As I write, I’m at the Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando, Florida. Enjoyed a chocolate malt Friday night just after getting in.
Christian joy is the theme of the convocation of 3000 leaders from across the country – the joy of the Gospel! Passing along some golden nuggets from speakers today.
Fr. Frank DeSiano said the truths of the faith lead nowhere without a personal encounter with Jesus. That all believers need to share our own relationship with Jesus and the healing and liberation knowing Him has brought us. He said that conversion is an ongoing process that we are all experiencing every day. None of us will reach complete conversion in this world, but we can share our joy and love for God to help seekers move closer to Him. He said that Christian joy is deep inside; joy enables us to “adhere” to Christ even when we feel bad.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan hit it out of the park with his homily on Christian joy. He quoted the late journalist Malcolm Muggeridge, who became a Christian after spending time with now Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Muggeridge asked Mother Teresa how if they spent their days picking up people from the gutter who were covered in maggots, their own filth, dirt, and blood, she and her sisters could be so joyful. The saint answered that the secret to joy is in its letters: J-O-Y. Jesus, Others, Yourself. She said if we keep our priorities in that order, we will be joyful.
Invitees were asked to read The Joy of the Gospel in preparation for the Convocation. In that wonderful document, Pope Francis writes about meeting people where they are and “accompanying” them to the healing that only the experience of God’s love can provide. “Accompanying” means listening with patience and – get this – acknowledging our own need to be healed and transformed by those we are helping. He says that we will be successful in leading others to Jesus only if we train the eyes of our heart to see the infinite dignity conferred on everyone because of the infinite nature of God’s love for each one. That is good news worth sharing!