Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 12, 2008
Archbishop calls local Catholics to a deeper faith
‘Rediscover the beauty of knowing Jesus,’ Smith urges
By GLEN ARGAN
Archbishop Richard Smith is calling on Catholics in the Edmonton Archdiocese to "rediscover together the beauty of knowing Jesus Christ and the rich treasury of faith that comes from the apostles."
In a pastoral letter for Pentecost Sunday, May 11, the archbishop announced a five-year process for the new evangelization in the archdiocese.
The process, which Smith has entitled Nothing More Beautiful, aims to inspire "everyone in this archdiocese" to embrace the call to spread the Gospel "with joy and enthusiasm."
"This renewal in the love of Christ and the faith of the Church will, by the grace of God, inspire us to new ways of sharing this good and life-giving news with the men and women of our day."
Smith said the title - Nothing More Beautiful - is drawn from Pope Benedict's homily at his 2005 inaugural Mass as pope.
At that time, the new pope said, "There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know him and to speak to others of our friendship with him."
Set of wings
In an interview, the archbishop noted that Pope Benedict has addressed "a prevailing idea that Christianity is a series of negations - 'Don't do this;' 'Don't do that.' People may think that Christianity is an oppressive set of burdens that we carry around on our shoulders.
"When we encounter the love of God in Jesus Christ and know that love in our lives, we realize the Christian life is not a burden. It is something that sets us free. As Pope Benedict said, 'It is a set of wings. It liberates.'"
The more deeply we know the Lord, the more we are drawn into the mystery of the Church, Smith said. "Precisely as Christians, we are never alone. We are always part of a communion in love."
In his pastoral letter, the archbishop said each of the next five years will be devoted to reflection on a specific topic related to the general theme:
Year One: The mystery of the human person created by God and saved in Jesus Christ.
Year Two: A new proclamation of Jesus who alone is the fulfillment of the hopes of human life.
Year Three: The Church, which is the mystery of communion in Christ.
Year Four: The Life of Grace, a life lived as a disciple of Jesus and guided by the Holy Spirit.
Year Five: The Mission of the Church, which is called to witness to the truth of God's love revealed in Christ.
Smith told the WCR he wanted to announce the process now and to provide more details in September regarding speakers who will lead the process of reflection across the archdiocese.
Many of the details of Nothing More Beautiful are still being worked out by a steering committee.
Making the announcement at Pentecost is fitting in that this feast is a good time "to call upon the Holy Spirit to inspire this event and to carry it through to conclusion," Smith said.
The announcement also coincides with the first anniversary of Smith's installation as archbishop of Edmonton last May 1.
"The central message as I look back on the year is one of gratitude to God," he said. "There are many beautiful things with which the Lord has blessed the diocese.
"There is evidence that people, to one degree or another, have been touched by the beauty of the Gospel."
The next step is to become more aware of this beauty and to be more anchored in it, he said.
Smith said he anticipates that the five years of Nothing More Beautiful will be followed by a time in which the local Church builds on its deepened faith by discerning what contributions it might make on topics such as family life, the environment, and the poor and homeless.