The Joy of the Gospel

This Sunday, formerly called Home Mission Sunday, is now known as Evangelii Gaudium Sunday. Evangelii Gaudium is Latin for the ‘Joy of the Gospel’. Named after Pope Francis’ first solo Apostolic Exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel, this day offers the Catholic community in England and Wales the opportunity to celebrate the beauty of our faith and our commitment to witness to the fullness of life in Christ.

It is good to remember that it was nine years ago that this Exhortation was first published. At the time, our then Archbishop, Peter Smith, had a meeting with the Deans of the Diocese and gave everyone a copy to read and share. He also organised meetings in the three areas of the Diocese for everyone to come and begin to share what the Pope had written and discover ways to make his challenges a reality in our lives and in our parishes.

Here is a reminder of what the Pope said about the Parish:

“The parish is not an outdated institution; precisely because it possesses great flexibility, it can assume quite different contours depending on the openness and missionary creativity of the pastor and the community. While certainly not the only institution which evangelises, if the parish proves capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity, it continues to be “the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters”.

Pope Francis doesn’t want us to be a useless structure, out of touch with people or a self-absorbed group made up of a chosen few.

Our Diocesan agency for Evangelisation and Catechesis is encouraging us to think of three people who have yet to come back to the church and to pray the Novena for their return, starting today the 18th of September. There are cards at the back of the church to help us to do this. It is suggested that, at the end of the 9 days of prayer, we reach out to those individuals to encourage a return; “this could be via a phone calling or a conversation over coffee or a meal”.

Pope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium, says:

“I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelisation in their respective communities. A proposal of goals without an adequate communal search for the means of achieving them will inevitably prove illusory. I encourage everyone to apply the guidelines found in this document generously and courageously, without inhibitions or fear.”

Help me Lord to understand what it means for me to be a missionary disciple. Show me what you want me to do to share the good news with another.

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest