I would like to begin a series on the Apostolic Exhortation: Evangelii Gaudium. This is the first document published by Pope Francis. You have probably seen news reports about this. Contrary to what Rush Limbaugh claims, Pope Francis is not espousing Marxism. Pope Francis is espousing Gospel values and a Gospel way of life. He is not writing as an economist and certainly not as a politician. He is writing as a pastor who is the head of the Roman Catholic Church. He is not putting down wealthy people. The generosity of people of means has furthered the work of the Gospel in our own time. He is reflecting from a faith perspective upon the downside of economic systems.

It is my hope that this Pope’s Page can provide opportunity for each of us to understand what Pope Francis is saying and why he is saying it. There is no substitute for reading the document in its entirety and I encourage you to do so. You can access it at www.vatican.va and then click on Apostolic Exhortations. On this page I will try to bring the main points alive for your reflection. The document begins in a spirit of joy:

“1. The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.”

“2. The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.”

Here are a few gems in the introduction:

“God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy.”

“The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice.”

“Why should we not also enter into this great stream of joy? “

“There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter.”

Stay tuned! Fr. Jim McNamara