NATURE OF THE CHURCH REFLECTION
This course was very informative, and I found it quite interesting. I was expecting it to be, honestly, very dull. I got a lot out of it. Well, maybe it was that I was disinterested in learning how the Catholic Church works because I have been a Catholic all my life and thought I knew everything. I didn’t then, and still don’t now. Nature of the Church helped me realize this. I was only really intending to take the course and get it over with for my major, but in retrospect, I realize what learning about the church and the evangelical part of her nature brought me: joy.
The Joy of Evangelization
The topic of evangelization was particularly striking to me. Prior to taking this course, I had read Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on proclaiming the Gospel. I had no idea that this document was about evangelization. Now, I understand it. Evangelization seems to be a very Protestant concept, and it scares a lot of Catholics away, probably because it seems like brow-beating. However, even Catholics need to be evangelized…Catholics must evangelize each other. “There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter. I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty” (Evangelii Gaudium 6). At these moments of great difficulty, evangelization is important. Evangelization with a renewed joy is also important for “Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter” (Evangelii Gaudium 6), because they do not have the joy of Christ.
Conversion Caused By Love
When someone speaks joyfully and passionately about something, it is easy to tell. Joy is a personal thing, an emotion that is felt differently by each person “Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved” (Evangelii Gaudium 6). Evangelizing is speaking joyfully about the love of God. Conversion is the goal, but it is a response to realizing that “we are infinitely loved” (Evangelii Gaudium 6). To paraphrase St. Thomas Aquinas, If you want to convert someone, take them by the hand and guide them.
Why We Lack Joy In Evangelizing
“Sometimes we are tempted to find excuses and complain, acting as if we could only be happy if a thousand conditions were met.” (Evangelii Gaudium 7). We all have the “what’s in it for me?” attitude, and we want results immediately, because we are conditioned for instant gratification. Our “technological society has succeeded in multiplying occasions of pleasure, yet has found it very difficult to engender joy” (Evangelii Gaudium 7). We get frustrated if something doesn’t work quickly or if we don’t get answers immediately. Evangelizing is not like texting. There is not an instant result. Because of our frustration, we don’t have joy, which turns people off from conversion. They don’t want to become Christians who live life that is like Lent without Easter. Joy and the evangelical nature of the Church go hand in hand.