Radio Show

Breaking Down Pope Francis’ New Apostolic Exhortation


Father Dave and Team Busted Halo discuss Pope Francis’ new Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate,” (Rejoice and be glad). To begin, Father Dave explains what an exhortation is. “The way Cardinal Dolan described it is the difference between giving an academic talk and giving a homily. This one is more like the homily version, so this is exhorting us. We see that word in St. Paul’s letters where he’s encouraging, but we could be soft in our encouragement. Exhorting means, we really need to do this. That’s an exhortation.”

Father Dave discusses the title, “Rejoice and Be Glad,” and mentions that Pope Francis loves to emphasize joy. He also relates it to the beatitudes: “In the central part of this document he takes as kind of a model for our holiness, the beatitudes. And in Matthew’s version, the beatitudes conclude with, ‘Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in Heaven will be great.’” Christina points out that she likes that the pope focuses on joy because as Christians, we should be joyful, especially during this Easter season. Father Dave responds, “He does say that in so many words. He said it very strongly in Evangelii Gaudium. And in this one, he is taking that as a presumption and going even further. So he’s talking about holiness and what does that mean for our lives. Is it just something we do on a Sunday? Is it an hour we spend in front of the Blessed Sacrament? No, he says, we’re all called to be holy.”

Father Dave quotes the exhortation: “‘The important thing is that each believer discerns his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves the most personal gifts that God has placed in their hearts.’ So, it’s not a document primarily about quote-unquote ‘discernment,’ which we so often associate with should I get married or should I be a nun, but this sort of discerning. He’s putting the onus on us. It’s too easy for us to say, those people: Saint Anthony, Saint Faustina, those are the holy people. No, Pope Francis says every individual person needs to discern and listen to how God is calling you specifically to be holy. And not just in those big categories of vocation like parent, spouse, religious or priest, but even more specifically. Down to your specific gifts.”

Father Dave also discusses Pope Francis’ focus on mission. “He breaks it down and makes it real for everybody. Again, not just missionaries. There’s a very small percentage of people, whether it’s Catholics or Christians, that pick up with their families and move to some Third World country and try to build a school and start a church. When we say ‘missionary’ that’s what we think. Pope Francis says no. He encourages all of us to see the entirety of life as mission. Life is mission. That is how we live and what we do, we are on mission. It’s not just two weeks during spring break. Pope Francis says, Like the saints that have gone before us, we’re not always clear about what our mission is, nor do we always carry it out without mistakes. But slowly, we grow in understanding and carrying out our mission: ‘The message of Jesus that God wants to speak to the world by your life.’ So again, a great emphasis that some message of Jesus will be spoken to the world because of your life. He says each saint has a mission. Each saint has a message, and we are all supposed to be those saints.”

Father Dave says, “He’s got this great definition of what it means to be a saint. It’s kind of an old classic that he’s updated slightly. He says to be a saint ‘is to allow yourself to be loved and liberated by God.’ A classic old saying is that saints are not the ones who loved the most, but the ones who let God love them the most.” Christina agrees with this, “It’s true because if you are really receptive to God’s love, it will fill you to the point where you have no other option but to give it back to other people because you are so joyful and so filled with that love that you want to give it back.”

Father Dave also points out an aspect of the document that may be controversial, “He talks about enemies of holiness, and takes very classic ancient heresies and gives them an updated modern definition. Whereby, he’s kind of applying them not just to people outside the Church, but those who are among us … For the last five years since Pope Francis has been around, there’s been a cry from several voices in the Church saying that it breeds confusion to the faithful if we are not crystal clear about our doctrine. … Pope Francis is saying kind of once and for all, one can legitimately interpret doctrine in a situation pastorally in someone’s life that might be interpreted differently somewhere else. We are not all going to look the same when we’re applying the very same doctrine.” (Original Air 4-09-18)

Photo credit: Pope Francis greets crowd during his general audience. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)