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ACI Prensa's latest initiative is the Catholic News Agency (CNA), aimed at serving the English-speaking Catholic audience. ACI Prensa (www.aciprensa.com) is currently the largest provider of Catholic news in Spanish and Portuguese.
Updated: 2 hours 57 min ago

Cardinal DiNardo: To be active, we have to learn to be contemplative

Tue, 07/04/2017 - 16:44

Orlando, Fla., Jul 4, 2017 / 02:44 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Contemplation is the most active thing we can do if we want to work for the Lord, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said in his homily on July 4.
 
Which might seem counter-intuitive, considering that he was addressing hundreds of bishops and thousands of Catholic leaders gathered in Orlando, Florida for the final Mass of the Catholic Convocation.
 
But contemplation is action, the Cardinal of Galveston-Houston said, and the Gospel of John shows us this.
 
In John 17, Jesus prays aloud for the apostles and for the Church to his Father during the Last Supper. He prays for their unity and for those they will evangelize, those they will meet once they are sent on mission.
 
The 12 apostles, gathered at the table, are “mute”, observing and listening to Jesus, Cardinal DiNardo noted.
 
“On this (4th of July) day of barbeques and fireworks, bands and parties, the Gospel text is striking...the most single contemplative chapter in the New Testament is read for us and proclaimed to us as we're going forth,” he said.
 
“Today, Jesus lets us overhear his intimacy with the Father,” Cardinal DiNardo said, the Father on whom he leans during his mission and during his passion and death.
 
He also pointed out another passage in the Gospel of John, during the multiplication of loaves, during which Jesus teaches his apostles another lesson about mission.
 
During the passage, found in Chapter 6, the apostles see the great crowds gathered around Jesus and despair at how they are going to feed them.
 
“Jesus says - you give them something to eat. What do the apostles do?” Cardinal DiNardo asked.
 
“It's apostolic, it's gone on ever since. What do they do? They whine,” he said, laughing.
 
"We don't have enough, we don't have bread," the apostles say.  
 
“Jesus responds - not wagging a finger of disapproval of their less than excellent conduct, but he just looks at them and says, just give me what you have.”
 
“Jesus gives so much power to his friends, it's amazing how he lets us work,” he said.  
 
From their meager offerings, Jesus is able to feed the multitudes. In the same way, we are called to offer what we can to the Lord, and expect that he will multiply our efforts, he added.  
 
“Imagine the gallons we'll have leftover if we do it at the Lord's word,” Cardinal DiNardo said.

And learn to distinguish the different between true action "and just running around," he added. 

“We are in a very significant time in our church in this country - and this reminds me of how contemplative we're going to be if we want to be active. Never are you more active than when the word of God is overpowering you. You are seated there, in God's loving grace, and you realize how much God can let you do.”

 

Bishop Barron: 6 tips for evangelizing the 'nones'

Tue, 07/04/2017 - 13:54

Orlando, Fla., Jul 4, 2017 / 11:54 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The way we evangelize should grab the world by the shoulders and shake it out of its apathy, Bishop Robert Baron told a crowd of Catholic leaders Tuesday.

Evangelization is especially urgent as the 'nones' - the number of the population who do not identify with a religion, continues to grow, he said.

Bishop Baron, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and well-known evangelizer for Word on Fire, addressed the crowd of Catholic bishops and leaders gathered at the Catholic Convocation in Orlando, Florida through a live video feed on July 4, the last day of the gathering.
 
“We do have a fight on our hands, but the great saints of our church have always loved a good fight, and we should too.”  
 
In a talk entitled “Equipping Evangelizers”, the bishop with more than 15 years of evangelizing experience said that there are three main challenges and three main opportunities that Catholic evangelists face today.
 
1. The first challenge: Scientism
 
The culture’s embrace of “scientism”, or the philosophical belief that the only valuable knowledge is scientific knowledge, is one of the great challenges that evangelists face today, Bishop Barron said.
 
“Let me be clear: the Catholic Church has nothing against the sciences, the church stands with the sciences at their best,” he said. “What the Church opposes is scientism, or the reduction of all knowledge to the scientific form of knowledge.”
 
Actually, scientism as a philosophy is self-refuting, he noted.
 
“Scientism is not discoverable through the scientific method. Where did you empirically verify and test through experimentation that only scientific knowledge is valuable? Scientism is a philosophical position and therefore self-refuting,” he said.
 
But it can be challenge for evangelizers, who are speaking to the world about God.
 
“When we (as a culture) isolate ourselves from all references to the transcendent, we do damage to the human heart, we do damage to the human spirit,” he said.
 
2. The second challenge: The culture of “meh”
 
There’s a rampant apathy in today’s society, especially among young people, who have been formed not to embrace anything as objectively true, Bishop Barron said.
 
“If there is no objective truth, no objective value, what that produces is a culture of ‘meh’, or as the kids say, ‘whatever’” Bishop Barron said.
 
But objective truths and values form a firm foundation that sends us on mission, he said, pointing to an example used by St. John Henry Newman, who said a river gets its energy and verve from its firm foundation.
 
“Knock down the banks, and what’s going to happen? That river is going to open up into a big, lazy lake. Placid, with no energy, no purpose,” Bishop Barron said.
 
“Our society today is like a big lazy lake, all of us floating individually, tolerating each other, not getting in each other’s way, but without energy, without purpose.”
 
But evangelization, the declaration of the good news of Jesus, is the antithesis of this apathy, he said.
 
“Once you’ve been grasped by the power of God...you know where to go and you do it with energy.”  
 
3. The third challenge: The culture of self-determination
 
What was once a fringe philosophical idea known as voluntarism, which stemmed from philosophers like Nietzsche and other recent existentialists, is now mainstream thought among the millennial generation in the United States, Bishop Barron said.
 
The core belief of this philosophy, embraced widely by young people, is that freedom defines identity, he noted.
 
“My freedom comes first, and then I determine essence, who I am, the meaning of my life. It’s all based on my freedom - my sexualtiy, my gender, purpose of my life is all up to me,” he explained.
 
But to evangelize is to say that “your life is not about you, your life is not up to you,” Bishop Barron said. “Remember the ecstatic expression of St. Paul: it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in mean. When you’ve been seized by the power of Jesus Christ, your little ego-drama becomes pretty unimportant,” he said.  
 
The Bishop then presented three opportunities for evangelization based on the three transcendentals: truth, goodness and beauty.
 
1. The first opportunity: An intelligent truth
 
“I hate dumbed-down Catholicism,” Bishop Barron emphatically told the audience.
 
“What do I mean by that? It puts a huge stress on the superficial, the ‘banners and balloons Catholicism’ as I call it. We are a smart religion. When we don’t express Catholicism in a smart way, people fall away,” he said.
 
In particular, the Bishop urged catechists, apologists and evangelists to equip themselves with a good grasp on one of the great arguments for the existence of God. Young people often don’t have a robust understanding of God beyond a vague and irrelevant deity, he noted.
 
His favorite argument is based on contingency - that existence flows from God, and everything on the world gets its existence from him, because nothing created itself.
 
“The God that I’m talking about sustains the whole universe moment to moment the way a singer sustains a song. Continual creation - that’s the God the great Church talks about, that we must convey to our young people,” he said.
 
2. The second opportunity: The goodness of radical Christians
 
When the Christian life is embraced fully and radically, it’s goodness stands out to the world, Bishop Barron said.
 
The best example of this in the 20th century was Mother Teresa, who evangelized the world by her radical witness of goodness - caring for others indiscriminately, he said.
 
Throughout the history of the Church, he said, it was the “goodness and radicality of the Christian life that got the attention of the world,” through great saints like Benedict, Dominic and Francis.
 
“We need to recover what all these great figures found - this splendidly radical form of the Christian life. When it’s lived publicly, it evangelizes,” he said.
 
3. The third opportunity: Authentic beauty
 
Perhaps the best opportunity from which to start evangelization is with the authentic, objective beauty of the faith, Bishop Barron said.
 
And he’s not just talking about something subjectively satisfying like, say, deep-dish Chicago pizza, he said.  
 
“The objectively valuable and beautiful is not like that, it’s something so intrinsically good and beautiful that it seizes us, it stops us in our tracks - something called aesthetic arrest,” he said.
 
It’s an easy place to start evangelizing because it’s as simple as “show, don’t tell.”
 
“Just show people the beauty of Catholicism - show them Cathedrals, show them the Sistine Chapel, show them Mother Teresa’s sisters at work. Don’t tell them what to think and how to behave, show the beauty of Catholicism, and that has an evangelical power,” he said.
 
“There’s nothing more beautiful than the dying and rising of Jesus Christ,” he said, and the apostles in the New Testament communicate this with a “grab-you-by-the-shoulders” urgency.
 
“These are people who have been seized by something so powerful and so overwhelming that they want to grab the world by the shoulders and tell them about it,” he said. “We need to be filled with the same ‘grab-you-by-the-shoulders’ enthusiasm” about the beauty of our faith, he added.
 
“Yes we face obstacles, but the saints always loved a good fight, and we should love a good fight too, because we go forth with this great truth, goodness, and beauty of Jesus Christ.”

 

Rebuilt from the ashes: The story of an American basilica

Tue, 07/04/2017 - 05:41

Norfolk, Virginia, Jul 4, 2017 / 03:41 am (CNA).- An immigrant parish, burnt down, with only the crucifix remaining. A parish rebuilt, transformed and a key part in giving back to the community. In a sense, one parish’s story of struggle, pressure and rebirth is metaphor for the American Catholic experience.

St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Norfolk, Virginia, is the only black Catholic church in the United States that is also a basilica. Its dramatic history captures both the broader American Catholic history of persecution, growth and acceptance, but also a witness to the unique challenges faced by black Catholics over the centuries.

Founded originally as St. Patrick’s Parish in 1791, it is the oldest Catholic parish in the Diocese of Richmond, predating the foundation of the diocese by nearly 30 years.

“Catholicism was not legal to practice” in Virginia when the colony was founded, said Fr. Jim Curran, rector of the basilica. In much of Colonial America, before the Revolution and the signing of the Bill of Rights, churches that were not approved by the government were prohibited from operating, he told CNA.

The land originally bought in 1794 for the parish is the same ground on which the basilica today stands. From the beginning, according to the parish’s history, Catholics from all backgrounds worshiped together: Irish and German immigrants, free black persons and slaves.

However, by the 1850s, the parish’s immigrant background and mixed-race parish drew the ire of a prominent anti-Catholic movement: the Know-Nothings.

Largely concentrated in northeastern states where the immigrant influx was greatest, the movement rose and fell quickly. Concerned with maintaining the Protestant “purity of the nation,” it worked to prevent immigrants – many of whom were Catholic – from gaining the right to vote, becoming citizens, or taking elected office.

“I consider the Know-Nothings to be a sort of gatekeeper organization, by which I mean that they were both anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic at the same time,” said Fr. David Endres, an assistant professor of Church History and Historical Theology at the Athenaeum of Ohio.

He told CNA that the Know-Nothing Party was able to bring together both pro- and anti-slavery voters in the mid-1800s, united in the common “dislike of foreign-born and Catholics.”

While most anti-Catholic activities took the form of defamatory speeches and public discrimination, the prejudice sometimes turned to violence and mob action, Fr. Endres explained.

The anti-Catholic discrimination and threats found their way to St. Patrick’s doorstep, where the Know-Nothings were unhappy that the pastor was allowing racial integrated Masses, said Fr. Curran.

The pastor at that time, Fr. Matthew O’Keefe, received so many threats directed against the Church and himself that police protection was required to stop the intimidation of the Catholics worshiping at the church, according to the locals.  

Despite the threats, however, Fr. O’Keefe did not segregate the Masses. In 1856, the original church building burned down, leaving only three walls standing. Only a wooden crucifix was left unscathed.

More than 150 years later, it is still unclear exactly who or what caused the fire, but since the days following the blaze, parishioners have had their suspicions.

“We don’t know for sure if they were the ones who burned it, but it’s widely believed, it’s a commonly held notion that it’s the Know-Nothings who burnt the Church,” Fr. Curran said.   

Fr. O’Keefe and the parishioners worked hard to rebuild the church, seeking donations from Catholics along the East Coast. A new church building was constructed less than three years after the fire and is still standing today.

After the church was rebuilt, the parish renamed itself in 1858 in honor of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX in 1854. It claims to be the first church in the world named for Mary of the Immaculate Conception following the declaration.

In 1889, the Josephites built Saint Joseph's Black Catholic parish to serve the needs of the black Catholic community, and the two parishes operated separately within several blocks of one another. However, in 1961, St. Joseph’s was demolished to make way for new construction, and the two parishes were joined, reintegrating – at least in theory – St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception.

But the merger was not popular with many of the white parishioners and conflicted with the segregation policies of local government institutions and public life, Fr. Curran said. “St Mary’s became a de facto black parish.”

During this demographic shift, many parishioners of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception had to draw deeply upon their faith. Black Catholics had to be stalwart, facing prejudice from both some white parishioners, who did not view them as fully Catholic, and some black Protestants, who did not support their religious beliefs.

“They were devoted, and still are,” the rector said. “You have to be very devoted to be a Black Catholic.”

This devotion and witness of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception was formally celebrated when, in 1991, Saint Pope John Paul II elevated the 200-year-old church to a minor basilica.

“Your black cultural heritage enriches the Church and makes her witness of universality more complete. In a real way the Church needs you, just as you need the Church, for you are a part of the Church and the Church is part of you,” Pope Saint John Paul II proclaimed at the elevation.

Today, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception plays a vital role not only as the only Catholic basilica in Virginia, but also as an important anchor of the neighborhood. The basilica operates a “robust” set of outreach ministries to local families, including rent assistance and food aid, serving thousands of people.

“The Church standing proudly and beautiful in the midst of the poor is where we need to be,” Fr. Curran said.

He also pointed to the basilica’s history as an example of one way communities can aid churches affected by violence, such as the - such as the half dozen black churches across the South that have burned since late June.

“The reason why we were able to raise so much money so quickly was because there were so many people that were appalled at the burning of St. Patrick’s,” the rector said.

Tragic events like the burning of a church can actually help bring people together in a common cause, he continued.

“It unites people of faith. If people of faith who are appalled by this stand up and assist and let our voices be heard, we can do something wonderful.”

This article was originally published on CNA July 4, 2015.

Archbishop Lori: Like Doubting Thomas, God frees us from fear for mission

Mon, 07/03/2017 - 17:47

Orlando, Fla., Jul 3, 2017 / 03:47 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An encounter with the Lord frees us from sin and fear, and frees us for mission and evangelization, said Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore in his homily at the closing Mass for the USCCB’s Fortnight for Freedom.
 
The July 3 Mass was held during the Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando, Florida, and concluded the U.S. Bishop’s Fortnight for Freedom, a two week period of prayer for religious freedom in the United States.
 
The Mass was also celebrated on the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, also known as “doubting Thomas”, from whom we can learn a lot about freedom, Archbishop Lori said.  
 
Archbishop Lori started by sharing his own moment of doubting.
 
When he was about 10 years old, the only working TV set in his house broke, the Archbishop recalled. Forced to live without shows like “I Love Lucy” and Fulton Sheen’s “Life is Worth Living”, he would sneak away to friends’ houses to watch TV.
 
Then one day, his parents told him they’d won a new TV in a raffle. But he didn’t believe them, he thought they were joking.  
 
“It was only when the TV was delivered that I believed them,” the Archbishop said.
 
“Blessed are those who have not seen ‘Leave it to Beaver’ and yet still believe,” he joked.
 
But in the case of Thomas the Apostle, who didn’t believe the other apostles about the Risen Lord, the “stakes were much higher.”
 
“Thomas had been with the Lord from the beginning, heard him preach, saw the miracles, enjoyed the Lord’s friendship,” he said. But after Jesus’ crucifixion and death, it must have seemed like the end of the world to Thomas.
 
“So when the apostles said the Risen Lord had appeared, Thomas thought they were delusional and demanded proof. Thomas got his (proof) as the Lord invited him to touch his wounds, by which we are made whole,” Archbishop Lori said.
 
This encounter with the Lord set Thomas free for mission, he added. According to Church tradition, Thomas set off to evangelize India, where he didn’t know the language or the culture but he relied on the power of the Holy Spirit to spread the Gospel.
 
The theme of the Catholic Convocation is The Joy of the Gospel, after Pope Francis’ encyclical by the same name. Common threads of the convocation have been evangelization, mission and reaching the peripheries.
 
The theme of this year’s Fortnight for Freedom was “Freedom for Mission”, of which Thomas the Apostle is a good example, Archbishop Lori noted.
 
“Notice that it was for freedom that the Lord Jesus set Thomas free,” Archbishop Lori said.
 
“By breathing into Thomas the Holy Spirit, the Risen Lord set Thomas free from the yoke of sin, the Lord set Thomas free from the constraints of unbelief that lock us in a self-contained world of fear, he set thomas free for mission, free to leave everything behind so as to bring the Gospel as a stranger in a strange land,” he said.
 
“Might you and I need to undergo a process of conversion not unlike that of the Apostle Thomas?” he asked.
 
This conversion and increase of faith frees us for mission, and allows us to better protect our freedoms, especially our religious freedoms, in a country and a world where they are increasingly threatened, he added.
 
When we allow the Lord to touch us and free us from sin and fear, “we are free for mission...able to engage those who have no faith or have lost their faith, engage those alienated from the Church or who are lukewarm, those who are on the cusp of holiness and vocation and mission themselves,” he said.
 
As Catholic University of America’s President John Garvey once told a gathering of US Bishops: “If we want to preserve our freedoms, we must love God more.”
 
“Yes, we must take all the steps necessary to protect our freedom, advocate for those whose freedom has been denied, we must litigate, engage political leaders and one another,” Archbishop Lori added.
 
“But in the end, nothing will ever be more important than evangelizing, bearing witness, teaching and fulfilling our mission to love.”

 

As demographics change, how will the US Church respond?

Sun, 07/02/2017 - 22:01

Orlando, Fla., Jul 2, 2017 / 08:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The rapidly changing realities of the Catholic Church in the U.S. bring a host of challenges and unknowns, but also great opportunities for evangelization and engagement, said experts at a gathering of Catholic leaders.

“The future of U.S. Catholicism is being forged in areas once not central to U.S. Catholic life,” said Dr. Hosffman Ospino, associate professor of theology and religious education at Boston College. “Are we paying attention?”

Dr. Ospino spoke at the “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America” event on July 2 in Orlando, Florida.

He explained to more than 3,500 attendees from parishes and Catholic organizations around the country how the face of the Church in the United States is rapidly changing. In particular, he pointed to the rapid growth throughout the nation, particularly in the South and West of Hispanic communities. He also noted swift growth of other faith communities, particularly Asian Catholic communities and, within some localities, communities of immigrants from Africa. 

These changes have swiftly changed the face of American Catholic life. Fifty years ago, over 80 percent of American Catholics were of European descent. Today, that number is less than 50 percent, with 40 percent of all Catholics claiming Latino heritage, 5 percent of Asian or Pacific Islander descent, 4 percent African-American and 1 percent of Catholics of Native American descent. 

Among Catholics under the age of 30, those numbers are even more diverse.

To address these very shifts in American Catholic life, Catholics should imagine what the future of the Church will look like, Ospino said.

“What kind of community of faith will our children and grandchildren inherit?” he asked, encouraging Catholics in attendance to consider the best stories and guidance the Church can offer. 

Ospino also suggested Catholics reimagine their relationship with the public square. He warned that the ‘culture wars’ which have been a marker of American discourse in recent decades have hampered, in some cases, the Church’s ability to speak effectively to communities on the margins. 

“It has become impossible to speak about anything because one is expected to take an ideological position to make a point,” he commented.

“The Gospel, my friends, is not an ideology, to be a co-opted to advance an ideological position. The Gospel is a message of life and communion,” Ospino said to applause.

Catholics should look for other means of engaging and reaching these growing segments of the Church, and participate in the U.S. Bishops’ National Encuentro program as part of this engagement, he continued.

Dr. Ospino’s talk was followed by a panel discussion, describing the different ways the Church is growing and changing in the United States.

Jesuit Father Thomas P. Gaunt, SJ, executive director of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, explained that demographic changes in the United States do not apply just to Latino Catholics, but to all sections of the Church in the United States. He noted that populations of U.S. Catholic life are shifting away from the historic centers in the Northeast to booming job markets in the South and West. In addition, he noted, shifts are impacting African-American and Asian communities.  

Meanwhile, according to CARA’s research, nearly a third of U.S. Catholics are not connected to a local church. While this disparity is a sign for needed improvement, Fr. Gaunt suggested that this gap can also be seen as a resource.

“How do we re-invite and re-engage them once more?” he wondered. 

Kerry Weber, executive editor of America magazine, also pointed to these communities on the peripheries and noted that most of these communities have been engaged in the Church for decades or even centuries. The challenge for Catholic journalists, she said, is to show the diversity of the Church that has always been here. 

Helen Alvare, professor of law at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, pointed to the great strides the Church has made both in promoting its view of the human person in the public square and improving her own witness to the living out of respect for the human person in daily life. 

On one hand, she said, “there is an embracing of the role of women in the Church and in the public square,” and embracing of men’s integral role in raising children in the home. Furthermore, “there is a huge emerging consensus that the Church's beautiful way of marriage sex and the family is freeing for all people.” 

However, there have also been challenges. She noted that in the past several decades, challenges to the family have been a major contributor to social inequality. In addition, she said, the Church has experienced “profound losses of ideas” and understanding of teaching. 

She urged participants not to be afraid to share the Church’s message and vision for the human person – even as it confronts the messages and priorities of the secular world.  

“Since when has the Church's message anywhere not been scandalizing to the world?” she remarked.

At the same time, however, Catholics should articulate the fullness and meaning of the faith, and not rely purely on constitutional and legal arguments.  “We have to tell them what we're going to use our religious liberty for,” she insisted.  

Franciscan Father Agustino Torres, CFR, works extensively with Latino youth in New York City and explained that Latino youth – one of the largest growing populations of Catholics in the United States, “don't want just a program,” but an example of the Church’s message. He pointed to the Church’s teaching on love and sexuality as a concrete example of doctrine that youth can apply to their lives, finding Christ in the process. 

“It makes the Church relevant to young people,” Fr. Torres said.  

Daniel Owens, who spoke with his wife Melanie on the powerful encounter of love provided in the Church’s message of chastity, echoed Fr. Torres’ insights, saying that he sees a “real opportunity” in sharing the message of the Gospel, and added that the Theology of the Body has the unique ability to speak to the questions many youth face today.

Outside of any specific program or message, however, Fr. Torres stressed the importance of encounter, particularly when reaching out to young people. Within many cultures, particularly Latino youth, young people feel torn between different cultures and identities asking for their attention. 

“If the Church were to say 'you belong here, this is your home,’ you're going to get an army of missionary disciples,” he said.

Cardinal Dolan: Joy is at the heart of evangelization

Sun, 07/02/2017 - 12:22

Orlando, Fla., Jul 2, 2017 / 10:22 am (CNA/EWTN News).- As the Church continues its mission of forming disciples in the 21st century, a key component must be a witness of joy, said Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

“People may claim that they do not want faith, hope, or love. Rare is the person who does not crave joy,” the New York cardinal said July 1.

Cardinal Dolan was the homilist at the opening Mass for the Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando.

The unprecedented convocation gathered bishops, priests, consecrated religious, diocesan leaders, and representatives from Catholic ministries, parishes, and organizations. The event drew some 4,000 participants, including members of 155 dioceses and roughly 200 Catholic organizations, and 160 bishops. 

Cardinal Dolan reflected on the convocation as a time to acknowledge Christ, and recognize how he “calls us to discipleship, summons us to unity, imparts to us joy, and sends us on mission.”

He pointed to Mary as “a model of discipleship, unity, joy, and mission.”

In the account of the Visitation, he recalled, Mary “has just been told by the Archangel Gabriel that she is to be the mother of our Savior. She is thus the first disciple, attentive to God’s word, open to Jesus; she is eager for unity, closeness with her kin St. Elizabeth; she goes on a mission to tell another the glad tidings of the Lord’s imminent arrival; she and Elizabeth, as well as the two babies in their wombs, Jesus and St. John the Baptist, leap for joy.”

And it is this joy, properly understood, that will attract people to the message of the Gospel, the cardinal continued. 

True joy is not merely pleasure, giddiness, or “some syrupy, superficial feel-goodness,” but rather, as St. Paul teaches, a gift of the Holy Spirit.

“How we are tempted to concentrate on problems, worries, bad news, scandals, darkness in the Church. Lord knows we can’t ignore them, but neither can we be dominated by them. We cannot become, in the folksy term of Pope Francis, ‘a Church of sourpusses’.”

Cardinal Dolan noted that the theme of the convention, pulled from the title of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, is “The Joy of the Gospel.”

“In that teaching, the Holy Father proposes that discipleship united for mission will be characterized by and effective only with joy.”

The bishops agree that “a renewal of joy is essential for a deepening of Catholic vitality and confidence today,” he stressed.
 

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