Editor’s note: Today we welcome Glenna Bradshaw to the New Evangelizers blogging team!
“Catholicism is a celebration, in words and imagery, of the God who takes infinite delight in bringing human beings to the fullness of life.”
So says Fr. Robert Barron in his new book Catholicism (2011).
Catholicism is a celebration. Really? As a cradle Catholic, I would have never defined my religion in terms of “celebration” when I was younger.
Even as I grew to love the Faith, my experience of it was still defined more by the boundary lines of what was sinful rather than the spontaneous joy associated with celebration.
Celebration means to observe notable occasions with festivities. So, in effect, Fr. Barron is saying that as Catholics we observe the notable occasion of all of the Creation of almighty God with the “festivity” of words and imagery.
And, as Catholics, we are not the only ones who celebrate. God too is taking infinite delight in us and in bringing us to the fullness of life in Him. That’s a pretty amazing definition of our 2,000 year old faith!
That, indeed, is something to celebrate.
So that’s one reason I’m so happy that our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, has called us to celebrate our Faith by declaring the Year of Faith that begins October 11, 2012.
Providentially, this new Year of Faith occurs at a time when many Catholics in western and middle eastern cultures, where Christian belief is the oldest, have grown “weary,” to quote our Holy Father.
Weariness doesn’t really belong at a celebration, does it? Weariness belongs with the old, the tired, the worn out.
But, again, our Holy Father has told us that our Faith is “always young.” So how do the young, and young at heart, celebrate? With cheerfulness.
If there is a question in any Catholic’s mind regarding what is the single best way to evangelize or tell others about our Faith-that-is-worth-celebrating, the answer is simple cheerfulness.
After his conversion, Paul Claudel said, “Tell them their only duty is cheerfulness! Because joy is the sign that we love God and thus we do a great good for others and for ourselves. We must be happy and others must know we are.”
An Opus Dei priest, Francis Fernandez Carvajal, tells us that, “To be happy is a way of giving God thanks…because He has created us for joy, has made us cheerful creatures and our cheerfulness is the first tribute we owe to Him..” (“Overcoming Lukewarmness”, 2011).
Stop for a moment and think of what you see as you walk down the street, through the corridors of academia, in the malls and even in our churches. How many people are smiling? How many homes demonstrate the fruits of generosity and friendliness? How often is simple courtesy extended to those we come in contact with during the day, especially those we live with?
In our digitalized, polarized and fragmented world, the Simplicity of Cheerfulness is an easily identified and indisputable testimony to the reality of the Catholic Faith that we celebrating and a good way to begin evangelize!
Copyright © 2012, Glenna Bradshaw