MOSAIC Spring 2014 - Page 33

LIVING IN THE LIGHT Spirituality for the Layperson A Spirituality of Joy and Optimism W Dr. Patricia Cooney Hathaway Dr. Patricia Cooney Hathaway is professor ­ of spirituality and systematic theology at Sacred Heart. evangelization, and it would be insufficient hen the occasion warranted it, my to envisage a plan of evangelization to be father would remind me, “You will carried out by professionals while the rest get farther in life with honey than of the faithful would simply be passive with vinegar.” I recalled his advice when I read recipients” (no. 120). Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation, The Joy As missionary disciples, Francis cautions of the Gospel. us to “beware of Christians whose lives seem At a time when the New Evangelization like Lent rather than Easter” (no. 6). He runs the risk of being identified too narrowly Dr. Patricia Cooney Hathaway is professor of spirituality reminds us that “no one She is a nationally with sin, the narrow way, and the all-pervading and systematic theology at Sacred Heart.can receive the good news in the areas of spirituality and theology. presence of the demonic, Francis, while ­ecognized speaker from evangelizers who are dejected, r discouraged, impatient or anxious” (no. 10). acknowledging those realities, prefers to focus In whatever way we are called to live the on a “new chapter of evangelization marked gospel, Francis encourages us to begin with by joy” (no. 1). He introduces his message with joy and confidence (no. 8) John 15:11: “I have said these things to you so Such optimism does not shy away from that my joy may be in you and that your joy the challenges of our time. Francis identifies may be complete.” human trafficking, the narcotics trade, The pope’s exhortation is optimistic yet challenging, calling us to be unapologetic about the abuse of minors, the abandonment of the elderly, etc., as posing challenges to who we are as followers of Jesus Christ. He evangelization (no. 53). As a response to such describes an evangelization of persuasion rather social evils, he offers a proclamation of the than confrontation; a theology that invites gospel as a basis for restoring the dignity of people to know the joy of sharing the message of Jesus rather than a theology of judgment and human life (no. 75) A gospel way of life is not only about fear. a personal relationship with God. It is also Here are a few examples of the pope’s dedicated to bringing about God’s kingdom invitations that struck a deep chord in me as of love and mercy in our world. Pope Francis vital for a spirituality for the laity. reminds us, “The Son of God, by becoming Pope Francis invites everyone to a renewed flesh, summoned us to the revolution of personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the tenderness” (no. 88). This revolution is source and inspiration of our evangelization. expressed in a spirituality that finds Jesus in the He shares with us a wonderfully positive image faces of others, especially the poor and outcast, of Jesus. in their voices, in their pleas; a spirituality that “Whenever we take a step toward Jesus, we serves them with tenderness and mercy (no. 91). come to realize that he is already there, waiting Pope Francis sees his personal mission as with open arms. . . . How good it feels to come one of welcoming people to the life and energy back to him whenever we are lost! . . . With of the gospel as an antidote to the despair and a tenderness which never disappoints, but is cynicism of the world. As such, he has been always capable of restoring our joy, he makes welcomed by millions of men and women as a it possible for us to lift up our heads and to breath of fresh air. start anew” (no. 3). My father was right. “Honey rather than What is the key to Francis’ new vinegar,” a message of joy and compassion, not evangelization? “Get moving!” He calls just sin and condemnation, will enable men everyone to be a missionary disciple of and women to find in Jesus the source and the good news. “All the baptized, whatever meaning of their lives. “I have come to bring their position in the Church or their level you life, life in abundance” (Jn 10: 10). of instruction in the faith, are agents of Spring 2014 n Sacred Heart Major Seminary 31