Joy: Catholicism's Emergency Kit

Jalane Schramm

5 Stars

October 22, 2014

So much noise has been made since the election of Pope Francis. In the first year and a half, the world has forgotten so quickly the "Rockstar" papacy of St. John Paul II for the eventful, and apparently eventful, "down-to-earth-papacy" of Francis. In following the 2,000 year old Tradition of "Evangelization through Joy," Francis puts his thoughts explicitly into words for the best field manual for all Christians going into the 21st century, one that looks to be of great unity at least across the world of Christianity.

Though I am not one to comment on the cover of a book (I'm usually too busy judging the book by it), I had to comment on the photo used. All white (classy) merging into the white cassock and zucchetto of Francis with the simple smile of the simple man (though notin intellect, don't misunderstand me) shining in the foreground. I have to imagine that he is just about to share the Gospel with a not-too-unsuspecting passerby in his unassuming, profound and joyful manner.

The content of the Apostolic Exhortation, a category of gems when it comes to Catholic spiritual literature by the way, was not anything new as this had been released a number of months ago. Much of what is included in these, with Evangelii Gaudium being no exception, is pretty straightforward and follows the title closely. What I appreciate most about the document is the explicitly Catholic element to the idea of evangelization. This may come as no surprise to some but surprising to others when one considers, okay, it is written by the Pope, of course it's Catholic. But, keep in mind, many, in and out of the Church, see evangelization as a dirty word when used in the same sentence as Catholics. What I mean by "Catholic elements" are Francis' essential emphasis on both the Eucharist and the Lectio Divina strategy of studying Scripture, which can be used by non-Catholics but was "invented" and developed within the Church.

What must also be noted about this edition and what really sets it apart is of course the foreword by Fr. Barron and afterword by Fr. Martin S.J., two of the strongest voices in the Catholic Church in America (with the third being Cardinal Dolan). Both Fathers Barron and Martin seem to really get the message of Francis and see through the many smoke screens and jibberish that is spewed in media outlets. It is from Barron's foreword that I get the title for this review, as he recognized the dire situation of the Church and what it really needs. In a way, both Barron and Martin restate the Evangelii thesis from different angles in a very effective way.

Though Apostolic Exhortations are written primarily with Bishops and Priests in mind, it translates very well to the lay audience and its principles should be disseminated to all Catholics, all Christians, in all times to come.

I received this book for my review from Blogging for Books.