Evangelii Gaudium – “The Joy of the Gospel”

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Pope Francis has just released an apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, which means “The Joy of the Gospel.”  Over the next few weeks, we will examine the document to pull out the key points and see how they relate particularly to young adults.   In the meantime, we highly encourage everyone to read it since the Holy Father has continued the focus of his predecessors on the New Evangelization.  Here click here to read Evangelii Gaudium in its entirety.

Here are some links for initial commentary.

A Summary of Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel): Pope Francis’ First Apostolic Exhortation by Kevin Cotter

Pope Francis’ new document, Evangelii Gaudium: 9 things to know and share by Jimmy Akin

What is it?

Every culture, with no exception, teaches and bestows something. By distilling the wisdom of ages past, it instills a way of life into subsequent generations saying, “This is what is valuable; this is what lasts: make your life about this.” So it is with our current culture. It holds up many lifestyles and pursuits as worthwhile, noble and purpose-filled and, thereby, makes them attractive. One of these would definitely be that of Tom Brady. In many ways, his life is an icon of success.

But are these goals always really satisfying and ultimately worthwhile? I think this video hints at the fact that a lot of what our culture points to leaves us, in the end, saying (like Brady does), “God, there’s gotta be more than this!” We seem to thirst for something for which our culture cannot give us drink.

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” In light of the fact that our culture can point to drink that doesn’t satisfy, it is always good to examine our life – really bring our life before the jury – and examine what we are living for. We can easily slip into living for what our culture (the stew we are stewed in) teaches us to live for. Shouldn’t we take time to pull back and make sure we are living for what is meaningful, worthwhile and lasting?

This trajectory cuts right through to the ultimate question: what is the meaning of life? Well, what is it? Whatever it is – wouldn’t we want to live for that and nothing less?

Quotes from Lumen Fidei

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As I continue to read through Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis’ first encyclical, I thought that I could, over the next few days,  post some quotes that particularly struck me.  Hopefully these quotes will inspire a more detailed reading of the entire text since it is a true gift to the Church.  Click here for the entire text.

“Faith was thus understood either as a leap in the dark, to be taken in the absence of light, driven by blind emotion, or as a subjective light, capable perhaps of warming the heart and bringing personal consolation, but not something which could be proposed to others as an objective and shared light which points the way… As a result, humanity renounced the search for a great light, Truth itself, in order to be content with smaller lights which illumine the fleeting moment yet prove incapable of showing the way. Yet in the absence of light everything becomes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere.” #3

“The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence. A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source: in a word, it must come from God. Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives. Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfillment, and that a vision of the future opens up before us.” #4

Good idea or God idea?

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When we first started discussing the idea of doing a young adult ministry, we found ourselves looking at a variety of different approaches and avenues we could take. All sorts of interesting and appealing ideas came to mind and we struggled to make sense of all that we could do. We knew the Lord wanted something to be done for young adults, but we also knew that our ministry would only succeed if He anointed it. We had lots of good ideas, but what we needed was a God idea.

Let me make something clear; God ideas are always good ideas, but good ideas are not always God ideas. For instance, it’s a good idea to tell people about Jesus but if you haven’t been given a gift for preaching it might not be a God idea for you to stand on a street corner and just start talking. Conversely, it might not seem like the right time to tell your friend that Jesus loves them and is inviting them into a deep and lasting relationship with Him, but if the Holy Spirit truly inspires you to pick up the phone and make the call, then you can be peaceful in knowing that you lived out a God idea.

Very often we discover the difference between our good ideas and God’s ideas when we try something and see the fruits of our labor. Jesus tells us to judge the tree by its fruits and St. Paul recommends testing everything and holding fast to what is good. Sometimes the fruit is clearly rotten or obviously delicious, but other times we have to prayerfully consider it over an extended period of time. For example, we hear the Lord and call our friend, but he quickly changes the subject and rejects our attempt to evangelize. Initially, by all accounts the fruit of our phone call is non-existent or maybe even harmful. However, we may find that our attempt planted a seed that needed time to grow and eventually produced fruit like a converted heart or even a follow-up conversation.

It can be extremely difficult at times to discern what the Lord wants from us, but as we grow in our relationship with Him and operate in the power of the Holy Spirit, the still small voice of God becomes clearer. The Lord wants us to be bold but prudent; excited but controlled; Jesus also tells us to “be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) Jesus wants us to tell Him our aspirations and goals, but the life of a disciple requires that we ultimately submit our will to the One we follow. Unlike following any normal human being who will ultimately fail and let us down; when we submit to the will of Jesus we can be confident that His plan will lead to the peaceful, joyful, and hope-filled life we all desire.

Clearly there will be sufferings and pain even while following Christ’s plan, but this post isn’t long enough to deal with that and the subsequent grace that accompanies those moments. We will definitely spend more time on this blog discussing suffering and discernment since they are vitally important pieces of our walk with Christ. As intentional disciples, we must listen attentively to the will of our Lord because only the things that He ordains will bear significant fruit in our lives and in the lives of others. So, as you go through your day today and you are faced with a decision, stop and think, “Is this a good idea or a God idea?”

Disciples in the Marketplace

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This past Saturday, i.d.916, together with the Ann Arbor chapter of Legatus, held our first annual conference, Disciples in the Marketplace, at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, MI. It was a rousing success. We praise the Lord for his guidance and His Spirit that gave such tremendous life to the event.  The event was attended by approximately 90 young adults from Iowa, Canada and all over Southeastern Michigan–ranging from lawyers, medical professionals, IT specialists, teachers, and those in career transitions. In large part, the success of the event was due to the professionals who came to mentor the young adults. We were blessed to have around 20 successful, seasoned professionals from a wide array of fields impart to us their wisdom about how to be faithful followers of Jesus in whatever marketplace we find ourselves.

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We heard talks and presentations from Bishop Michael Byrnes from the Archdiocese of Detroit, Deacon Larry Oney from New Orleans and a variety of others. In addition, we also had fourteen discussion groups in which we explored the realities of living as a disciple. We closed the day with a casual hour of mingling, networking and face-to-face time. Though the day was jam-packed, it was a very productive, fruitful and encouraging time to band together as Catholics, meet new people and discuss a very important aspect of our lives.

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As the day concluded, we had the attendees fill out evaluations.  Here is what few of them had to say:

“My experience at this event will dramatically change my work life and my discipleship.”

“Inspiring and challenging – like God is asking more of me.”

“Left wanting more of this!”

“Well worth a beautiful Saturday.”

Thank you to all who helped make this event possible.  May the Lord continue to guide and bless us all as we walk in His Spirit.

4 Minute Apologetics: Redefining Marriage

This is a first in a series of short apologetic clips on the redefinition of marriage.  In this video, Joey McCoy examines the union that marriage is founded upon.

Link to “What Is Marriage” by Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson and Robert George

http://www.amazon.com/What-Is-Marriage-Woman-Defense/dp/1594036225