EG 263: Evangelization Today Not Harder But Different

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis is not too concerned with the modern environment for sharing and urging people to the faith. Saints of history, especially during the Roman Empire, might actually have had a tougher go of it:

263. We do well to keep in mind the early Christians and our many brothers and sisters throughout history who were filled with joy, unflagging courage and zeal in proclaiming the Gospel. Some people nowadays console themselves by saying that things are not as easy as they used to be, yet we know that the Roman empire was not conducive to the Gospel message, the struggle for justice, or the defence of human dignity. Every period of history is marked by the presence of human weakness, self-absorption, complacency and selfishness, to say nothing of the concupiscence which preys upon us all. These things are ever present under one guise or another; they are due to our human limits rather than particular situations.

Rather than blame the world, let’s be challenged by our own weakness. Then turn to God to work with us in spite of our failings. That rings more true than playing the victim card.

Let us not say, then, that things are harder today; they are simply different. But let us learn also from the saints who have gone before us, who confronted the difficulties of their own day. So I propose that we pause to rediscover some of the reasons which can help us to imitate them today.[Cf. V.M. Fernandez, “Espiritualidad para la esperanza activa. Discurso en la apertura del I Congreso Nacional de Doctrina Social de la Iglesia (Rosario 2011)”, in UCActualidad, 142 (2011), 16.]

And if we find ourselves at a loss, Pope Francis’ advice also strikes me as deeply useful: look to the witness of the saints.

Evangelii Gaudium is available online. Worth reading as a whole.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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