“The biggest challenge, not just in Philadelphia but everywhere, is to preach the Gospel. . . . We need to have confidence in the Gospel, we have to live it faithfully, and to live it without compromise and with great joy.”
Just last week I was asked the question, 'what kind of Catholic are you'? How do you answer that question... Lapsed, cradle, practising, 'good', Maronite, pious, charismatic, 'bad', convert, Sunday morning, traditionalist, Roman, liberal, struggling, zealous, orthodox to name but a few!. In some way or another I think I could put myself into most of them. It's easy therefore to think that there is no value in this question but the kind of Catholic that we are determines the kind of Church that we have. If we box and insulate ourselves into the same 'liberal' and 'traditional' clubs which have existed since the Vatican II then we will be creating, by the Holy Fathers admission, an institutional Church intent on only a self seeking insular mission. What then is the antidote to this trap which has caused a stagnation in the Spiritual life of the western Church? What kind of Catholic must we be then, in order to have a Church intent on only one thing; the Gospel?
|Liberal? Traditional? Not really...so what? |
Radical, Happy, and Evangelical!!
Without vision no organisation gets anywhere, and the Church is no different. The problem at the moment is that we have no vision, and have lost confidence in the core message of the Gospel and in the transforming potential it contains. Many believers are in fact positively embarrassed by the Gospel, trying instead to turn the message of the church into other important, but non-salvific, issues such a social justice and and cultural expressions of the Catholic Faith.
So what is this Evangelical Catholicism if not going back, not staying the same and not something novel? The answer is simple; it's an ever necessary charism of the Church which we must once again rediscover, emphasise and live in a way which is relevant to to the church in contemporary society. It is a vision of the Church grounded in living and proclaiming the Gospel in both a radical and relevant way which has been seen clearly in many of the great Saints of the church from St Paul, St Dominic, St Francis, and Blessed Pope John Paul II. In Modern Society of course this in part means a zealous sense of urgency for Social Justice, and for regaining our Catholic identity, but it also requires orthodoxy combined with a deep and through renewal of our own lives and the Church.
The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, like both his predecessors has identified that we live in a time in which 'a New Evangelisation is needed'. Nothing but a new and radical living AND proclamation of the WHOLE Gospel Without compromise, and the joy which it brings, will suffice.
This is Part One, and just an light introduction to the topic. In Part Two we will look at the different ways in which Evangelical Catholicism has been lived in the past in the lives of the saints mentioned previously. In Part Three we will look at the current situation, both in a society hostile to religion and a Church which has largely fell into a state of stagnation and institutionalisation, and the need for an Evangelical Catholicism to respond to this situation with fresh, faithful, and radical ways of living the Gospel.