Year of Faith: Called to a New Evangelization Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Thursday, Mar. 08, 2012 -- 1:00 AM

Dear Friends,

In October we will begin something very important in the life of the Church; we will begin a Year of Faith. When we begin, it will be a big deal and if you’re an active Catholic you won’t be able to miss it. A Year of Faith is a time when we are called precisely to realize that in our Church and in the world there is a crisis of faith. Because of that crisis of faith, because the world, more and more, turns in the direction of godlessness, we need this Year of Faith to strengthen our New Evangelization. That happened to be the theme which we bishops discussed very much with our Holy Father and with the heads of the various Vatican offices during our recent Ad Limina visit.

We are called to a New Evangelization to address the crisis of faith. The world is turning toward godlessness and secularism, and we have to fight that activity of Satan just as Jesus fought the activity of Satan in the desert. The theme and the focal point for the New Evangelization during the Year of Faith is going to be a beautiful one — for it is going to be beauty itself.

Calling attention to the world of beauty

First of all, notice that we want to call the attention of the world to beauty. The Church is the seat of unchangeable Truth, but that doesn’t appeal to a lot of people; the Church is the place where the goodness of the Lord dwells, by way of His moral law; but that doesn’t appeal to a lot of people either. The Church is also the place where the beauty of God dwells, and those that are less than enthusiastic, for whatever reason, about Truth or moral goodness are frequently still interested in beauty, for beauty calls forth emotion, and our world loves to celebrate feelings. So we want to call out to the world, “come to us, in Christ, to experience beauty.”

Now what beauty am I talking about, what does it mean? Not surprisingly there are three levels of beauty on which I want to focus.

Beauty of lives of charity

The first level of beauty in the Church is the beauty of the people, the beauty of your lives of charity. There is a tremendous amount of charity in this diocese, and the expression of charity is unmistakably beautiful. At this time of Lent we are called to remember that we can do even more, for if we do not give a glowing witness of charity, then the New Evangelization is thwarted. I mean not only the witness of our charitable actions, those are important, but I mean charity as disposition of deep selfless love. And that means charity toward everyone. That unselfish love of charity is the foundation of any other beauty that we might have to offer the world, and especially of the beauty that we might have to offer those who are looking for Jesus Christ.

Beauty of all creation

The second level of beauty to which we want to invite others to share, building on the foundation of our charity, is the beauty of all creation. The Church is truly “green,” but not simply the way others might be interested in being “green.” The beauty of creation is received every day from the Creator, and we know that there is a harmony in nature, and that we are called to be responsible stewards of that harmony of nature. This is an awareness that is kind of new for so many, especially as Americans, and so many people are enthused about it. That enthusiasm is wonderful because the harmony that we seek to uphold in nature is the harmony that was put there by God.

God has written the laws of creation. We can see what causes harmony and what causes disharmony — and we try to avoid that which causes disharmony and promote that which causes harmony. But, the beauty of nature is the beauty that was given by God, according to His laws. Creation speaks a language of harmony, and we can either speak that language in harmony with nature, or we can speak nonsense in terms of a lack of care for the beautiful harmony in nature, which is God’s gift to us.

The beauty which emerges when the language of creation is spoken correctly and respected so that there is harmony, applies not only to the physical nature around us, in terms of our environment, but also to human nature. And the Church has a special gift and duty to perceive and to offer the world the beauty of human nature in harmony, the ecology of human nature, and the language of human nature, the language of the pinnacle of creation.

We, the Church, are entrusted in a special way with speaking that language. That language of creation is written in every human heart and is available for every human person to speak, but the Church accepts it, promotes it, and proclaims it as the beautiful gift of God that it is. We protect the ecology of human nature because its language is true — true for all. The language of creation is not Catholic in its source. Catholics speak that language because it is true and beautiful.

What does the language of human nature tell us? It tells us things that we know, but sometimes lose sight of. That language tells us that every human being has an unsurpassed dignity; all can figure that out, reflecting on the beauty of their human nature. As we carefully reflect on it, the language of creation tells us that nothing is more sacred than a human life, from conception to natural death. The language of creation tells us the beautiful truth that marriage is between a man and a woman, for a lifetime, with openness to children — that is a message of the language of creation. This is all part of protecting human ecology.

This language is what makes our humanity beautiful, and when we distort that language our humanity becomes our enemy, rather than our friend. This is a beauty which all human beings, just because we are human, are called to recognize. However, because this is authentically human, the Church proclaims it — the truth of the language of creation. It is not a Catholic truth, but through Jesus Christ we have an insight into the beauty of human nature, and so it is one of the major things we should offer the world, and offer those who are looking for God during the Year of Faith.

Beauty in the liturgy

Lastly, in the Year of Faith, we want to offer the world, and our brothers and sisters in the Church, beauty in the liturgy. I’m not going to write at great lengths now, because I have done so, and will do so at other times, but the liturgy should never be anything less that beautiful. The Year of Faith will be a time for all of us in our parish families to reflect on our liturgies and whether it is in fact something less than beautiful. We have a beautiful new translation, but the beauty of the translation cannot carry the liturgy all by itself. We need beautiful, charitable people celebrating in a way that is beautiful and harmonious with the new translation, so that the whole liturgy, from beginning to end, is beautiful. The Year of Faith is a time to polish up that expression of beauty in the liturgy, and we’ll have all kinds of suggestions on how to do that.

If people see beauty in the disciples of Jesus Christ, who are Catholic Christians, if we see the beauty of nature and creation — especially in the human being, and if people respect and want to speak correctly the language of creation, and if people see beauty in our liturgy, then the New Evangelization will blossom forth and will bear abundant fruit. That’s what we want to proclaim. That is the message of our New Evangelization.

Thank you very much for reading this. God bless you and yours. Praised be Jesus Christ!