My favorite passage from Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, calls us to: “…stir up enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelization full of fervor, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love and attraction!” (#261)
Pope Francis expresses a new energy and enthusiasm that shouts out and exhorts. Some call it a new confidence and attraction that is filling the atmosphere and bringing new attention to Christ and the Church. I agree with this characterization and experienced it when so many gathered from every corner of the Archdiocese at last Tuesday’s Chrism Mass and again, at last weekend’s Easter Vigil. We had four adult baptisms at the Cathedral, and I felt the excitement of those renewing their baptismal promises and especially those being baptized.
In his 5th century masterpiece, Confessions, St. Augustine wrote about how the beauty of God emerges ever ancient, ever new, as does the presence of holiness in the Church. Here is the lovely quote of St. Augustine: “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”
This weekend, two great popes will be canonized as saints – two faithful witnesses in the pattern of Jesus Christ. In both men, we find the beauty of God that is ever ancient and ever new.