Wahoo…Advent is here! Personally, I’ve had enough with the doom and gloom of the end-time readings that are thrust upon us during the last weeks of the liturgical year. This year, the apocalyptic images of death and destruction merely fed my already foul mood. The days are too short, the night is too dark, work and stresses continue to pile up, and the cold of winter has descended with a vengeance. I need a dose of joy not dour predictions of future desolation. Enter, Advent.
And, enter the first major papal document written solely by Pope Francis. (The Encyclical, Lumen Fidei, was written jointly with Benedict XVI.) The apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) is timed beautifully with the start of a new liturgical year. We are in the midst of a love-fest with our new pope. His daily homilies provide inspirational sound-bites. His actions show the depth of his compassion. Now, we have a document which outlines his vision and agenda for our Church. It is a document that is both practical and inspirational.
There is a sense of newness and great change around the corner. We are in an Advent moment of expectancy and hope not only in the liturgical sense, but in an ecclesial sense also. Evangelii Gaudium gives us much to ponder as we look towards what could be in our church and in our world.
In these short weeks of Advent, I would like to offer some simple reflections on this document. No, it will not be an in-depth commentary. Francis has a simple style that encourages a simple reflection. Of course, the best reflections are a nudge to dialogue. So, please do join in!