May 5, 2022 | NEW MINDS

What is the Kerygma?


At the end of mass, one of the dismissals that we are given says “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord”. If someone asked you to articulate “what is the Gospel message” - what would you say?

As Catholics, we need to be ready to share with others not only how God has moved in our own lives (which we often call our testimony), but also the story of how God has moved in the world throughout all of human history - how His plan for the redemption of the world came about.

You might hear this called the Kerygma the core Gospel message.

What is Kerygma?

In the ancient Greek/Roman world, an important announcement would be made from the king through a herald, or a “Keryx”. The herald would travel throughout the empire, and this announcement would be proclaimed exactly as the king/ruler had mandated- this message would be called a “Kerygma”. The word Kerygma literally means “to proclaim”.

Pope John Paul II, talked about Kerygma this way:

(The kerygma is] “the initial ardent proclamation by which a person is one day overwhelmed and brought to the decision to entrust himself to Jesus Christ by faith. 

 - CATECHESI TRADENDAE 25

Think about that for a moment. While knowing our faith is important, before we spend a lot of time learning more about our faith, it’s important that we are first “overwhelmed” by the faith. 

Why is this important? 

 Because once we have been overwhelmed, once we have been evangelized, we can’t help but share that faith with others.

“The person who has been evangelized goes on to evangelize others. Here lies the test of truth, the touchstone of evangelization: it is unthinkable that a person should accept the Word and give himself to the kingdom without becoming a person who bears witness to it and proclaims it in his turn.” 

- EVANGELII NUNTIANDI 24

Have you had this experience of being overwhelmed in your faith life? Do any particular moments come to mind?

Another way we can define Kerygmas is the proclamation of the "Core Gospel Message".  This can be articlated a number of different ways, but it's important that it remains at the center of all of our ministries of the Church. All Catholics must have a deep understanding of this message and how to express it. We can even see a formulation the Kerygma in the first paragraph expressed of the Catholic Church:

“God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness, freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.

- CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, 1 

Want to learn more about how to proclaim the Kerygma?

How to proclaim the Gospel - Jeff Cavins

The History of the Kerygma and the Power of the Gospel - Every Knee Shall Bow 

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