55 Days on the Road of Discipleship A Journey Through the Beatitudes

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At the end of our diocesan conference, it happened to be the Feast of St Barnabas and I named Barnabas as an additional patron saint of this diocese in the coming years. I enrolled everyone there into a new Society, the Fellowship of St Barnabas and enrol you all in it as well today. It has one purposes, to build each other up in courage and boldness in our discipleship and ministry now and in the years to come.


  1. How do people come to faith? Catechesis - Bishop Steven's Blog.
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May God bless you richly in these final hours of preparation before your ordination as priest and deacon and in all the years ahead. I look forward to serving with you. Liverpool Cathedral hosts an Urban Lecture each year for clergy working in inner city or outer estate areas. I was the guest lecturer in June and chose to speak on developing disciples in the city.

The lecture incorporates some recent reading and reflection on the theme of catechesis and how best to scope new work on the catechism, part of the national Reform and Renewal programme of the Church of England. It is an honour to be invited to give this third Liverpool Cathedral Urban Lecture. I come with some credentials and experience in urban and outer estate ministry. From until , I was Vicar of Ovenden in Halifax, a parish which consisted of large council estates built between the wars.

The parish was in the 20 most deprived in the then Diocese of Wakefield and was classified as an urban priority area. It was then a white working class community. The health of the population was poor. I went from taking the funerals of people in their eighties in my curacy parish to taking funerals of people in their fifties and sixties in my first years as Vicar. Dean Clough had closed a few years before I arrived and United Biscuits closed in Patterns of family life were chaotic.

Depression and suicide were relatively common. Educational achievement was low. Just as we left the parish in , the Ridings School achieved national notoriety and was closed because of violence breaking out in the classroom. I arrived in Ovenden two years after Faith in the City had been published, to considerable acclaim within the Church and opprobrium beyond it [1].

David Sheppard, then Bishop of this Diocese was vice-chair of the commission which produced the report. Several people now in Sheffield were very connected with the report. By , Faith in the City had begun to shape urban and outer estate ministry, and rightly so. Every parish was encouraged to undertake a mission audit, to engage with the needs of its community, to serve the whole parish and especially the poor. The Church Urban Fund was established to provide resources, on which we drew over the coming nine years. In Ovenden, as in many parishes, we developed initiatives with the elderly, with the unemployed and for young families.

We grew a network of playgroups and toddler groups. I was a governor of the two local schools, networked regularly with social workers and police working on the estates, developed after school and school holiday care and so on. This year marks the 30 th anniversary of Faith in the City, an event which does not seem to have been marked. It remains in my view, one of the most impressive and far reaching Church of England reports in my lifetime and I think will continue to be visible in history a hundred years after its publication.

As someone who has been involved in producing some more modest national Church of England reports, I pay tribute to all those involved. Their work has stood the test of time. I would also pay tribute to the Church Urban Fund, past and present and all the initiatives developed under its aegis. However, I do believe now, with hindsight, that Faith in the City has a missing chapter. It would cover the intentional building up of the Christian community at the heart of the church and the parish: prayer, evangelism, apologetics, catechesis; the making and sustaining of disciples; intentionally developing the faith of children and young people; growing the community of the church so that, in the words of Bishop Paul Bayes, a bigger church can make a greater difference to the communities we serve.

All Christian communities decline naturally unless there is intentional engagement with teaching the faith to enquirers and to the young. As our communities decline so the impact of those communities in all kinds of ways grows less. Faith in the City was developed in a season when there was something of a dichotomy between evangelism on the one hand and social action on the other. It played its part in helping younger evangelicals, including me, to embrace fully an agenda of serving the whole of society and seeking its transformation.

But the report does nothing to highlight the critical tasks of evangelism and catechesis to draw children and young people, women and men to Christ and to be Christian disciples as of equal importance in the building of the church and the blessing of the city. There are those who see that dichotomy and tension as continuing in the life of the Church of England. Some read the story of the last thirty years in this way.

This focus on numerical growth has moved attention away from social and political engagement, the service of the poor and the transformation of society. I want to resist that reading both of the historical narrative and the present priorities of the Church of England. My alternative narrative is that Faith in the City was developed in a short period when there was a dichotomy between evangelism and social action in the Church of England.

It is not evident from onwards.

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The authentic Anglican understanding of mission embraces both evangelism and the growth of the church in numbers and depth of discipleship and community service and social action. That is our DNA caught so beautifully in the marks of mission and in the ministry of figures such as William Temple. The embracing of evangelism and catechesis does not mean the forsaking of community service and transformation and investment in the growth of the church does not mean and should not mean the abandonment of community service and social action.

We witness in the pattern of the incarnation. It will involve loving service, generous self giving, seeking the well being of the city. The best vision statements in the life of the Church of England at the present time seek to capture that comprehensive vision for mission. The goals we have worked with in the present quinquennium nationally are about spiritual and numerical growth; serving the common good and re-imagining ministry.

The vision statement for the Diocese of Sheffield is intentionally framed to capture this comprehensive vision for mission:. We need a both-and mission. But that both and will include evangelism and catechesis and all the other disciplines of evangelization as a key part of urban ministry. We need to develop disciples in the city. But with a perspective of more than 25 years, some things stand out as good decisions. One of the best was the decision to set aside an evening a week every week to teach the faith to enquirers and new Christians. Over nine years, hardly a week went by when I was not involved in teaching the faith in that way.

When one group ended, another began. The smallest group was half a dozen people. The largest was around thirty. That medium sized urban congregation grew steadily largely through adults and children and young people coming to faith and becoming established in faith and continuing in their discipleship. Most had very little or no church background.

The material we developed in those groups eventually became part of a set of materials published as Emmaus [5]. I wrote about what we were doing in a couple of small handbooks [6]. The growth of the church meant that we were able to grow and expand the good work we were doing on the estates of Ovenden.

The good work we were doing meant a steady stream of new contacts, some of whom wanted to discover more about Christian faith. Catechesis, teaching the faith well, was the missing key to developing disciples in urban ministry.

Journey of Discipleship: The Precepts of the Church

Part of my inspiration in rediscovering catechesis came from an earlier and deeper tradition in Anglican life. Baxter was Curate in Kidderminster from to He focussed his ministry on catechesis and in particular teaching the faith from house to house, with remarkable effect. His work inspired many subsequent generations of Anglican clergy in all kinds of situations. Last year I was invited to write a paper for the General Synod on the subject of Developing Discipleship. One of the recommendations of that paper was that the House of Bishops commission work on a revised catechism.

I am currently involved with others in scoping that work and as part of that, I am exploring the history of the present catechism, a revised version of the form found in the Book of Common Prayer. It was published in and is sadly now quite rare. It is fascinating in all kinds of ways. The ordinary parish clergy of the Church of England invested a huge amount of time and energy in catechesis in the first two hundred years after the Reformation.

They were after all seeking to teach the Christian faith with a renewed and Protestant interpretation in the English language for the first time in the history of these islands. They took seriously the call to make disciples. Between and , how many published catechisms, aids to teaching the faith, do you think might have been printed in England?

Bear in mind that printing was in its infancy and publishing was closely regulated. The answer, according to Ian Green, is over 1, We still have all or part of over of them. Many were bestsellers. Some were so successful that they were pirated. Catechesis was a new discipline in This was a period of slowly rising literacy.

The catechism was most commonly printed with a short primer setting out the alphabet, used to teach people to read. Catechisms were produced at three different levels according to Green: beginners, for children and the unlearned; intermediate for slightly older children and those who wanted to go deeper; and advanced, full theological texts and expositions of the catechisms. These were part of the essential task of all of the ordained.

Leading theologians of the day would publish their catechetical sermons as a means of teaching the faith. Most catechisms followed the fourfold shape of teaching though the order varies. The catechism lacks a section on the sacraments. This was added in But apart from that alteration, the catechism was the common factor through these years. These lessons were often reinforced through these key texts being reproduced in the fabric of the churches built in this period.

A key part, perhaps the key part, of the role of the minister was to teach this faith, publicly and privately, in every parish in the land. There was agreement between Anglican and dissenting churches on the benefits of catechesis and broad agreement on doctrine. The key catechism for the Church of England remained the catechism.

The key catechism for the dissenters became the Westminster Shorter Catechism of Catechism took place in church, in the home and in the schools across the land. Catechizing was required of the clergy in the canons and there is evidence of complaints being brought by church wardens when this duty of teaching the faith was not fulfilled.

Ian Green draws out from all of these 1, printed catechisms, the benefits of catechesis. These are described often in the preface to the published works as the bishops and clergy encourage one another to teach the faith. I believe each of them is relevant today [9]. It seems to me that each of these benefits of catechesis is as relevant today as we teach the faith as it was in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Church is faced today with the challenge of teaching and communicating faith to a population of adults, children and young people which understands very little of Christianity.

We need once again to make a massive investment and to master these basic skills of disciple making. There is a need to teach people the way of salvation; to help them understand and navigate the scriptures; to induct people into the life of the Church and the sacraments; to distinguish true doctrine from false and to promote virtue and dissuade from vice. If we were reframing these purposes of catechesis today, I would want to add a sixth. The Protestant Reformation, as we understand it now, was not strong on mission to and within our own communities.

The Christendom mentality carried over from the Catholic to the Protestant countries for the whole of this period. I would want to add therefore a missional dimension to catechesis and frame that in this way. Our calling is to induct people into the Christian way of life not only in the Church but in the world. In addition to these benefits for those who are catechized, there are clear benefits for the Church which invests in and reflects on how it teaches the Christian faith from generation to generation.

These are some of the reasons behind my hope that the Church of England is about to blow the dust off its catechism, currently stored near the back of the cupboard in the vestry, hidden behind the old hymn books and sadly neglected. The benefits of catechesis for the Church which practices it begin with two gains of inestimable value. They are the whole ball game. The first is the benefit that children are more likely to grow up within the family of the Christian faith for the whole of their lives.

The second is a steady stream of adults joining every parish church and Christian congregation year by year such that these communities grow. However there are further, deeper benefits. These include clarity about and confidence in our doctrine, the syllabus of catechesis. This is probably the generation of Anglicans which is most careless of doctrine than any since the Reformation. They include developing a common understanding and resources in education, though that will be very different from the sixteenth century.

They include benefits in the development and growth of clergy and lay ministers: the surest way to understanding something is of course to teach it to others, over and over again. So what might contemporary catechesis look like and how might it be applied in the present day Church of England and especially in urban areas? How do we and should we develop disciples in the city? Here are two decisions I have made as a contemporary bishop in an urban setting which I hope will stand the test of time.

The first is to hold before the Diocese of Sheffield the importance of catechesis as the key to our renewal and growth although I seldom use the word in public. For six years now I have urged every parish to recover the lost disciplines of catechesis and become skilled in them. These lost disciplines are very simple. Learn to sow the good seed of the gospel to those outside the church. Teach the faith to enquirers and new Christians. Deepen the faith of every disciple. We need to become once again a teaching church. These disciplines should be a call on the time of every priest and deacon, modeled by the bishops, and a call on the time of many lay ministers.

It is difficult to do all of this at the same time particularly in a smaller parish with stretched resources. For that reason, in Sheffield, we encourage all our parishes to follow a simple annual cycle. We set aside ten days of prayer from Ascension to Pentecost to pray for the growth of the church and for the gift of new disciples. We ask every parish and fresh expression to focus on sowing the good seed of the gospel in August, September and October. We ask every parish and fresh expression to offer some kind of course for enquirers and new Christians between October and Easter to teach the faith simply, engagingly and well to those who want to learn more.

We ask every parish and fresh expression to deepen the faith of every Christian disciple between Easter and the summer. We have taught the virtues of this cycle many times in deaneries and parishes and at diocesan events. Since we first articulated this cycle we have been round it some five times. This year we moved all of our confirmations into the period from Easter to Pentecost. My normal expectation from next year is that most parishes will bring candidates most years even if only a handful of people.

There is a sense that the cycle gets deeper year by year and we become a little better at recovering these skills. We still have a long way to go. There are many parishes where these disciplines were simply not being practiced and had not been for many years. Last week at our first Diocesan conference for twelve years, I asked people to put their hands up if they had run a nurture course in the last year or were planning to put run one in the next year. Every hand went up. It was a moving moment. Catechesis is unspectacular, faithful, unglamorous work but is right at the heart of what it means to be a priest or a lay minister in the Church of England.

It is also one of the most rewarding of disciplines according to every survey and the single factor most likely to make a difference to the growth of the church. If we are serious about developing disciples then every local church, every parish, every fresh expressions needs to become a place of Christian formation, the making of disciples. That will mean many things but the most essential is good, loving, catechesis: careful and regular teaching made available about the heart and core of the Christian faith and setting aside time in the clerical week to invest in that patient and regular teaching.

The second decision I made, with others, was this: to invest time and energy in the development of new catechetical resources for the whole Church. The House of Bishops in this quinquenium has produced a major new resource for teaching and learning the faith: Pilgrim [10]. Pilgrim is based on clear, solid catechetical principles. The annual cycle from the Diocese of Sheffield is part of the way we suggest parishes use the materials.

I am one of four core authors but we have drawn on the gifts of many bishops and theologians in the Church of England and beyond. We have added in the Beatitudes, the fourth key text often used in catechesis in the patristic period and commended in recent Anglican resources. There are resources of encouraging mature discipleship. We hope that Pilgrim will encourage other forms of catechetical preaching and teaching, taking the whole community back to these fundamental texts. Publication was completed in February of this year. The reception of Pilgrim has been extremely positive. Parishes of different persuasions and traditions are using the material.

People are encountering Christ afresh. The sales of the books have been remarkable. There is interest already from other parts of the world. The educational method used in Pilgrim is, of course, different from the catechetical work of the sixteenth century. Fundamental to the Pilgrim material is the careful reading of short passages of scripture and the reflection on these passages by the whole group in the pattern known as lectio divina [12].

Are there particular themes and emphases in making disciples in the city and in urban ministry? Cities are varied places and one of the keys to effective catechesis is that the style and manner of teaching should be adapted to the audience. In our day we need our beginners material, our intermediate material and our advanced material. But there is no doubt whatsoever that the place where we struggle the most is the material for beginners. Simplicity is elusive for Anglicans when it comes to teaching the faith.

The same was true of our forebears. From there was a constant tension between simplicity to enable the faith to be taught to those who knew nothing and complexity adequate to the subject matter. Catechisms had a tendency to grow longer which made them both hard to memorise and difficult to understand and, of course, to teach. It was amended only once, in , with five new questions on the sacraments.

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Otherwise it stood the test of time rather well. The production of the Revised Catechism of , still authorized for teaching, succeeded in adding a great deal to this material and almost doubling the length of what was to be taught and learned. The Pilgrim material works well in many different contexts.

Users tell us that they adapt it for use in non book cultures or non literate contexts, which is vital. I think that if there are any future developments of Pilgrim they should be towards developing even simpler resources for use with children and young people and with those in urban areas. There is much more to making disciples in the city than the teaching material and style. It has to do with going to where people are, with practical expressions of love, with walking with people who have chaotic lives, with striving to build community, with prayfulness and holiness of life.

But simple, careful teaching and learning is at the heart of this task of developing disciples in the city. I spent 3 days last week in Stuttgart in Germany as a guest of the something called the Kirchentag. There were 30, active participants and over , visitors to different events all across the city. The programme is half an inch thick and includes conversations on every possible subject. I was there to meet with German pioneers and to take part in a seminar on the English experience of forming fresh expressions of church.

But the whole event got me thinking…. So how about an annual Sheffield Christian Festival? One which tries to draw together every stream of the Christian church in the city and region and celebrates our common faith? Can you imagine it? Sheffield is already a city renowned for its festivals. We have DocFest and a live music festival and a comedy festival annually. We have strong local festivals in many parts of the city. Why not a celebration of Christian faith right here where we are?

But camping is not really that appealing. And it would be hard to offer something for everyone in a single event or style. So how about something stretching over a long weekend which draws people into the city and celebrates all the different churches have to offer?

Almost 25 years ago the churches of this city and region combined in a remarkable way for Mission England. Many still remember that as a high point of collaboration. There was much fruit. Over the last couple of months there has been a new beginning with church leaders from different streams coming together to pray.

Perhaps the idea of a City Festival is part of the answer. Not all of them are good ones. Those who work with me sometimes bear the scars and have learned to sit on me from time to time. How about it? First one in ? Developing Discipleship aims to renew and deepen a conversation about discipleship across the Church of England.

The conversation will begin in General Synod when we meet in February. I hope it will happen in local churches and in dioceses in the coming months. At the February General Synod, the paper will provided a context for the important conversation and debate about the reports from the four Task Groups to be published later this week. Jesus calls us all into a rhythm of life which is about loving God and loving our neighbours as ourselves. That rhythm begins with our baptism whether as children or adults. The whole Church is called to be and to become a community of missionary disciples.

The call to grow the Church is a call to make disciples, who will live out their faith in the whole of their lives. The call to serve the common good is a call to every Christian disciple to make a difference in their home, in their workplace, in their wider community. The call to re-imagine ministry needs to begin with the call to every Christian to live out their baptism, their lifelong commitment to Christ.

I hope the paper will provoke debate. The paper has been through several versions following discussions in the House of Bishops and and the Archbishops Council. I had to tear it up and start again more than once. The final result is far from the last word. However, I hope it will be useful to parishes and dioceses as well as to the General Synod. There are three main recommendations. These have been developed by the Education Division, the Ministry Division and Mission and Public Affairs as a follow up to research in dioceses.

The second is to deepen the conversation. The third, to the House of Bishops, is to commission new work on revising the catechism, a much neglected summary of discipleship and what Christians believe. She tells Bishop Steven about her own life and her work as our new discipleship enabler. This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. The New Testament The term catechesis is used from the New Testament onwards as a term for Christian formation and preparation for baptism and lifelong discipleship.

The Early Church Catechesis in the early centuries of the church was the work of several years of formation and instruction. England from In the Archbishop of Canterbury and the English bishops agreed a Lambeth declaration. England from The English Reformers faced a new challenge: the teaching of the recast and reshaped Anglican faith and identity to a population learning to read in the midst of a technological and political revolution. From to the present day John and Charles Wesley and the Methodist movement make a very substantial contribution to the English tradition of catechesis through the creation of special provision for adults who are seeking to learn the faith through bands and classes.

You can read the sermon here Last week the Church of England General Synod strongly encouraged parishes and dioceses to prioritise evangelism and witness with younger people. You can read about the Centenary Project here. Our first four workers are now in post and their work is bearing fruit. We have excellent training courses to help people who want to take the first steps. If you want to do something for the young people in your Church take a look at Aurora. If there is nothing happening in your parish for young people, the place to begin is prayer.

But as a Diocese we believe we need to support this in four key ways: By offering frameworks of support and patterns of life which help every church grow its own culture of discipleship. By offering training and support in discipleship to complement what the local church can offer. By identifying obstacles to growth in discipleship in our life and culture and developing strategies to address them.

By helping to form lay and ordained ministers who are equipped to grow the church in this way. Reform and Renewal is part of an answer to these vital questions. The Engine Room: what are the proposals? Five years ago, the General Synod of our Church agreed three core priorities. A culture of discipleship First I hope and pray that every church will become better at making and sustaining and equipping disciples: that Christians will understand their faith better, share it more confidently, live it out more fully. Senior leaders Fourth I hope and pray the senior leadership of the Church of England in 10 years time will be better equipped for their task and more representative of the church we are called to lead: male and female, black and white, from a wider range of backgrounds, well prepared and committed to ongoing learning.

Communication in a digital age Finally, I hope and pray we will be much more effective at communicating our faith in a digital age. So what is Reform and Renewal about? Resources for discipleship and growth Focusing energy on our core tasks Every local church having the ministry it needs Equipping senior leaders Better digital communication These are not the whole agenda by any means.

And finally…. Launch of the Crossroads Mission Welcome to the Archbishop, to all of our visiting bishops and their teams on behalf of the whole Diocese of Sheffield. A story from Acts It is an honour to take part in the Kirchentag and thank you for your welcome. What has happened in the Church of England? What lessons have we learned about mission? The whole Church and every church needs to be mission-shaped Once that work is done it is possible to see instantly that we are not talking about fresh expressions of church which do mission and parish churches which do not.

The 7 disciplines are: Prayerful discernment and listening contemplation Apologetics defending and commending the faith Evangelism initial proclamation Catechesis learning and teaching the faith Ecclesial formation growing the community of the church Planting and forming new ecclesial communities fresh expressions of the church Incarnational mission following the pattern of Jesus [3] As part of that investment in evangelism, the House of Bishops have developed Pilgrim to encourage catechesis across the Church of England, in all kinds of expressions of church [4].

What lessons have we learned about ecclesiology? We need to think and talk about the Church Developing new forms of church shifts ecclesiology to the centre of the theological agenda. We need language to describe different forms of church working together It is vital to develop a both-and approach to parish churches and to fresh expressions. What lessons have we learned about encouragement? Encourage fresh expressions as you do fresh expressions We have learned to encourage fresh expressions in the same way as we do fresh expressions. A principled and careful loosening of the structures The best policy we have developed has been about removing obstacles rather than creating templates or strategies.

John the Evangelist. Heeding the message of Jesus Christ to Go therefore and make disciples of all nations Matthew , the Apostles traveled East and West to all parts of the known world to spread Christianity. Andrew , Peter's brother, was the first to be called to follow Jesus, and is called by the Byzantine Church the Protoclete , meaning the first called. Andrew evangelized Byzantium, appointed Stachys Romans the first Bishop there, and was crucified in Patras, Greece. James , the son of Zebedee and brother of John, is believed to have preached in Spain; he is the only Apostle to have his martyrdom recorded in the Bible Acts John , the son of Zebedee and the brother of James, was the "one Jesus loved.

Christ on the Cross entrusted his mother Mary to John , who took her with him to Ephesus; he was later exiled to the island of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation in his elderly years Revelation He stayed in Jerusalem and is believed to be the writer of the Letter of James in the Bible. But when he put his hand in the Lord's side, he reacted with a beautiful profession of faith: "My Lord and My God" John Thomas traveled through Chaldea and Persia all the way to India!

Little is known about Simon the Zealot or Matthias. The early Christian Church was faced with spreading the teachings of Jesus Christ throughout the world, often during a time of martyrdom and intense persecution. The Apostolic Fathers were a group of early Christian writers who knew one of the Apostles and lived about AD, and sought to define, organize, and defend the faith, such as Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Rome, Polycarp of Smyrna, and the author s of the Didache.

Ignatius of Antioch was designated Bishop of Syria by St. Peter on his trip to Antioch to meet St. Ignatius was the first to use the term Catholic Church in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans. The word catholic means universal and refers to the universal Church of Jesus Christ. Ignatius of Antioch would not worship the Emperor Trajan, and thus was placed in chains and martyred in Rome when thrown to the lions in the Coliseum. He wrote seven letters on his trip to Rome, which proved to be a unifying event for all of the early Churches.

He established the Church hierarchy of bishop, priest, and deacon for the early Churches, the pattern which still exists today. In his First Apology written in , he described the Memorial of the Last Supper on Sunday, one that would be called the Divine Liturgy in the East and the Mass in the West, an event which has remained essentially the same for nearly years.

For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these, but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God Christianity spread throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa. The Eastern Christian Churches are characterized by a rich heritage with Apostolic origin, and are treasured by the universal Church, for the East was the home of Jesus Christ our Redeemer!

Jerusalem is the birthplace to all of Christianity throughout the world. The Levant, the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, served as the cradle of Christianity. Antioch, Syria became an early center for Christianity, especially following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

Indeed, followers of Christ were first called Christians in Antioch Acts They also became known as Nazarenes Acts , particularly in the East. Mark the Evangelist founded the Church of Alexandria, Egypt. Eusebius of Caesarea in his Ecclesiastical History reported that King Abgar of Edessa was afflicted with illness and contacted Jesus in the hope of a cure. Upon his healing by St. Jude Thaddeus , King Abgar converted to Christianity. Edessa became home to such writers as St.

Ephrem wrote his beautiful hymns and religious poetry in Syriac, a dialect of the Semitic language of Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Syriac became the biblical and liturgical language of early Christian Churches in the East. The theology of Eastern Churches often developed independently, outside the sway of Roman and Byzantine thought.

Eastern Christian Churches allow clerical marriage , for they accept the gift of human sexuality given by God, who said, "It is not good for the man to be alone" Genesis Christians were severely persecuted through three centuries of the Roman Empire, especially at the hands of Nero 64 AD , Trajan , right up to Diocletian But their powerful witness through martyrdom only served to spread Christianity! Constantine became Emperor of the West in As he was in Gaul at the time, he still had to capture Rome where Maxentius held sway.

Welcome relief from Christian martyrdom came with the Edict of Milan in , through which Constantine and Licinius, the Emperor of the East, granted Christianity complete religious tolerance. His defeat of Licinius in made him sole Emperor of the entire Roman Empire, and he moved the seat of the Empire to Byzantium in and renamed it Constantinople. Constantine considered himself Christian and did much to protect and support Christianity. Sunday as the Lord's Day was made a day of rest, and December 25 was celebrated as the birthday of Jesus.

He restored property that once belonged to Christians. Peter in Rome. Christianity remain undivided until mankind sought to define the hidden nature of God and the mystery of Christ. A dispute concerning the relation of the Father and the Son arose in Egypt known as the Arian controversy.

The Nicene Creed was expanded and finalized at the Council of Constantinople in to include homoousios for the Holy Spirit as well, by quoting John , "the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father," to form the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed still called the Nicene Creed. Constantine considered himself both head of state and father of the Christian Churches. There were three stages in the formation of the Gospels: the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, the oral tradition of the Apostles, and the written word. The Tradition of the Fathers of the Church was important to early Christianity, for they were the ones who chose those inspired books which best reflected the life and teachings of Jesus Christ in the formation of the canon of the New Testament, and were also involved in the interpretation of Scripture.

Jerome that "Matthew put together the sayings of the Lord in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could" Papias, in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History , III, 39, Catherine's Monastery on Mt. Jerome was commissioned by Pope Damasus in to produce a new Latin translation of the Bible. Jerome completed the translation of the New Testament Gospels into Latin in , and finished his translation from both Greek and Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament by In view of his work, St.

Jerome was named the Father of Biblical Scholars. The Latin Vulgate Bible published by St. Jerome served as the standard Bible for Western Christian civilization for over years. He was born in Tagaste, near Hippo, in north Africa. His mother St. Monica was a devout Christian and taught him the faith.


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However, when he studied rhetoric in Carthage, he began living a worldly life. He obtained a post as master of rhetoric in Milan, accompanied by an unnamed woman and child Adeodatus, born out of wedlock in The woman soon left him and their son, and Monica joined them in Milan.

Under the incessant prayers of his mother, and the influence of St. Ambrose of Milan, he eventually converted at age 32 in AD. Perhaps the most eloquent examination of conscience is found in The Confessions of St. Augustine , where he describes his moment of conversion in the garden reading St. Paul to the Romans , But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the desires of the flesh. Both his mother and son died soon afterwards and he returned in to his home in Tagaste. He was ordained a priest in , and became Bishop of Hippo in Augustine was people-oriented and preached every day.

Many of his followers lived an ascetic life. He had a great love for Christ, and believed that our goal on earth was God through Christ himself, "to see his face evermore. Augustine was one of the most prolific writers in history, and his writings show an evolution of thought and at times a reversal of ideas, as seen in his Retractations.

His Scriptural essays on Genesis and Psalms remain starting points for modern Biblical scholars. His commentary on the Sermon on the Mount is still read today. Perhaps most debated are his views on predestination. Augustine is the doctor of grace. In his book Grace and Free Will , he explained simply why he believed in free will. If there was no free will, then why did God give us the Ten Commandments, and why did he tell us to love our neighbor?

Augustine's arguments against the Pelagian heresy set the doctrine of grace for the Catholic Church to the present day. Pelagius thought that man could achieve virtue and salvation on his own without the gift of grace, that Jesus was simply a model of virtue. This of course attacks the Redemption of man by Christ!

If man could make it on his own, then the Cross of Christ becomes meaningless! But Augustine saw man's utter sinfulness and the blessing and efficacy of grace, disposing man to accept his moment of grace, and hopefully ultimate salvation. Grace raises us to a life of virtue, and is the ground of human freedom. Perhaps one of his greatest works was The City of God, which took 13 years to complete, from to History can only be understood as a continued struggle between two cities, the City of God, comprised of those men who pursue God, and the City of Man, composed of those who pursue earthly goods and pleasures.

He refers to Cain and Abel as the earliest examples of the two types of man. The Roman Empire was an example of the city of man which had just been sacked by Alaric in and was the occasion of the book. Augustine was a living example of God's grace that transformed nature. He died August 28, , during the sack of Hippo by the Vandals. August 28 is celebrated as his Feast Day in the liturgical calendar. Pope Leo entered the Papacy at a difficult time.

Alaric had sacked Rome in , and the Huns and the Visigoths were gaining strength. However the Pope proved to be a master statesman and history has deservedly accorded him the title of Pope Leo the Great. One of his first actions in was to bless the missionary efforts of St. Patrick and to ordain him as Bishop of Ireland. A tension in Church authority between papal leadership and collegiality of the bishops was developing over theological questions.

Rome was the place of martyrdom for Saints Peter and Paul. Rome's position as the capital of the Roman Empire was also supportive of a leadership role for the Bishop of Rome. The Bishop of Rome as successor to St. Peter was the Pastor and Shepherd of the whole Church, as seen with St. The independent Church of the East in Persia believed in two distinct natures dyophysite in Christ and did not accept the wording.

Pope Leo synthesized the thought of the differing Schools of Antioch and Alexandria in a letter known as the Tome. The Council of Chalcedon in was the Fourth Ecumenical Council, which supported Leo's stance that Christ had two natures, Divine and human in perfect harmony, in one Person or hypostasis. This set the theology for Roman and Byzantine theology and was important for European unity.

Just one year later , Attila and the Huns were threatening outside the walls of Rome. Pope Leo met Attila, who decided to call off the invasion! The Monastic Orders have been a premium influence on the formation of Christian culture. For not only have they been islands of asceticism and holiness that have served as ideals to a secular world, but also they have provided many if not most of the religious leaders within each historic age, especially during times of renewal and reform. The word monos is the Greek word for one or alone. Monasticism began in the East and spread throughout Europe and saved European civilization.

The practice of leaving the ambitions of daily life and retreating to the solitude of the desert was seen throughout Palestine, Syria, and Egypt, St. John the Baptist Mark an early example. The father of Christian monasticism was St. Antony of the Desert , the first of the Desert Fathers. Antony of Egypt took to heart the words of Christ to the rich young man, " Go sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven" Matthew He headed across the Nile to a mountain near Pispir to live a life of solitude, prayer, and poverty. Soon many gathered around him to imitate his life, living as hermits in nearby caves in the mountain, and in he emerged from solitude to teach his followers the way of the ascetic.

He then moved further into the desert by Mount Kolzim near the Red Sea, where a second group of hermits gathered and later formed a monastery. He lived there for 45 years until his death in Maron , a contemporary of St. John Chrysostom, was a monk in the fourth century who left Antioch for the Orontes River to lead a life of holiness and prayer. As he was given the gift of healing, his life of solitude was short-lived, and soon he had many followers that adopted his monastic way. Following the death of St. Maron in , his disciples built a monastery in his memory, which would form the nucleus of the Eastern Catholic Maronite Church of Lebanon.

The fall of the Roman Empire to the barbarian invasions left European civilization in disarray, for the social structure under one ruler in Rome was destroyed. The preservation of culture and the conversion of the barbarians to Christianity was left to an unlikely group: the monastics of Europe. Their missionary efforts converted one tribe after another, so that eventually all of Europe was united in the worship of the one Christian God.

Patrick as Apostle to Ireland founded the monastery of Armagh in and other monasteries throughout Ireland. As the social unit in Ireland and much of Europe at the time was the tribe in the countryside, the monastery was the center of Church life and learning. The Irish monks that followed him converted much of northern Europe.

Journey Through The Holy Land

The lasting legacy of the Irish monks has been the present-day form of confession. In early times, penance was in public and severe, often lasting for years, such that Baptism was generally postponed until one's deathbed. The Irish monks began private confession and allowed one to repeat confession as necessary. The monk St. Benedict was born in Nursia of nobility but chose a life of solitude in Subiaco outside of Rome.

Soon he moved nearby to build a monastery at Monte Cassino in and there wrote the Rule of Benedict. Monte Cassino placed all of the monks in one monastery under an abbot. The guiding principle for the monastery was ora et labora , or pray and work. The monastery provided adequate food and a place to sleep and served as a center of conversion and learning.

Known for its moderation, Monte Cassino and Benedict's rule became the standard for monasteries throughout Europe and the pattern for Western civilization. The first monk to become Pope was St. Gregory the Great Born to Roman nobility, Gregory at first pursued a political career and became Prefect of Rome. However he gave up position and wealth and retreated to his home to lead a monastic life. He was recalled to Rome and soon was elected Pope in and served until his death in A man of great energy, he is known for four historic achievements.

His theological and spiritual writings shaped the thought of the Middle Ages ; he made the Pope the de facto ruler of central Italy; his charisma strengthened the Papacy in the West; and he was dedicated to the conversion of England to Christianity. Gregory sent the monk Augustine to England in The conversion of King Aethelbert of Kent led St.

Augustine to be named the first Archbishop of Canterbury. Soon English Benedictine monks were being sent to convert the rest of Europe, such as the English monk Winfrid, better known as St. Boniface , who served from as the Apostle to Germany.

HISTORICAL FOUNDATIONS OF CHRISTIANITY

Boniface in his conversion of Germany. His son Pepin and the Papacy formed an historic alliance. Pepin needed the blessing of the Pope in his seizure of leadership of Gaul from the Merovingians. Pepin died in and divided his realm between his two sons, Carloman and Charles. Charles, known as Charlemagne , took over all of Gaul upon the death of his brother in , and soon conquered most of mainland Europe. He was a vigorous leader and ruled until Charlemagne was a strong supporter of Christianity.

During his reign, Christianity became the guiding principle of the Carolingian Empire, as the Church established a powerful presence throughout Europe. He instituted a school of learning in his palace at Aachen. In the Middle Ages there was in theory a division between temporal power and spiritual authority, but in practice one saw a strong Emperor take control of some spiritual affairs and a strong Pope take control of some affairs of state. Charlemagne, as Constantine, considered himself the leader of Christendom as political head of state and protector of the Church.

The historian Christopher Dawson called this the beginning of medieval Christendom. The Byzantine Empire of the East, with its capital in Constantinople, flourished for a thousand years. The Empire reached its zenith under Emperor Justinian, the author of the Justinian Code of Law, who ruled from to Justinian built the beautiful Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople in , which became a center of religious thought. The Byzantine or Greek liturgy is based on the tradition of St. Basil and the subsequent reform of St. John Chrysostom.

The Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius brought Christianity to Moravia, and Cyril created the Cyrillic alphabet for their liturgy, which became the basis of the Slavic languages, including Russian. Kiev was once the capital of the country of Kievan Rus, which comprised the modern nations of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. In the sixteenth century, a Russian mystic Philotheus of Pskof noted that Rome and Constantinople, the second Rome, had fallen, but "Moscow, the third Rome," stands.

The Russian Orthodox Church today is the largest Eastern Orthodox faith with over million members. One of the most tragic events in Church history has been the Schism of between what is now the Catholic Church in Rome and the Byzantine or Eastern Orthodox Church in Constantinople. The actual event occurred on July 16, The abrasive Cardinal Humbert laid a papal bull of excommunication after Pope Leo had died on the altar right during the Liturgy at the Church of Hagia Sophia, which led the Eastern Church to excommunicate the envoy.

While the event did not end the relationship between the Eastern and Western Churches, it became symbolic for the distrust and strain between the East and the West that developed through the centuries. The break was sealed in with the sacking of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade.

Rome and Constantinople had been able to agree through three more Councils. The fifth ecumenical council at Constantinople II in was called by the Emperor Justinian and reaffirmed that there is only one person or hypostasis in our Lord Jesus Christ. In response to the Monothelites, that Christ had only one will, the sixth ecumenical council affirmed the efforts of St. Maximus the Confessor at Constantinople III in and confessed that Christ had two wills and two natural operations John , divine and human in harmony.

The seventh ecumenical council at Nicaea II in resolved the iconoclast controversy thanks to the writings of St. John of Damascus: since Jesus had a true humanity and his body was finite, it was only proper to venerate holy images of the human face of Jesus, as well as Mary and the saints.

However, the language of Rome was Latin, and that of Constantinople Greek. There was a difference in perception of Church authority between the East and West. Latin Rome believed the Pontiff, as the representative of Peter, was Pastor and Shepherd to the whole Church, whereas the Greek East saw the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and representative of Peter, as presiding with love in the sense of collegiality, as a first among equals.

This difference in perception of Church authority produced the conflict over the addition of the word filioque - and the Son - to the Nicene Creed by the Roman Catholic Church. Theological thought on the Trinity had progressed with time, particularly with St. Augustine, who saw the Holy Spirit as an expression of love between the Father and the Son. King Recared and his Visigothic bishops converted from Arianism to Catholicism at the Third Council of Toledo, Spain in and were required to add the word filioque to the Creed.

Charlemagne in insisted on its addition, so that the phrase read "the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son". The Eastern Orthodox Churches claim that the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is the common possession of the whole church and that any change must be made by an ecumenical Council. Catholic Spain was the first European territory to suffer Islamic invasion in when the Berber general Ibn Tariq conquered nearly all of Spain except the northern rim.

The discovery of the relics of St. As recorded in the late ninth-century Chronicle of Alfonso III, Pelayo became the inspiration for the rightful recovery of Spanish territory lost to Muslim invasion. Spain was troubled in when the Moor Almanzor usurped the power of the Caliphate and sacked the city and Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in the northwest tip of Spain, but spared the tomb of St. James Santiago in Spanish. With the loss of respect for the Caliphate, Al-Andalus fractured into multiple petty states, known as Taifas.

El Cid held off the Muslims in Valencia until his death in The Reconquista of Spain, or the unification of Spain under Christian rule, was not formally completed until the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, when Granada was captured from the Moors on January 2, Pope Urban II, in one of history's most powerful speeches, launched years of the Crusades at the Council of Clermont, France on November 27, with this impassioned plea.

In a rare public session in an open field, he urged the knights and noblemen to win back the Holy Land, to face their sins, and called upon those present to save their souls and become Soldiers of Christ. Those who took the vow for the pilgrimage were to wear the sign of the cross croix in French : and so evolved the word croisade or Crusade. By the time his speech ended, the captivated audience began shouting Deus le volt!

The expression became the battle-cry of the crusades. Three reasons are primarily given for the beginning of the Crusades: 1 to free Jerusalem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; 2 to defend the Christian East, hopefully healing the rift between Roman and Orthodox Christianity; and 3 to marshal the energy of the constantly warring feudal lords and knights into the one cause of penitential warfare.

What are your thoughts? There is no doubt, values such as peace, co-existence, solidarity and justice, which are of Christian origin, are today also considered as paradigms of political, cultural and moral commitment by citizens who are not themselves Christian.

These are the key values that constitute European identity: something Christians ought to be happy with, because within what is considered the European identity, as such, are these precisely Christian values. What needs to be done now is to explain everything well to European citizens.

Currently the idea of Europe frightens and makes people anxious. It appears burdensome, instead we need to show the value of unity to the peoples of Europe. What is also at stake here, the challenge for this Century, is to shape a global market. Globalisation without rules leads to marginalisation, poverty and misery, and environmental catastrophes. The great challenge Europe continues to face is to give rules and values to the world. Market rules which do not successfully safeguard human rights, freedom and democracy would be merely economic allowing the stronger to win, and this is not what we want.

This is how the euro was introduced — with a closer cooperation starting from ten, eleven countries and others joined in later. Because within EU mechanisms it is effectively difficult to achieve unanimity. There has been much discussion about the necessity to review the Treaties.

In what way do you believe they need to be modified? Who knows what the outcome would be for Europe if we reopened the debate on Schengen with the current nationalist governments afraid of the influx of immigrants? An event like the one tonight, where different Christian Churches unite in prayer shows that unity in diversity is possible.

Unfortunately, it appears as if Europe has lost its soul. There are, however, values such as dialogue and solidarity, which are also Christian and which can be shared by all people of good will. This is what we aim for, the rediscovery of values out of which Europe was born. Because let us not forget that while it is true that many Christians contributed to the growth of Europe, there were also many others who founded it.

By practicing walking. The same goes for dialogue. You need to make a start, to come out of yourself. You will make mistakes, because at times it is easy to, despite your best will, hurt the other and their feelings. Looking at Europe today, divided and lost, it seems that Chiara Lubich had a prophetic intuition, back in , when she began establishing an international ecumenical network of Christian Movements…. When Chiara lunched this idea, the European ideal was still popular, today it needs to be rediscovered. It is, beyond any declaration of principles, a practical way of giving Europe back its Christian soul, putting Christianity back as the foundation of Europe ….

Pope Francis emphasised dialogue as the one thing needed in order to build Europe with more unity and solidarity. And it is in dialogue that the Focolare Movement, since its very beginnings, has found a path to unity. What does it mean to lead a dialogue — and how can one learn how to dialogue? What is more dialogic than love?

On the other hand, there is no real dialogue without love. This is because dialogue requires a welcoming of the other and forgetting of self not negation of self, but a sort of stepping back in order to welcome another. That is a basic rule.

In the last years, there has been a proliferation of populist and so-called sovereignty movements. Perhaps Europe needs an examination of conscience to ask itself what went wrong and where to go next? Europe has developed to the benefit of the entire world, with values such as those summed up by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and signed by the world leaders, it has, however, also been affected by the temptation to settle on wellbeing of a material character, forgetting the depths of the human person.

In achieving the highest objectives of human civilisation, Europe also reached a level of wellbeing which made it forget deeper preconditions of civil co-existence. Today we are paying the price for this. We have, nevertheless, also been rediscovering forgotten values, and becoming aware that material well-being has its own value in the right place, together with other values which need to come first.

Your Eminence, this Vigil prayer which has brought together different Christian denominations shows that unity in diversity is possible. What sort of example can an evening such as this offer to a Europe still divided and torn on basic issues? This reconciliation between unity and diversity is very important for Europe, which is called to embody unity without negating diversity.

Can you yourself discern such signs? The challenge is for Europe to welcome them, to be open to them. Pope Francis stressed that peace is achieved through integration, dialogue and work, and that for Europe work is, on the political level, a priority. What is your view in this regard? This is a big challenge because it concerns the very dignity of the human person.

In your view, what contribution can Pope Francis offer to the building of a Europe in which there is more solidarity and more inspiration drawn from Christian values? Pope Francis is enthusiastic and understands very well that what the world as a whole needs its renewal. Some countries have suffered excessive pressure due to the refugee emergency situation.

Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Anglicans, clergy and lay gathered, taking up the invitation of Together for Europe, a joint initiative of over Christian Movements and Communities. Together for Europe was also represented at the Vigil by a choir composed of eight Movements and by a choir of the Romanian Orthodox Church. They launched an invitation to uphold the belief of the Founding Fathers in the European project and to strive for peace, justice and solidarity throughout the world Preamble to the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, declared by Heads of State on 29 th October In an interview, Fr.



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