Monday, August 22, 2011

The Ultimate Relationship

The Ultimate Relationship is a tool you can use to share the Gospel clearly and simply. The presenter walks a person, or “listener,” through a step-by-step presentation. The listener is able to understand what the Gospel message is and thus take the opportunity to commit or re-commit his or her life to Jesus Christ.

The booklet has four main messages:

1. God created us for a relationship with Him

2. Our relationship is broken through sin

3. Jesus restores our relationship with the Father

4. We have the choice to accept or reject this offer

Why use the Ultimate Relationship?

Too often we assume that certain people have already given their life to Christ or that they have actually heard the Gospel before. We must never make this assumption. Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household, says this,

“I can see from my own experience that even if I speak of many beautiful concepts, nothing seems to happen. We must proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior, helping people to grasp what it means to have Jesus as their Savior — not in a theoretical way, but that every day they have a Savior, someone who will lift them from their fatigue of the day, of their sin, and their mistakes, and who renews them. He saves us. When you proclaim this living, crucified and risen Jesus, something always happens.”

Many of us desire to share the Gospel with others, but we return to a common excuse: I just don’t know how. The Ultimate Relationship takes this excuse out of the equation. The booklet gives you an opening to share the Gospel. It helps you to know what to say. It is easy to present. It helps you to stay on topic. It enables you to be brief, prepared, and confident. And finally, it can be given away to the listener at the end. If we fail to share the Gospel with others, we can’t use the excuse that we don’t know how to share it.

Who can I use the Ultimate Relationship with?



Friends and family members

Bible study members



To continue reading this article and to learn more about how to use the Ultimate Relationship, click here and then click on the article entitled, The Ultimate Relationship.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What is the New Evangelization? The answer might surprise you

The term “The New Evangelization” is thrown around in many Catholics circles today, but what exactly does it mean?

It is believed that Blessed John Paul II first used the term in 1983 in an address to Latin American Bishops. He would later bring this term to the attention of the entire Church. Perhaps, the most clear definition of the New Evangelization is in his encyclical, Redemptoris Missio. In section 33 of this encyclical, Blessed John Paul II describes three different situations for evangelization: mission ad gentes, Christian communities, and the new evangelization.

Mission ad gentes: Latin for “to the nations.” This is a situation where “Christ and his Gospel are not known.”

Christian communities: “In these communities the Church carries out her activity and pastoral care.” This is the ongoing evangelization of those “fervent in the faith.”

New Evangelization: So, what is the new evangelization? Blessed John Paul II describes a situation between the first two options “where entire groups of the baptized have lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church, and live a life far removed from Christ and his Gospel. In this case what is needed is a ‘new evangelization’ or a ‘re-evangelization.’”

The new evangelization pertains to a very specific group of people: fallen-away Christians. For most Catholics in the western world, we see the need for this type of evangelization all around us. Everyone knows someone who was once baptized but who no longer practices the faith. Blessed John Paul II wanted the faithful to clearly recognize this problem and then try to solve it.

FOCUS (The Fellowship of Catholic University Students) aims to answer the John Paul II’s call for the new evangelization. On college campuses across the nation, college students are falling away from their faith. Statistics show that just 15% of Catholics aged 18-25 attend Church on a weekly basis. FOCUS lives out the new evangelization on the college campus because of this critical age demographic.

Pope Benedict has continued the mission of the new evangelization in his pontificate. In 2010, Pope Benedict established The Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. In 2012, he declared a Bishops’ Synod to discuss the New Evangelization. We should be hearing much more about this topic in the years to come. Below are some key quotes on the New Evangelization by Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict. For more, check out the full documents of the resources quoted below.

"I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization and to the mission. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples" (Bl. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, no. 3).

"To this end, it is more necessary than ever for all the faithful to move from a faith of habit, sustained perhaps by social context alone, to a faith which is conscious and personally lived. The renewal of faith will always be the best way to lead others to the Truth that is Christ" (Bl. John Paul II, Ecclesia in America, no. 73).

"Look to the future with commitment to a New Evangelization, one that is new in its ardor, new in its methods, and new in its expression" (Bl. John Paul II, Address to the Latin American Bishops).

"The new evangelization in which the whole continent is engaged means that faith cannot be taken for granted, but must be explicitly proposed in all its breadth and richness" (Bl. John Paul II, Ecclesia in America, no. 69).

"Our own time, then, must be increasingly marked by new hearing of God’s word and a new evangelization. Recovering the centrality of the divine word in the Christian life leads us to appreciate anew the deepest meaning of the forceful appeal of Pope John Paul II: to pursue the mission ad gentes and vigorously to embark upon the new evangelization, especially in those nations where the Gospel has been forgotten or meets with indifference as a result of widespread secularism" (Pope Benedict XVI, Dei Verbum, no. 122).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why Dead People Matter Part 3 - Lord, Liar, Lunatic, and Legend

This is the last article in our series on the reported finding of the Apostle Philip's tomb.

In the next few weeks, FOCUS missionaries and student leaders will be asking students into Bible studies on campus. A typical response by some students will be that Jesus was a great philosophical teacher or a good man, but not God.

What is our response to this?

For the past seventy years or so, one of the key Christian arguments for the divinity of Jesus Christ has been what has been labeled as the Trilemma by C.S. Lewis (pictured left). Trilemma is a similar to a dilemma, but with three options instead of two. Based on the words of Jesus, Lewis believes that Jesus can only be three things: Lord, a Liar, or a Lunatic.

The argument usually goes something like this:

"Jesus claims to be much more than merely a good man. And if he is not who he claims to be, then he cannot be a good man...Jesus claims to be God, so either he is God or he is not. If he's not God, then we are left with two options: he either knows that he is not God and is a liar, or he mistakenly thinks he is God and is a lunatic. The one thing he most certainly is not is merely a good man" (Curtis Martin, Made for More, p. 22).

In the last few years, a new argument against Jesus' divinity has come about in response to the Trilemma. A fourth L has been added to the argument--Legend. The claim is that Jesus was a good man who did good things, but after He died, His followers made Him into something He never claimed to be--God.

Was Jesus a Legend?

Some of the weight of this argument fall on the followers of Jesus just after His death. What was in it for them to claim that Jesus rose from the dead if He didn't? The biggest evidence against the disciples making Jesus into a legend is their own martyrdoms. Why would they die for a lie? It is believed that 10 of the 11 original Apostles (subtracting Judas out of the equation) were martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ (all but the Apostle John). Some will dispute this claim because there are conflicting reports about the Apostles' deaths.

This is where the finding of St. Philip's tomb is so important. It is another concrete and physical reminder that St. Philip was willing to die for what he believed--that Jesus was the Son of God who rose from the dead. (We also believe that we have the tombs of other Apostles as well, for instance, Sts. Peter and Paul in Rome).

Articulating this argument will probably not convert someone on the spot. But, the hope is that it will remove a barrier in their mind and allow them to encounter the person of Jesus with a more open heart--something that can bring about conversion.

Much more could go into this argument to help remove some of these barriers. There are other historical records that point to the existence of Jesus and even to his miracles. Also, the New Testament manuscripts that hold Jesus' words about His divinity are more reliable than any other ancient text. But, this is just one blog post, so I will stop here. For more, check out Made for More by Curtis Martin.

Any questions on the Lord, Liar, Lunatic, Legend argument?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

And the winners are...

Here are the winners FOCUSequip Book Giveaway Contest.

They all receive a copy of Dr. Sri's book, A Biblical Walk Through the Mass.

All the winners will be notified regarding their mailing address so we can send you a book.

If you didn't win, maybe next time...

Keep up to date with FOCUSequip and more contests:

1. "Like" the FOCUSequip Facebook Page

2. "Follow" @FOCUSequip on Twitter

3. Subscribe to the FOCUSequip Blog

4. Subscribe to the FOCUSequip YouTube channel

Facebook winners
George Tysdal
Bryce Garber
Sarah Burke
Amy Vonderharr
Allison Savrda
Drew Snyder
Emily Clark
Joe Hopkins
Jim Schuster
Stephanie Trouba
Laura O'Grady
Benjamin Pio
Stephen Ernst
Steven Drapalik
Kathleen Gesterling

Twitter winners

Blog winners
Barbara Berg
Shannon Leary
Lindsey Carroll
Adam Diemert
Jessica Kratz

Thanks everyone for participating and spreading the word about!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why Dead People Matter Part 2 - Why do we have relics again?

This continues our series on the recent report that archaeologists found the Apostle Philip's tomb.

If St. Philip's tomb is verified, pilgrims from all over the world will come to see and be near an Apostle of Jesus Christ.

But, why is this a tradition in the Catholic Church? Why do we love relics and dead bodies so much?

In the United States, we do not have too many relics exposed for viewing. But, if you have been to Europe, you can't help but see relics all over the place. For instance:
  • St. Francis Xavier's hand is in encased on the wall of the Gesu Church in Rome.
  • St. Catherine of Siena's head is encased for viewing in a Church in Siena while her body resides in a Church in Rome.
  • St. Vincent de Paul's incorruptable body is on display in Paris (picture on right).
So, why again do we do this? Why do we care so much about dead people? Why do we need to touch them? Isn't this all just a little freaky.

Well, let's let Sr. Mary Gabriel from the Sisters of Life explain from this one and a half minute audio clip from our last FOCUS Conference.

Material things can become holy. Jesus turned natural materials like bread and wine into something supernatural--His own body and blood. He used earthly things like mud to heal the blind. And, He is taking earthly things like ourselves and slowly making them into Himself. Our goal is to be like Him not in a vague sense, but in a tangible one. The saints are a visual witness to this. For St. Philip who lived with Jesus, this reality is even more...well, real.

For an article on the different types of relics and where you can find them go here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Welcome to FOCUSequip Website and the Website Launch Contest

Today, FOCUS (The Fellowship of Catholic University Students) is officially launching a new website initiative,

To celebrate, we are giving away 30 copies of Dr. Edward Sri's book: A Biblical Walk Through the Mass. In this book, Dr. Edward Sri takes us on a unique tour of the liturgy just in time for the revised translation that goes into effect this November.

Read more about the website below and find out how you can win.

FOCUSequip is the curriculum division of FOCUS. FOCUSequip is based on Ephesians 4:12: "For the equipment of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ."

FOCUSequip has three main aims:

1. Provide formation through dynamic multimedia.

Some examples:
- Video: Fr. Mike Schmitz - They're Playing My Song
- Audio: Lila Rose - Building the Culture of Life
- Article: Curtis Martin - Christ the Teacher: A Voice for All to Hear

2. Equip you with tools for evangelization, bible studies, and discipleship.

Some examples:
- Free downloadable Bible studies like this one on 1 Corinthians
- How-to articles like this one on evangelization

3. Keep you up-to-date with the work of FOCUS and the New Evangelization through this blog.

How can you keep up with what's going on at the new website?

1. "Like" the FOCUSequip Facebook Page

2. "Follow" @FOCUSequip on Twitter

3. Subscribe to the FOCUSequip Blog

4. Subscribe to the FOCUSequip YouTube channel

About the contests

We are giving away 30 copies of Dr. Edward Sri's book: A Biblical Walk Through the Mass.

15 copies will be given out via Facebook.
10 copies will be given out via Twitter.
5 copies will be given out via the FOCUSequip blog.

Feel free to enter all three contests. Details are below.

Facebook Contest

"Like" our
Facebook Page and fill out and submit your name and email address in the "contest" tab.

15 winners will be randomly selected and notified via email.

Twitter Contest

1. "
Follow" @FOCUSequip on Twitter.

2. Tweet: Check out FOCUS' new web site

10 winners will be randomly selected and notified via email.

FOCUSequip Blog Contest

1. Subscribe to the FOCUSequip Blog

2. Email your name and email address to FOCUSequip AT focusonline DOT org with the subject line: FOCUSequip Blog Contest.

5 winners will be randomly selected and notified via email.

Please note:
Books can only be sent to addresses in the United States and Canada. The contest will end on Friday, August 12th at noon MST. 30 winners will be chosen based on random selection.Winners will be notified via email.
Limit one book per person. If you don't hear from us, you can assume you didn't make the cut. These contests are not associated with and in no way sponsored by Twitter, Facebook, or Blogger.

Spread the Word
We would appreciate it if you spread the word about

Consider posting a link to the website: and/or a link to this contest: on Facebook and Twitter.

Spreading the word about FOCUSequip on Facebook in no way effects your entrance or qualification for the contest.

Welcome again to the FOCUSequip blog and the new website. Look around, there is plenty to explore and much more to come!

With Hope in the Divine Will,

Kevin Cotter
Director of FOCUSequip

Curtis Martin on FOCUSequip

FOCUSequip Website: By the Numbers

One of the aims of the FOCUSequip website is to release a host of dynamic resources.

Here are some stats on how many of these resources are currently available:

135+ - Pages of content
30 - Articles from some of the best Catholic authors in the country
28 - Video clips from FOCUS Conferences
27 - Full length audio talks
12 - New articles on practical evangelization, bible studies, and discipleship
3 - New downloadable free FOCUS Bible Studies

The best part is that there's still lots more to come. We look forward to releasing more from the FOCUS archives and creating new content in the future.

Why Dead People Matter Part 1 - What It Means to Follow Jesus

Last week archeologists announced the discovery of what is believed to be the tomb of St. Philip the Apostle. The discovery of an Apostle's tomb is amazing!

The Apostles' tombs

Throughout the history of the Church, the veneration of saints' tomb, e
specially the Apostles has been done with great devotion. For instance, in the middle ages, Christians flocked to the tomb of St. James in Spain. People would travel from all over Europe and spend a considerable amount of time and money just to come to see his tomb. This is still done today. FOCUS Missions leads a trip on the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) each year. The tombs of Sts. Peter and Paul are also very popular pilgrimage sites today.

Does it matter?
But, in the wake of the discover of St. Philip's tomb, there has not been too much news or excitement about the discovery. If you search "St. Philip's tomb" in Google News, just 49 articles appear. As a comparison, a story about an asteroid in Earth's gravitational pull garnered over 400 news stories.

I think it's important to ask: Is the discovery of St. Philip's tomb significant? In other words, does finding a dead person's tomb still matter?

In this first part, I want to look at the story of St. Philip and its ability to bring to mind the historical reality of Jesus. St. Philip is a man who followed and lived with Jesus. A man who witnessed Jesus' miracles, death, and resurrection. A man who lived out Jesus' commission to make disciples of all nations. And, a man who would be martyred for his witness to Jesus Christ.

St. Philip's story
St. Philip was one of Jesus 12 Apostles. He was from Bethsaida, a small and insignificant town in the backwaters of Galilee (also, the home of Sts. Andrew and Peter). The account of when Philip first started following Jesus is found in the Gospel of John (John 1:43-51).

St. Philip is mentioned a few times in the Gospels but mostly in passing. We do have a significant amount of information about St. Philip outside of the New Testament although not all of it can be trusted historically. It is believed that St. Philip preached in Greece, Syria, and Turkey. Most sources claim that St. Philip was eventually martyred in Turkey in the city of Hierapolis (where his tomb was recently found).

While we are not exactly sure about all the details of his life, his witness and martyrdom still echos as a testament to his dedicated following of Jesus. In the video below (especially the first three minutes) Rob Bell*, a Protestant pastor, does a great job of capturing some of alleged details of St. Philip's life. He describes what it meant for St. Philip to follow after Jesus 2,000 years ago and what it might mean for us today as we follow Jesus.

What do you think about the discovery of St. Philip's tomb? Why do you think that there has not been much news or excitement about this discovery?

Rob Bell on St. Philip

* I personally find Rob Bell to have a incredible ability to bring the past come alive. At the same time, neither I nor FOCUS endorse or support all of Bell's teachings.