“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Saturday, June 23, 2018


[NB: Although this post deals with Catholic Christian traditions, I encourage Evangelical followers of this blog to read it. It may provide some context to understanding the mindset of your Catholic brothers and sisters.] 

St. Vital Church
I worship at a French Catholic church dating back nearly 100 years: Saint Vital on Beaumont, Alberta. Situated on the western Canadian prairies, it harkens back to a time when the church was the center of the community. And that's exactly where Saint Vital is situated in my town: Smack-dab in the center of town, perched at the top of the hill the town is named after. Houses spread out from there. There is a sense of history and French Catholic tradition that seems to emanate from the church. You can see the church from miles away.

Faith, family & community

Saint Vital was built by hardy French Canadian farmers who came
to western Canada from Quebec to homestead the rich land in the area. Their lives revolved around a common faith, family, and a deep connection of interdependent community -- in that order. That is the way its supposed to be. Those pioneers endured, survived and thrived. The original church was destroyed by fire and the new church was built of brick. A walk through the graveyard at the back of the church bears silent and powerful witness to that history and those people.

When my grandchildren were little, they loved to go to "Papa's church" as they called it. In their vocabulary, I'm Papa (don't ask why. It's a convoluted story). Sometimes we would go there when the church was empty. I talked to them about God and the parish history. They loved it. Even as pre-school children, they seemed to desire a connection to what went before.

Catholicism is historically oriented. The Holy Scriptures and Traditions of the Church provide a basis for preserving Christ's teachings, as revealed to the Apostles. It is the basis of revealed truth (cf.  John 1.14, 14.6). It is the root of understanding.

Train up a child 

Proverbs 22.6 says "Train up a child in the ways he should go, and
when he is old he will not depart from it." Some parents have mistakenly thought this is an iron-clad promise from God. I sure did. I thought that if I did my parenting correctly there was a binding promise from God to save my children. The problem with this notion is twofold: One is hard-pressed to find such a guarantee in the Bible (including this verse). The other problem is the issue of free will. Proverbs 22.6 is a proverb, not a promise.  No matter how godly a parent may be, it is not a guarantee of faithful or godly children. Each generation is responsible for its own relationship to God.

Participation with God

I understand that now with the hindsight of an old man. Proverbs 22.6 provides a general principle to be taken in divine balance. There's no magic to it and certainly no guarantees. God will not override humanity's free will of choosing to love him.

As a grandfather, I can only provide a supportive, secondary role to my adult children and convey some sense of the reality of Jesus Christ in my own life and point toward a personal relationship with him as the most critical decision any person can make. The Holy Scripture and Church traditions only provide a framework and context for that.


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