Wednesday, June 29, 2011


The newly-named archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola, is quoted in a recent blog-post as saying, in part:

…I believe that the Christian proposal is particularly relevant now, because if we read the Gospel we see it revolves around the theme of happiness and freedom. Jesus said that if you wish to be happy, come and follow me, and he who follows me will be truly free. It inserts the dynamic of truth, goodness and beauty within the horizon of happiness and freedom.
So when the Christian proposal is freed from the many things that weigh it down because of the contradictions and sins in the men and women of the church, and is re-proposed in its youthful simplicity as an encounter with a humanity made whole by Christ, then it is more relevant than ever....
Certainly, Christianity implies a doctrine and a moral teaching, but they are incarnated in the life of a person and in the life of a community. Therefore, if I practice the Christian life for what it is – ‘the good life’ which the Gospel documents and witnesses to, then I can go and dialogue with everyone....”

There is a fundamental and important truth to this statement. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take a great deal of insight to understand all that comes under the phrase “the contradictions and sins in the men and women of the church.” And this is the core of the real problem (which in politics is simply labeled ‘credibility’): how does one effectively (even partially) separate the message from the messenger?

If, as Cardinal Scola states, the Christian proclamation is “incarnated in the life of a person and in the life of a community,” then the quality of the proclamation is either enhanced or damaged by the quality of that incarnation in me/you/us. Tertullian long ago in the 2nd century asserted that Christians were known for the way they loved each other. We proclaim that in a hymn from the 1960s/1970s that is still sung today. But when it is not true that we love the Lord and others, when we become known for other behaviors instead, then we become anti-evangelists and signs of contradiction of a kind unimagined by Simeon (Luke 2:34).

Perhaps this is why Bl Charles de Foucauld insisted that the best evangelization is to “cry the Gospel with one’s life.” In fact, this may be the only proper and true evangelization in today’s world (see I Peter 3:15)—be ready to speak, but wait to be asked, and live so as to encourage the asking…


  1. This is a blog of rustic simplicity - to be read, absorbed, and re-read.
    It needs to be copied, imitated, and the living repeated over and over, hour by hour, until a habit is formed. And God, be merciful, let an apathetic Christian life be energized so that these energized beings can grow in number and overwhelm the untouched (by grace) souls of this secular world.

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