have even gone further, referring to some members of Generation X as “Zamboni parents”, a reference to the ice hockey resurfacing machines that smooth out every divot and imperfection in a rink.

According to Father Mike, this condition of over-parenting combined with dramatic shifts in culture have produced a Millennial generation rife with contradiction; racked with fear and despair but anxious to make a positive difference in their world; transfixed by smartphones and tablets but also bound to family and friends; ill-equipped to make or even identify moral choices but embracing the idea of a loving God.

Despite their conflicted nature and polls suggesting a dim view of religion, Father Mike said there is hope yet to evangelize Millennials, as well as great need.

“We have so much in the Catholic Church that can address this culture, as long as we’re not bought into the idea that we have to be the culture or imitate the culture,” Father Mike said, adding that the church can offer freedom and joy where Millennials are stressed and afraid.

“There’s so much Good News for this generation; for this church to step in and be more. Because we need to be more,” said Father Mike.

Following his keynote speech, Father Mike was joined by Peter Burak for an enlivening Q&A session. Peter, a Sacred Heart graduate with a master’s degree in Theology, is the director of ID 9.16, a ministry seeking to establish communities of missionary disciples and provide opportunities for young adults in their twenties and thirties to encounter Jesus Christ, hear His call, and decide to follow Him.

Fr. Mike and Peter discussed various ways ministers can make meaningful contact with a generation of “young people who don’t even know they’re hungry for God,” as Peter called them.

At the end of the day’s events Dr. Matthew Gerlach, dean of the Institute for Lay Ministry and director of online programs, invited attendees to learn more about Sacred Heart Major Seminary opportunities for Lay Ministry Formation.

. . .

Would you like to watch a recording of Fr. Mike Schmitz talk and the Q&A session with Peter Burak? Videos will be posted on SHMS Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.

Photo of Fr. Michael Schmitz and Pete Burak courtesy of Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

Mary’s Example Leads Us into Discipleship

Mary and apostles
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This post originally appeared on i.d.9:16’s blog.

By Joey McCoy

What is the deepest meaning of being a Catholic?

It is being a disciple of Jesus. This is what JPII, who always referred to Mary as the first disciple of Christ, called the ‘Marian profile’ of the faith.

Mary, he suggested, was the first disciple, for her assent to the angel’s message made possible the incarnation of the Son of God. The incarnation had been “extended” in history through the Church, the mystical Body of Christ. Mary’s assumption into heaven prefigured the glorification of all who will be saved. Thus Mary provides a “profile” of what the Church is, of how the people of the Church should live, and of what the destiny of disciples will be . . .

The ‘Marian profile’ in the Church is, John Paul suggested, even “more . . . fundamental” than the “Petrine profile.” Without being divided from it, the “Marian Church”—the Church of disciples—preceded and made possible the “Petrine Church”—the Church of office and authority . . . The two profiles were complementary. But the “Marian profile is . . . preeminent” and richer in meaning for every Christian’s vocation.

Put another way, the deepest meaning of what it means to be Catholic is to be like Mary. She came before Peter, Paul and all the rest. She shows us what we should be. She shows that what it means to be a Catholic is to be a disciple. This is the “preeminent profile” of the Catholic life.

The very first days of the Church, documented in the Acts of the Apostles, further depict this. The early apostolic years of the Church is a Church without buildings, programs, budgets, conferences, theological degrees, academic institutions, books, blogs, Catechism or Bible. It was simply a people obsessed with Jesus and living a new way of life by the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t obsessed with itself (‘ecclesiocentric’). It didn’t even seem to think of itself as ‘a religion.’ The Church was ‘The Way.’ It was a people with eyes fixed on Jesus and hearts set on learning Jesus (what it meant to live His way of life in the world). It was a people incarnating Jesus in the world. It was a people following Jesus into the world and into eternity.

JPII’s words help remind us that absolutely everything we do as the Church must flow from discipleship.

What is discipleship? It is the commitment to be a lifelong learner of Jesus. The commitment to be at His waist, looking over his shoulder, seeing what He does, how He does it and why He does it. It is to become an apprentice of Jesus. It is a complete way of life. It is the process of daily laying yourself on the altar so that the Holy Spirit can reproduce the life of Jesus in you. It is the process of learning to become a “little Jesus.”

This starts with first realizing that Jesus is alive and living within us, by the Holy Spirit given to us at our baptism. This means we can have an ongoing dialogue with Him for the rest of our lives! We can listen to Him, hear from Him, respond to Him. Hence, to be a disciple means essentially to live in two ever-repeating, foundational questions: 1) “what is God saying to me?” and 2) “what am I doing about it?”

Do we live with Jesus like that?

Being Catholic is not about adhering to an ideology. It is about being a people who follow (and therefore incarnate) Jesus, who hear and respond to His call, and thereby live intimately the way of life of the only One through whom we can receive the life of God (the Holy Spirit) and by whom we can be led back to the Father.

Where do we start? With desire. For the next thirty days, take your desire to be more like this into the wilderness of prayer and say: “Jesus, I desire to become more deeply, totally, and radically your disciple. I don’t know how. Help me. Show me the way. What are you saying to me?” Then listen, day after day, and follow Him.