Thursday, 23 January 2014

EG, Chapter 3.

How does one go about renewing the Church on the foundation of mission? How does one go about renewing the Church in a self-referencial age, an age whose vision is filled with what I like, what I think, what I want? The Holy Father is doing it by gently setting the tone himself.
In Chapter 3 of his Letter he looks at the ways in which the Church evangelises, reminding and suggesting these timeless ways in which we set out to communicate Christ.
In the first part of the chapter he speaks about four ways of evangelisation: through popular devotions, by person to person, through the charisms, and by bringing faith and culture together. There is no doubt that groups and communities will benefit by a reflective reading of what the Pope says here.
He then goes on to speak about preaching in the Liturgy. Following on from Benedict XVI, Francis' teaching on this subject is most welcome. Indeed, a renewed understanding of preaching and the formation of the preacher is taking place in the Church. I am happy to say that this was also the case in the Seminary of the Good Shepherd during my time on the staff. The Holy Father's emphasis in this section is that the preacher should be more concerned to warm hearts than to tickle the imagination.
In the next section the Holy Father speaks about the importance of the kerygma - initial proclamation - and a full catechesis, together with a concern for the 'way of beauty' - opening the person to the beauty of following Christ. Finally he speaks about the art of accompaniment - the way in which we accompany people into the mystery of Christ. Evangelisation is not about buying someone a train ticket and telling them when to get off, but is about going with someone on a journey.
And, as the Holy Father says at the beginning of this chapter, this is the task which belongs to every baptised person.


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