October 2, 2022 Essay: Evangelii Gaudium: Preaching the Joys of the Gospel
The Lay Ministers’ Enrichment Ministry (LME) presents days of reflection for all parishioners, especially those engaged in the many liturgical and service ministries at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. Through its ministry, LME seeks to enhance, strengthen and deepen our faith in and devotion to the Gospel by presenting programs, often in collaboration with other ministries at St. Ignatius.
Recently, LME has focused on programmatic themes from encyclicals of Pope Francis: Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti. This year, we continue our journey of exploring the words of Pope Francis in his 2013 encyclical, Evangelii Gaudium (EG), or The Joy of the Gospel. (Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis 2015, Apostolic Exhortation on the Evangelism of the Gospel in Today’s World (23 November 2013)). In this encyclical, Pope Francis calls on all Catholics to overcome complacency in our everyday lives and revive our “personal commitment to Christ.” The Holy Father especially calls on us to “hear the cry of the poor.” EG at 3-4.
In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis exhorts us to let the joy of the Gospel fill our hearts and minds. He encourages us “…to embark on a new chapter of evangelization marked by [finding joy in the Gospel]…” EG at 3. It is often difficult in our daily lives to remind ourselves that Christ’s Gospel calls on us to be joyful in all that we do. We all live busy lives full of daily “trials and tribulations” which threaten to overwhelm us, making it hard to find something left in ourselves that we can give to others, especially those who are poor in spirit or material goods. Yet, if we, as Catholics, want to live dignified and faith-fulfilled lives, we need to renew our commitment to proclaim Christ’s Gospel through our daily interactions and avoid allowing our earthly concerns to overwhelm our inner spirit of faith. We need to reaffirm our commitment to helping others.
This program year, LME will sponsor three programs (October 21, 2022, January 28, 2023, and May 2023) that explore the themes of personal evangelization: finding daily joy in the Gospel and becoming better attuned in our daily lives to “hearing the cry of the poor.” In collaboration with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (St. Lawrence O’Toole Conference) here at St. Ignatius Loyola, we will contemplate and reflect on the life and ministry of St. Vincent de Paul, who devoted himself to the needs of the poor throughout his priestly ministry, with a screening of the 1947 foreign film, Monsieur Vincent on Friday evening, October 21st at 6:30 PM in Wallace Hall. Throughout his ministry, St. Vincent ministered to the poor, the sick, and the enslaved, showing merciful kindness to anyone in need.
The film, Monsieur Vincent, may be seventy-five years old, but its themes of mercy, kindness, and service still speak to us today as modern Catholics living in New York City. St. Vincent’s devotion to the poor, even in the face of ingratitude, shows us that we too can find our own joy in the Gospel through daily acts of kindness. Like St. Vincent, we can also find ways to minister to those who need our help every day, especially the poor. No grand gesture is required; instead, we can engage in small gestures of kindness throughout our day in our encounters with our families, our friends, our colleagues, and, yes, strangers. Through these small acts of kindness, we evince our “evangelical joy” in the Gospel of Christ. We hope that you will join us on this journey as we explore how we, too, can preach the joys of the Gospel and live the life Christ Jesus calls us to live.
– Karen Greve Milton, Co-Chair, Lay Ministers’ Enrichment Ministry