Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I have seen for myself the beauty of the faith as it’s expressed in the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.
I have seen for myself the generosity of faith expressed in your response to the Annual Catholic Appeal.
I think the time has come for us to discover, together, how that same faith, beauty, and generosity — evident in so many concrete expressions throughout the Archdiocese of St. Louis — can also be expressed through evangelization.
I don’t claim to have a program for that. I don’t think anyone does! But it’s time for us to start thinking about and imagining how we can proclaim the Gospel to the world with the same generosity and beauty with which we have done other things.
The feast of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica on Nov. 9 offers an opportunity to think about it. The readings for the day mention “the temple” 12 times — a great symbolic biblical number. And if you read the Scriptures carefully, you can see a transformation in how the temple is presented. At first the temple is a building in Jerusalem. Then Jesus speaks of the temple of His body. And finally St. Paul says: “You are God’s building … You are God’s temple.” It’s one reality, but it finds new and deeper expressions in salvation history. In a similar way, the one reality of faith that lies behind the beauty of the cathedral basilica and the generosity of the ACA can find a new expression in evangelization.
At the beginning of Mass, the book of Gospels is processed in. But at the end of the Mass it’s not processed out. Why? Because having heard the Gospel, responded to it in faith and received Jesus in the Eucharist, we are called to bring the Gospel out with us, our words and deeds becoming a living proclamation of the Gospel to the world.
When it comes to our loved ones, we look for opportunities to express our affection for them. In a similar way, we need to begin to look for opportunities to proclaim the Gospel to the world.
There’s no one way to do that. The saints we celebrate this week are a good example. St. Martin of Tours lived in the 300s in France, a Roman soldier born to pagan parents. St. Leo the Great lived in the 400s in Rome, when Roman culture was falling apart and the Church was divided by fundamental confusion. St. Josaphat lived in the 1500s in the Ukraine and Poland, and was martyred in the midst of religious division. St. Frances Cabrini lived in the 1800s and early 1900s, and was a U.S. immigrant who started schools, hospitals and orphanages for other immigrants. These saints lived in different places and times, and faced different issues; they all found a way to proclaim the Gospel. They invite us and challenge us to do the same.
No single mosaic tile in the cathedral does great things on its own. It doesn’t have to. But all of them together do something great, each making a contribution from its own place. Together they proclaim one great truth — the truth about Jesus Christ. Inspired by that example, may we learn to do the same in an equally beautiful way. That’s a building project worthy of our time.