Is the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (November 24,2013) really a surprise? We are eventually getting used to the Holy Father Francis simple and direct style.
This time, the text is rather long: 5 chapters developed in 288 paragraphs, and also 217 notes and bibliographical entries. Then, how to approach the issue? It could be approached in small quantities and by choosing selected sections.
Let us give an overview in three points and three ideas.
The ”joy of the gospel ”and of a ” Church which goes forth ”
Well! That’s great! This text – most from 1 to 18 – breathes the joy of the gospel and its proclamation. The word joy, not to mention its synonyms and the expressions describing the same reality, occurs 95 times in the text. This joy, each time is renewed and shared. Thus it is not a question of an exuberant behaviour, but rather a real ecclesial” renewal” (19-49) bound to meet the renewal of structures. Before this pope was elected, ” I used to sign my writings: a perplex catholic, but today I’m quite sure he will jolt us out of the roman tradition”! This ecclesial renewal can no longer be deferred (27-33).
Conditions and ways to this communal renewal are developed from chapters 2 to 5 (50-283). These chapters represent the most valuable contribution of this document and are clearly explained.
Including the poor “in society”
In union with Christ, as instruments of God heeding the cry of the poor (187), we are also invited to hear the cry of entire peoples, since ”peace is founded not only on respect for human rights,but also on respect for the rights of peoples” (190). Therefore, a great sentence is addressed to the more affluent peoples: human rights can be used as a justification for an ”inordinate defence of individual rights or the rights of the richer” to the detriment of the landless, homeless, lacking food and health care” (191).
The word of an intelligent man
A stream of practical advices written down quick enough by a pope, a closeness pastor! One of the best illustrations for a good spiritual gesture and a word which sets hearts on fire is on the homiletic resources ( 135-151): a really method of preparing homilies each priest should be devoted to, followed by an evangelizing related practice known as lectio divina and which concerns each faithful.
How about a selection of innovating and happy expressions from the Holy Father Francis. ”God’s style ”,‘‘the spiritual savour of being a people ”, Mary ‘‘the Star of the new Evangelization‘‘, etc.
Sr. Henriette Danet, D.J.