Pat, Florence and I had the pleasure of attending a lecture that Archbishop Chaput gave on October 1st at St Charles Borromeo Seminary. The lecture was entitled : Fire upon the earth: A Year of Faith, personal conversion and the new evangelization. We had hope to gain direction from our shepherd on the new evangelization and how to use it.
The lecture was centered around two scripture quotes. The Gospel of Matthew, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (4:4). And in the Gospel of Mark: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (1:15). In the verse from the Gospel of Matthew is it explained that we need more that food to nourish us. We also need God’s word to satisfy us spiritually. Additionally, the verse from the Gospel of Mark is explained by the Archbishop that Jesus comes out of the desert on fire with the presence of his Father. We are called to awaken from the darkness and stand witness to the Gospel. The Archbishop goes on to describe that he speaks with a sense of urgency. We must prepare for the kingdom for it is coming! Time is of the essence!
These Scripture quotes hold so true for what have gone through and what continues to occur in Frankford. Archbishop, how can we be feed spiritually?? You took away our place to hear the word of God and to be satisfied spiritually. In fact, you took it away from our entire neighborhood! Those who are poor, disadvantaged, hard working, and most important, faithful need it most of all! We hold the verse from Mark especially important to our cause. WE ARE ON FIRE WITH THE SPIRIT!! We are witnesses to this everyday. As we work, plan and learn to better evangelize in our neighborhood, we are examples of this call. St. Joachim Parish was and continues to be witness to the Gospel. We are preparing for the kingdom! We strive to live the Gospel and spread it to others in our neighborhood. We want people to know that others have abandoned them yet we, the remnant of St Joachim, has made it our mission to continue the good works of our parish.
Pope Benedict called for a “Year of Faith”. In Pope Benedict’s words, we now live in a world marked by “a profound crisis of faith”. Through the work of the parish we are trying to instill a strong presence of faith. It is wrong for one of the factors to rank the viability of a parish is on an envelop count. We have people who were embarrassed to put an envelope in the collection and just place a dollar or two in loose. Also we had transient people that would come and did not use envelops. Big envelope counts do not equal strong faith! The entire neighborhood is without a Roman Catholic Church it rattles us and our faith at the core! We do have a profound crisis of faith in our neighborhood and our world. When you choose to snuff us out than we become more on fire with the Spirit and strive even harder to Keep the Faith in Frankford. This is what God has called us to do as Christians.
Pope Francis in his first few months as Pope issued an encyclical entitled “Light of Faith” in June just as our church was closing. One of the quotes from the encyclical states ” [Love] requires truth. Only to the extent that love is grounded in truth can it endure over time … [And if] love needs truth, truth also needs love. Love and truth are inseparable” (27). We love our faith, our neighborhood, and our church. We want the truth! We excel to know the Lord’s love deeper and to spread within our community.
The Archbishop speaks of the new evangelization as not methods, techniques, or technologies. The Archbishop says “But the main instrument of the new evangelization is the same as the old evangelization. It’s you and me. There’s no way around those words: “Repent and believe in the gospel.” The world will change only when you change, when we change, because hearts are won by personal witness. And we can’t share what we don’t have.” That’s right, we can’t share what we don’t have! Pope Francis has called us to look at things in a different way. We, as Catholics, have not done a great job of really spreading the message to others – We just keep it among ourselves. We must spread the message to everyone! And to do that we must convert ourselves first and learn evangelization techniques. I had the privilege to attend an all day workshop on Door to Door Evangelization sponsored by the New Evangelization Office of the Archdiocese. The Spirit was truly on fire in that room. Can you imagine if we made others in our community and the world feel that?
The Archbishop shared a poem by Charles Peguy “God’s Dream,” where God says:[From] those who share my dreams
I ask a little patience,
a little humor,
some small courage,
and a listening heart –
I will do the rest.
Then they will risk,
and wonder at their daring;
run — and marvel at their speed;
build — and stand in awe of the beauty of their building …
So come now –
It is my dream you dream,
my house you build,
my caring you witness,
my love you share.
And this is the heart of the matter.
It is all in the heart and we all have that in Keep the Faith in Frankford! Archbishop, we pray that you hear the words of the Gospels of Mark and Matthew and see truly what you have done to our neighborhood. You have abandoned us! We are faithful people who have the fire! It burns deep in our hearts. That you can never take that away!
Read the entire text of the lecture here:
Learn about Door to Door Evangelization:
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