Recovering Who We Are

 

Nothing remains for Us, therefore, but to invite this poor world that has shed so much blood, has dug so many graves, has destroyed so many works, has deprived so many men of bread and labor, nothing else remains for us, We say, but to invite it in the loving words of the sacred Liturgy: “Be thou converted to the Lord thy God.” —POPE PIUS XI, Caritate Christi Compulsi, May 3rd, 1932; vatican.va

…we cannot forget that evangelization is first and foremost about preaching the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him. Many of them are quietly seeking God, led by a yearning to see his face, even in countries of ancient Christian tradition. All of them have a right to receive the Gospel. Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone… John Paul II asked us to recognize that “there must be no lessening of the impetus to preach the Gospel” to those who are far from Christ, “because this is the first task of the Church”. —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 15; vatican.va

 

“THERE must be no lessening of the impetus to preach the Gospel.” That’s the clear and consistent message spanning the last four pontificates. It might seem counterintuitive, even impossible in this climate of anti-Catholicism and political correctness. On the contrary, the deeper the world plunges into darkness, the brighter the stars will be. And you and I ought to be those stars.

The burning “now word” on my heart in Vermont last weekend was to speak about why the Church exists at all: to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ; to make known that, through Him, we have the forgiveness of our sins and that, through the Sacraments, we can find healing, sanctification, and grace to become the people we were created to be: perfect images of God. 

This is the raison d’etre of the Church. This is the reason why Jesus has assembled us under the mantle of a hierarchy who are the successors to the Apostles; this is the reason we have our lovely churches and stained-glass windows; it all points toward one reality: God exists and desires that all come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ and be saved. 

Satan wants to silence the Church. He wants Christians to be afraid, impotent, and lukewarm men and women who compromise their beliefs for the sake of “keeping the peace” and appearing more “tolerant” and “inclusive.” The Church does not exist to keep the peace, however, but to point the path toward authentic peace, even at the price of martyrdom:

 …it is not enough that the Christian people be present and be organized in a given nation, nor is it enough to carry out an apostolate by way of good example. They are organized for this purpose, they are present for this: to announce Christ to their non-Christian fellow-citizens by word and example, and to aid them toward the full reception of Christ. —Second Vatican Council, Ad Gentes, n. 15; vatican.va

O, how the Church has lost her way if this is not foremost on our minds! How we have lost our “first love” if making Jesus known to those around us does not even enter our thoughts! How deceived we are if we dance to the tune of the social engineers who wish to erase the diversities of the human race, most especially the differences between male and female, man and animal, and the Creator and His creatures. It is not enough to only be nice. It is not enough to be just a good example. Neither are we divinized social workers, but each of us, in our own capacity according to our personal gifts and vocation, are called to be ministers of the Gospel. For…

…how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? (Romans 10:14)

Thus, taught Pope St. Paul VI:

…the finest witness will prove ineffective in the long run if it is not explained, justified… and made explicit by a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the Lord Jesus. The Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life. There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed. —POPE ST. PAUL VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 22; vatican.va

The Church is not an NGO. She is not an arm of the United Nations nor some kind of sacred political party. Global warming, migration, and co-existence with Islam are not our battle cry, but “Jesus Christ and him crucified.” [1]1 Cor 2:2 The Church, says the Catechism…

…is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery.CCC, n. 763

As such, we are ambassadors for an eternal kingdom, for an existence that transcends time and which can begin, even now, within our hearts. This existence comes to us by means of grace flowing from the Tree of Life, which is the Cross; it flows directly from the Sacred Heart of Jesus, opened wide for all humanity so that we could be forgiven of our sins and become partakers of the divine nature. And this divine life comes to us by way of the Holy Spirit and the Sacraments, most especially the Bread of Life, the Eucharist. 

It is Jesus, Jesus alive, but we must not get used to it: it must be every time as if it were our First Communion. –POPE FRANCIS, Corpus Christi, June 23rd, 2019; Zenit

The Pope’s teaching here has less to do with reverence and more to do with disposition. Our hearts ought to be on fire for Christ, and if they are, then sharing the Gospel is not just a duty but a privilege born out of genuine love. 

…for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:20)

My last writing, Five Means to Be Not Afraid, is not meant to be a mere self-help exercise, but to stir you to greater confidence in the power of Christ and His Gospel. Today’s writing, then, is intended to impel you and me to make it known. Indeed, all creation is groaning awaiting the revelation of the sons and daughters of God…

We have to stop being afraid of pain and have faith. We have to love and not be afraid to change how we live, for fear it will cause us pain. Christ said, “Blessed are the poor for they shall inherit the earth.” So if you decide that it’s time to change how you live, don’t be afraid. He will be right there with you, helping you. That’s all He’s waiting for, that Christians should become Christians. —Servant of God Catherine Doherty, from Dear Parents

 

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1. 1 Cor 2:2
Posted in HOME, FAITH AND MORALS.