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Dec 16, 2020

The True Cross

The Ascension Team

The sacrifice of Christ should be seen everywhere in our faith, especially in our parishes! Today, Gomer and Dave “Dead-Lifting the Devil” VanVickle answer a listener’s email about evangelizing through the true cross of Christ.

Snippet from the Show

“Preach the true cross, and watch people be resurrected.”


Shownotes

Matt writes:

Dear Dave and Gomer,

First off, thanks so much for this podcast. I always enjoy your conversations, and even though they sometimes make me feel like a failure for not doing all of the amazing things you guys are doing, they nevertheless energize me and give me hope for our ongoing work toward evangelization.

Secondly, how do you guys recommend introducing people to the Cross? To be more specific, I feel like a lot of the issues plaguing the Church today arise from a largely consumer mentality, from thinking that the Church should be what I want it to be. From what I’ve seen, many people view the Church as being constituted by “the will of the people,” rather than by the atoning love of Christ upon the Cross (CCC 766). Others think the liturgy should be celebrated in accordance with our personal preferences, rather than inviting us into a posture of receptivity so as to receive God’s Word in a fruitful and transformative way.

I think the Cross stands at the heart of addressing this issue. But, of course, the notion of self-renunciation is not an alluring message. The freedom and peace that Jesus alone can bring are easier to “market” (not that we’re trying to sell something), and yet a message that stops short there preaches a kind of “cheap grace,” in the words of Bonhoeffer. How have the two of you struck a balance between the Cross and the Resurrection in the task of evangelization? Thanks again for everything!

Gomer and Dave’s Answer

You are not a failure. We do these things, but we also steal from one another all of the time and sometimes our projects fail and our best laid plans go up in smoke. Never forget that the medium is the message and sometimes we sound better than we really are.

Responding to “how do you guys recommend introducing people to the cross? …the notion of self-renunciation is not an alluring message.”

On a human level, this is very true. No one is leading with, “Hey, deny yourselves” to sell a product. You appeal to the carnal side of the human heart, the side that is easily swayed with pleasures and longs for permission to indulge. This is what St. Thomas Aquinas said about the widespread appeal of Islam 600 years ago. This is also the number one critique of Big Evangelicalism, that it appeals to not just the human side, but the carnal side. This is the side that seeks affirmation at all times, that seeks positivity and vague spirituality, that turns God from the Father into the Grandfather.

On the other hand, self-renunciation on a human level can be alluring today. We see that anything worth having requires sacrifice. Anything worth something demands something from me. There is a growth in industries and fads of things that are difficult are worthwhile: CrossFit, weight-lifting, body-building, Stoic Philosophy, The analogies with sports, with intellectual pursuits, with craft, with career, with philosophy- all of this takes time + effort + deliberate practice + sacrifice + humility. Anything. Why should the faith be any different? The cross is not just self-renunciation, but is ultimately glorification and deification. This St. Paul’s point in 1 Cor. 9 about “running so as to win” an “imperishable crown” and thus he does not “box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it.”

You say it is not alluring, so then we flip that around: then why did Jesus do this thing for you? Jesus does not demand more from us than what he has already given to us in the first place. This is St Paul’s argument in Romans 5. You and I would barely die for a good person, a loved one, that none of us would dare die for an evil person, an enemy, or a criminal. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…”

Practical Takeaways

  1. Intercessory Prayer: Pray for two people that need the cross or need the comfort of the cross 
  2. Examination of Conscience: when has your Christian walk taken a consumeristic turn towards self-indulgence or personal preference?
  3. Do an act of penance – fasting, almsgiving, or extended prayer – for your local parish priest who may be struggling with consumerism or personal preference

Resources

Meet Your Hosts


 

Michael “Gomer” Gormley

Michael “Gomer” Gormley

Michael has been leading evangelization and ministry efforts for the past ten years, both as a full-time parish staff member and as a speaker and consultant for parishes, dioceses, and Catholic campus ministries.

Michael is also the founder and creative director of LayEvangelist.com, and the producer and cohost of a Catholic young adult podcast Catching Foxes, which discusses the collision of Faith and Culture.

He is married to his college sweetheart, Shannon, and they have about 1,000 children and get about 3 hours of sleep a night, which is alright by him.

 

David “Dave” VanVickle

Dave VanVickle

Dave VanVickle fell in love with the Lord at the age of fourteen and has since dedicated his life to bringing others into a radical relationship with Christ.

Dave is a speaker and retreat leader who focuses on proclaiming the universal call to holiness, authentic Catholic spirituality, spiritual warfare and deliverance. Additionally, Dave has over ten years of experience assisting Priests with their ministries of exorcism and deliverance.

Dave resides in Pittsburgh with his wife Amber and their five children: Sam, Max, Judah, Josie and Louisa.

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