When speakers at the Convocation of Catholic Leaders started making calls to be "radical," one would have expected cautious gasps.
Instead, a crowd of 3,500 let out enthusiastic applause. They knew why they'd been appointed as delegates to the historic meeting, and they knew that term would become a rally cry.
In modern usage, the word tends to have a negative connotation, be it because of violent extremists or mouthy pundits. But the origin of the word is from the Latin word radix, or root. To be radical is to embrace the roots of something, to have a secure foundation that fosters growth.
So it is that we've been called to radical Christianity and to radical missionary discipleship, as was a common mantra of the convocation.
To be radical missionary disciples, we must go to the peripheries of our culture and our faith to bring the Gospel to whoever is open to listening. It's a step toward what Pope Francis calls a "'missionary option' that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church's customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today's world rather than for her self-preservation."
We also must express radical joy and radical hospitality.
Our joy must replace the temptation "which stifles boldness and zeal is a defeatism which turns us into querulous and disillusioned pessimists, 'sourpusses,'" as mentioned in "Evangelii Gaudium," "The Joy of the Gospel." Afterall, nobody likes sourpusses.
The radical call to hospitality means welcoming the stranger as we would our families. It means ending the divisions of our communities, our parishes and our Church. It means rejecting complacency and getting out of our comfort zones to engage and encounter those we might normally avoid. And it means being "hospitable to one another without complaining." (1 Peter 4:9). Afterall, nobody likes complainers.
Neither of these radical calls will succeed without pursuing our own personal holiness, as Bishop Frank Caggione told the delegates. "We cannot give He who we do not know," the Bishop of Bridgeport said. "And well before it's anything we do out there, it's the type of person as who we are in Christ."
Afterall, no one is more radical than Jesus Christ.
Actions for the Radical Evangelist
Leave your comfort zone
Go to the peripheries
Proclaim the Gospel
Reading for the Radical Evangelist
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