A priest friend of mine recently counseled me, saying that, to be a Catholic young man in the world, I should listen more, pray more, and let my actions speak on my behalf. While that’s still a work-in-progress, over the past year, I’ve certainly learned enough to know I don’t know that much. I’ve come to know I have so much more to learn, which is why it probably seems this has become a place of me sharing the mind of others, rather than the ramblings of a boy so foolish as to be wise in his own estimations. That’s not to say I won’t chime in here and there, but I am indeed working on listening more — to leaders in both thought and example, from the Most Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the marvelous Maya Angelou to the Argentinian man close to my heart, Papa Francisco. So today I brought myself to finally enter into Evangelii Gaudium (or, “The Joy of the Gospel”) — which is something we call an “apostolic exhortation” in the Church — and which has been sitting on my bookshelf for far too long.
Though I’m sure so many more worthy passages will follow, I was struck by the simplicity and yet profound perceptivity contained within the work’s opening pages, so I thought I’d share it here with anyone who might happen to stumble upon it.
In times like these, I find it ever more important to listen to the voice and life of leaders such as these — even if it requires us coming outside of ourselves and straining to hear over the din of a dysfunctional world as heralded by angry partisans. Dare to be bold. Dare to hold onto the promise of Christ, that we may be anchored through all tribulations — that our souls might rest on God’s Truth, which endures to the end.
I hope this finds you in both health and peace, friends. Cheers!
The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.
I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.” The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.
Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders.
No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!
(Evangelii Gaudium, pp. 1-2)