The pope's recent Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, is guiding my Lenten journey. I treat myself to a few paragraphs daily. This document is the only Vatican publication I've encountered that I wish would not end. The text is well-translated and quite readable, and even more important, very inspiring. Pope Francis helps me to rediscover a spiritual center that somehow I've misplaced over the years: "to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ."
Additionally, one of our fellow friars who is our regional coordinator for evangelization in the Archdiocese of Detroit, has given a regional three-evening workshop on parish evangelization which our parish in Southfield, Mich., is hosting. Several members of our pastoral council attended the workshops. The topic of evangelization is beginning to dominate our monthly meetings, as it should.
Some questions keep arising: What took me so long to appreciate the priority of evangelization? Did the election of Pope Francis a year ago help bring proclamation of the gospel forward? Why didn't Paul VI's message in Evangelii nuntiandi garner more interest back in 1975 when it was first issued? What am I as a follower of St. Francis going to do about it? Our chapter in May will propose that each local friary embrace one project of evangelization. That may be the push I need to become more intentional about spreading the good news.
Fr Bill Farris, OFM