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SERVE THE LORD WITH GLADNESS | Becoming a more evangelizing Church requires creativity in bringing Jesus into the cultural context

Mary addressed Juan Diego in his native language and used symbols that the native people would recognize

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12. It’s one of the great episodes of evangelization in Church history!

We celebrate it on Dec. 12, because according to the accounts, that’s the day on which Mary arranged the roses in Juan Diego’s tilma and it received the miraculous image. It’s amazing to hear that Mary addressed Juan Diego in his native language, left an image of herself as one of the native people and used symbols that they would recognize. Then, within a few years, some nine million people converted to faith in Christ!

It’s no accident that one of the Gospel options for the feast day is the episode of the Visitation (Luke 1). The pregnant Mary brought Jesus to her kinswoman Elizabeth; in a similar way, the pregnant Virgin of Guadalupe brought the Christ child to the people of Mexico.

That’s a great pattern for us as we think about how to become a more evangelizing Church: How do we bring Jesus to those we meet in a way that they can understand? It requires knowledge of the context — whether cultural or individual — and some creativity in bringing Jesus into that context. Mary knew the hearts of the Mexican people and was very creative in speaking to the needs of their hearts! We need to do the same in our own contexts.

There have been some great examples of that throughout Church history that have had an important impact on the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The founding of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul by Blessed Frederic Ozanam in the mid-1800s is one example. We benefit from that in St. Louis both because the national headquarters of the society is here and because of the many St. Vincent de Paul councils we have in our parishes.

The creation of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd by Sofia Cavelletti in the mid-1900s is another great example. We benefit from that in St. Louis because of the many parishes that have an “atrium” where the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is taught.

Another great example is the upcoming SEEK24 conference, one of the signature events of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). FOCUS specializes in bringing Jesus to college campuses. We benefit from that in St. Louis both because the conference brought more than 17,000 young adults here last year for prayer, fellowship and evangelization training, and because the event will happen right here again from Jan. 1-5, just a few short weeks away!

SEEK24 comes to St. Louis at a pivotal time for us, as we seek to become a more evangelizing Church. I encourage people to attend or to pray for the conference. The need to learn more about evangelization and the need to receive the energy of the young Church speaks to some of the deepest desires of our own hearts today.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

From the Archive Module

SERVE THE LORD WITH GLADNESS Becoming a more evangelizing Church requires creativity in bringing Jesus into the cultural context 9207

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