Dear Friends in Christ,
In 2003 I drafted the Principles of Evangelical Catholicism to help shape our common life as a spiritual family, and I offer these principles to help us all become mature Christian disciples who are committed by the grace of conversion to a life of right belief, right worship, and right conduct.
Evangelical Catholicism is not a movement within the Church or a sub-set of Catholicism. Rather, being an Evangelical Catholic is simply a way of understanding the vocation of every Christian to be a faithful disciple of the Lord Jesus and of thinking about the things essential to the Church’s life as they have been explained in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the magisterium of Popes Paul VI, Saint John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis. During the nearly twenty-seven years of his pontificate, John Paul the Great summoned the Church to the urgent task he called the New Evangelization, by which he meant the proclamation of the timeless truths of the Gospel in the new circumstances of our time.
Another way of expressing our commitment to the work of the New Evangelization is to say we must become Evangelical Catholics, and this in turn means that we must let go of cafeteria, casual, and cultural Catholicism by accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a complete, coherent, comprehensive Way of Life. To live as true disciples of the Lord Jesus, we must surrender our entire lives in the obedience of faith to the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe, and this in turn means that everything about us must be measured and guided by evangelical truth – our thoughts, words, deeds, relationships, spending habits, political convictions, religious beliefs, leisure activities, lifestyle choices, business decisions, etc. And in this obedience of faith, the Christian finds not the constriction of personal liberty which the world expects but the authentic freedom of the children of God: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8.32)
In each of the next eight bulletin columns, I will explain one of the eight Principles of Evangelical Catholicism, and the complete list, together with a fuller discussion of these principles, can be found on the parish website at www.stmarysgvl.org. I realize that the shape of parish life in other places is different in many respects from what you experience at Saint Mary’s, but these differences are not the result of personal taste or arbitrary whim; rather, the choices we make to shape our common life in this parish are guided by the principles of Evangelical Catholicism. I encourage every parishioner to study these principles carefully and then shape your life and that of your family by the liberating truth of the Word of God who proclaimed: “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” (Mark 1.15)