A series of reflections for the parish on Pope Francis’ The Joy of the Gospel
Part 14: Reflection, Discernment, Action
“Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: “We have always done it this
way”. I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of
evangelization in their respective communities. A proposal of goals without an adequate communal search for the means of achieving them will inevitably prove illusory. I encourage everyone to apply the guidelines found in this document generously and courageously, without inhibitions or fear. The important thing is to not walk alone, but to rely on each other as brothers and sisters, and especially under the leadership of the bishops, in a wise and realistic pastoral discernment.” (paragraph 77)
You may recall that during Advent when I preached a series of homilies over three weeks at each of our weekend Masses, I cited Pope Francis’ response last October to a question put to him: What would you have us do with your document Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel? Here’s a more complete text of his response than I was able to quote in the homily, for all of us to consider:
“I believe that Evangelii Gaudium has to be deepened, it must be worked on by groups of the laity, of priests, in the seminaries, because it is the evangelizing breath that the Church wants to have today. In this we have to move forward. It is not something finished, as if we were to say, “that’s over, now comes Laudato si’. And then, “that’s over, too, now it is on to Amoris laetitia.” By no means! I recommend Evangelii Gaudium to you as a framework... Evangelii gaudium is the apostolic framework of the Church today.” (68 Oct 5⁰ , Dialogue of Pope Francis with the Jesuits gathered in the 36th General Congregation, Rome)
This response reinforces what the pope says in paragraph 33 above. He doesn’t intend for this document we have been reading and reflecting upon merely to be – well, read and reflected upon! He hopes that the guidelines he is giving for doing “pastoral ministry in a missionary key” will be applied, acted on.
Lord, please free us from fear and give us at St. Raphael the generosity and courage to continue in bold, creative, wise and realistic pastoral discernment…and action.
Lead us, Holy Spirit
Fr. Phil Hurley, S.J.