Beautiful Good News & the New Evangelization

On the Feast Day of Anthony Patrizi & The Holy Brothers of Leccetto, this reflection was offered to Augustinian Student Community on Tuesday, October 9, 2012. The readings for the day are Galatians 1:13-24 and Luke 10:38-42.

I was afflicted with Holy Jealousy years back when I learned about the Rite of Christian Initiation & The Catechumenate. It was a romantic feeling. Something so compelling that people would radically sever themselves from their lives of revelry. There was something so compelling that they took the next three years in retreat, prayer, & study of the faith they would receive. Most of all, they vividly engaged the Paschal Mystery of Christ through the Rituals.

Paul himself, refers to his severance from his own zealous religious tradition. Paul, like the early Catechumens, radically severed himself, was turned on his head, and became a follower of the Way. Paul even refers to three years of preparation. Paul & The early Christians, were recipients of Good News: The invisible God, from the fullness of love, in the Revelation of the Christ, addressed us as friends, moving among us, in order to invite and receive us in friendship.

God drew close to us, and the only adequate response was to cast aside one’s nets, to lay down the swords of war, to put away the masks of the stage, to sign off the social network, to unplug from the matrix of expectations. God’s very nearness in the Incarnation, itself liberative from irrelevant labors. The nearness of the incomprehensible Divine was touched, and heard, and seen.

Paul’s zealous religiosity was silenced by the beauty of this good News. Mary couldn’t busy herself according to custom, but to silence, and listening, before the beauty of Good News. Anthony Patrizi, and the Holy Friars of Lecceto likewise, dedicated the span of their lives to silence and listening to the beautiful Good News of Christ. They provide models for us.

Likewise, the Synod of Bishops gather to listen to the Good News. Under the theme of the New Evangelization. I can call myself a product of the New Evangelization. So I see value in it, and my hope is that we can come to see the beauty of the Good News. I pray that the Bishops, and all those gathered in the Synod, can humbly pray for the guidance of Christ.

This is so necessary today. Often, our public declaration of faith has been reduced to reiterating tenants of the Church, while most Catholics opt out to go Pentecostal or agnostic. If we, as a Church, were graded on recruitment, we would get a fat F fail. Many of us were not conscientiously recruited. Most Catholics in the West, particularly leaders in the Church, don’t understand what it is to be Evangelized to. Many of us have forgotten the core of the good news, that beautiful good news, the beauty that the invisible God, in the revelation of Christ, dwells among us calling us to friendship, calling us before we were born, setting us apart, gracing us with new life in the Paschal Mystery.

The catechumens themselves, called, and yearning for the faith we have already received, ought to serve as an inspiration for us. Perhaps we can yearn for their yearning. Perhaps this is how we can mark the year of faith by entering a sort of catechumenate appropriate for ourselves, the sort that will help us deepen our faith, the sort that will help us rediscover the good news, the sort that will silence us to its beauty, the sort that will empower us to rediscover how close God is to us.

And it is here, it is now that we discover God drawing near to us in our commemoration of the Paschal Mystery. It leaves us yearning to be before the Lord to listen to the beautiful good news, as Mary, as Paul, as Anthony Patrizi & the Holy Brothers of Leccetto. This is where the New Evangelization becomes good news anew. Christ, comes to us, and gathers us together in the one body and blood. We share in his Paschal Mystery, this is beautiful good news.

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