Want to change the world? It starts with joy, Archbishop Chaput says

“Faith is a seed,” Archbishop Chaput told attendees of the Napa Institute Conference in California, “It doesn’t flower overnight. It takes time and love and effort.”

(CNS Photo)

Napa, Calif., Jul 27, 2017 / 04:40 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a world that can sometimes seem disheartening, Christians have a path to the future in lives of joy and love, Archbishop Chaput said Thursday.

While Christians need to see the world’s problems as they are, “we can’t let the weight of the world crush the joy that’s our birthright by our rebirth in Jesus Christ through baptism,” he said.

“If we cling to that joy, if we cling to God, then all things are possible,” he added. “The only way to create new life in a culture is to live our lives joyfully and fruitfully, as individuals ruled by convictions greater than ourselves and shared with people we know and love. It’s a path that’s very simple and very hard at the same time. But it’s the only way to make a revolution that matters.”

Archbishop Chaput spoke July 27 at the Napa Institute conference in Napa, Calif. The institute aims to help Catholic leaders face the challenges of contemporary America.

“When young people ask me how to change the world,” he said, “I tell them to love each other, get married, stay faithful to one another, have lots of children, and raise those children to be men and women of Christian character. Faith is a seed. It doesn’t flower overnight. It takes time and love and effort.”

“The future belongs to people with children, not with things. Things rust and break,” the archbishop continued. “But every child is a universe of possibility that reaches into eternity, connecting our memories and our hopes in a sign of God’s love across the generations. That’s what matters. The soul of a child is forever.”

In the face of the many challenges of today, he pointed to an idea from St. Augustine: “it’s no use whining about the times, because we are the times.”

“It’s through us that God acts in society and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is carried forward. So we need to own that mission. And only when we do, will anything change for the better,” the archbishop said.

“This isn’t a time to retreat from the world. We need to engage the world and convert it,” he added, saying “we have every reason to trust in God and find in him our hope.” The archbishop encouraged his audience to read and pray over Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium.”

Reflecting on the temptation to give up, Archbishop Chaput said this is “always easier than fighting for what we believe and living what we know to be true.”

“Cowardice solves the problem of conflict – at least in the short run. But it abandons the many thousands of great young Catholic lay and clergy leaders who are already part of our landscape,” he said. “I know many of them. And they look to us for example and support.”

While Catholics could react to this situation with “a well-crafted strategic plan,” the archbishop said there is no “quick fix” for cultures, which are more like living organisms than corporations or math problems.

Prayer was also a focus of his remarks. Reflecting on the “hellish” aspect to modern life that people fill with “discord, confusion and noise,” he recommended Cardinal Robert Sarah’s book The Power of Silence. He encouraged his audience to “turn off the noise that cocoons us in consumer anxieties and appetites.”

“If we don’t pray, we can’t know and love God,” Archbishop Chaput said.

He endorsed reading the Bible as an antidote to the noise of life. Reading the Bible, as well as history, biography, and great novels, is an antidote to “chronic stupidity and a conditioning by mass media that have no sympathy for the things we believe.”

Archbishop Chaput suggested that the modern world is not much different from the Athens that St. Paul visited. The city was “full of idols,” where everyone “spent their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.” There, St. Paul disputed with Jews, devout persons, philosophers, and other residents.

The Acts of the Apostles show “the perpetual newness of the Gospel,” the archbishop said.

“They’re also a portrait of courage as St. Paul, Christianity’s greatest missionary, preaches the Gospel in the sophisticated heart of Athens,” he continued. Despite mockery and condemnation, St. Paul persists and “understands that his audience has a fundamental hunger for the godly that hasn’t been fed, and he refuses to be quiet or afraid.”

Even after seeming failure, he had planted a seed of faith that would grow into “a Church with deep roots.”

The archbishop cited Jesus’ words from the Gospel of John: “When the Spirit of truth comes he will guide you into all the truth . . . and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”

“The words of the Gospel remind us that the future is God’s, and we should trust in the Holy Spirit who leads us in a spirit of truth. We don’t need to fear the future. We don’t need to know it before its time. What we do need is to have confidence in the Lord and to give our hearts to the Father who loves us. The future is in his hands.”

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  1. The future isn’t entirely in God’s hands in the sense that we cannot change events. Determinism obviates free will and our responsibility. Pollyannaish happy smiling Christianity may mask an unwillingness to accept the reality of a Church in the throes of Apostasy. The result of the Pontiff’s exhortation Amoris Laetitia, his unwillingness to correct Nat Bishops Conferences leading the faithful astray, his unwillingness to respond to the legitimate requests of Cardinals for clarification. Referring anyone to read Evangelii Gaudium for guidance won’t do. The Bishop’s Diocesan Guidelines on Amoris Laetitia anchor Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation firmly in the context of settled Church teaching, with respect to issues like reception of Communion by couples in irregular unions. Much to his credit. If only he would address the issue of the spreading Apostasy and its cause.

  2. An added important note on my coment. R Arroyo stated on The World Over that prev CDF Prefect Cardinal Gerhard Mueller said to the effect in an interview that the pontiff should respond to the Dubia. Arroyo added the Cardinal publicly stated “The Magisterium cannot correct Jesus Christ.” That is the most powerful statement any prelate has made regarding the Pontiff’s policy of revision of the Apostolic Tradition. It confirms his belief the Pontiff is attempting it. And that the Cardinal clearly opposes it. The Church may at last have a strong, knowledgeable, faithful voice.

  3. This is simply profoundly beautiful.

    With the Church being rocked by crisis after crisis courtesy of the current Pope, we can take refuge in these words by Chaput. If we want to counter how the Pope is deconstructing the faith, Chaput’s wise words are the blue print for this counter revolution.

  4. Fr Peter, the world and the future is entirely in God’s hands. The evil that we see He also permits.

    Everything is in His hands and the things we bemoan He has allowed for his own purposes.

    • Marc, I always appreciate and benefit from your comments. I think you and Father Peter are on the same page. I think that in respect to the very true (and wise) point you make that “the world and the future is entirely in God’s hands. The evil that we see He also permits. Everything is in His hands and the things we bemoan He has allowed for his own purposes,” Father Peter might only be remarking that that should not necessarily preclude a humble and prayerful David from taking his sling shot out into the field to challenge Goliath, should that same God move him to do so. I am no theologian or Bible scholar and certainly I am no wise, brave, and discerning (albeit youthful) David, but I think that what you stated and what Father Peter stated are perhaps of the same sacred cloth, and inseparable.

  5. There is a function of the ordained priesthood inherent to his mission on earth. It is mediator. As one who intercedes on behalf of the people in imitation of the Divine Master. Moses interceded with God who was prepared to destroy the Israelites for worshiping the Golden Calf. And make of Moses lineage a new and greater people. Moses instead adjured God the Father who withheld his wrath. Saints Catherine of Siena and Birgitta of Sweden were inspired by God to initiate reform within the Church to avert disaster. Disaster came with the Protestant Reformation because the Church would not reform. I stand with Cardinals Mueller, Burke, Caffarra, Meisner, Bishop Athanasius Schneider all who speak out in one degree or another against the policies of this Pontiff. I’m convinced if the Church does not follow their lead there will be chastisement. Perhaps this is the Final Test. Whether or not we succeed is largely up to the response of the faithful. God is not by nature a wrathful God. By the divine mercy he gave us free will, strength for faith and courage to witness to His truth and perhaps avert disaster for mankind. It is insufficient to say All is in God’s hands, in the sense that we as priests have no mission to intercede, to mediate, to implore, to appeal to God for mercy, to the faithful for conversion. That is my calling as a priest before God and Man.

  6. God is indeed in complete control of things. He is never surprised at what is going on here on planet Earth. He has known all about it from all eternity. His omniscience, His omnipotence and HIs providence are perfect. God is always calm. He has a perfect plan. Our job is to find our place in it, remaining open to the fact that our place in it could include taking up a heavy cross. It is quite possible that your place in God’s plan is that “you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” (John 21:18)

    Happy, always comfortable, always smiling, avoiding-the-cross Christianity does not produce genuine Christian joy. Mysteriously and paradoxically, that only comes from taking up our cross and following Christ, often to where we do not wish to go, doing what we do not wish to do.

    Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.
    – John 16:20

    The path we take carrying our cross and following Christ is also the path to Christian joy. We can’t get there if we avoid taking that path.

  7. It is very difficult to evangelize when heterodox clergy are putting a bayonet into my backside. Too many “friendly” fire incidents. The hierarchy is often incoherent, and they often sound like ecclesial politicians and bureaucrats. Their wheeling and dealing makes the Roman soldiers casting lots for Christ’s garments look dignified.
    Fr Peter I read a posting where someone pointed out what looks to be an error in Evangelii Gaudium. The section is as follows:
    161. It would not be right to see this call to growth exclusively or primarily in terms of doctrinal formation. It has to do with “observing” all that the Lord has shown us as the way of responding to his love. Along with the virtues, this means above all the new commandment, the first and the greatest of the commandments, and the one that best identifies us as Christ’s disciples: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12).
    The first commandment is the love of God, the second commandment is love of neighbor. If you switch them you have a man-centered church. At a minimum the section looks like very sloppy wording.

    • You’re correct Greg. If we put doctrinal formation aside and focus on our perception of love for others that love is anthropocentric. It isn’t sloppy theology. Rather it’s a consistent pattern of humanistic ethics “‘observing’ all that the Lord has shown us as the way of responding to his love”. We make the evaluation of what love should be deluding ourselves that sentiment equals moral good. This is evident in much of the Pontiff’s words and writings particularly AL.

    • The command to love your neighbor is not a command to love others-in-general or to love everyone on the planet, as this Scriptuarally illiterate pope seems to think. In the Bible, the word “neighbor” means “those who are near to you”. For Jewish people in the Old Testament, that meant essentially “love your fellow Jews”. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus shows that anyone who treats you in a neighborly way can be considered a neighbor, even if he is not a member of your own ethnic group. We see the same idea at work in the passage from John 15, where “love one another” means “love your fellow disciples” — not “love everybody”. It would be nice if the leaders of our church could get this right for a change. But I’m not holding my breath.

  8. ““This isn’t a time to retreat from the world. We need to engage the world and convert it,” he added, saying “we have every reason to trust in God and find in him our hope.” The archbishop encouraged his audience to read and pray over Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium.”

    For American bishops, if they are to engage the world, that is Americans, they need to stop being civic nationalists and inculturate and assimilate, instead of creating a new fake American identity.

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