kelly wahlquist

Catholic Evangelist & Speaker

Kelly Wahlquist is a dynamic and inspiring Catholic speaker whose gift of weaving personal stories and Scripture together with practical advice allows her audience to enter more fully into what Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have called us into - to be witnesses of our faith and part of the New Evangelization.

Filtering by Tag: Advent

THE DELIGHTFUL & COMFORTING JOY OF EVANGELIZING!

REFLECTION ON EVANGELII GAUDIUM 9-13

Daily Reading for Dec. 2: Evangelii Gaudium paragraphs 9-13

Reflection by Martha Fernandez-Sardina

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Pope Francis is calling the Church to carry out The Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World with a renewed commitment to and appreciation for the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing so that we and others may experience the joy that fills heaven and must fill earth when what is lost is found and what is dead is brought back to life. 

Is it worth the effort – and can we evangelize any other way?

Yes… and no… to use the same expository style used by Pope Francis in this Apostolic Exhortation on a love that evangelizes or an evangelizing love as I am fond of saying when speaking, writing, and training others for the new evangelization.

Yes, it is worth it! 

  • Few joys this side of heaven surpass the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing! 
  • Few things compare to the joy of making Christ and His plan of salvation known. 
  • Few things demonstrate greater love for our neighbor and for the God who wishes everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 4: 2). 

No, we should not evangelize in any other way.

  • We evangelize with joy because “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.” Both the evangelizer and the evangelized “who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ, joy is constantly born anew.” (Evangelii Gaudium, No. 1)
  • We cannot effectively evangelize if we are “Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter.” (No. 6)
  • We can experience daily the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing because we have first encountered Love Incarnate: Jesus Christ: “Thanks solely to this encounter – or renewed encounter – with God’s love, which blossoms into an enriching friendship we are liberated from our narrowness and self-absorption. We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being. Here we find the source and inspiration of all our efforts at evangelization. For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?” (No. 8; cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 24)
  • We, the evangelizer, “must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!” Rather, “Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that ‘delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow… And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the good news not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ.’” (No. 10; Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80)

We can. We must. Evangelize with joy! 

Download Martha's in-depth reflection on this section: Evangelii Gaudium Nos. 9-13

About the Author

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Martha Fernández-Sardina is an international, bilingual speaker, and consultant touching thousands through radio, TV, articles, training seminars, talks, and new evangelization outreach projects, including Remember You Are Loved™, N.E.T.S.-New Evangelization Training School™, Prepare The Way™, the Hispanic Festival of Faith and the Month of Hispanic Evangelization. Her programs educate, enthuse, and equip Catholics for a new evangelization. Find, friend, and follow Martha and her Mission of Love at RememberYouAreLoved.com, Facebook.com/MFernandezSardina, Twitter.com/iEvangelize, iEvangelize.wordpress.com, and Vimeo.com/MarthaFernandezSardina. For a speaking engagement or a consultation, email her at iEvangelize1@gmail.com.

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A JOY EVER NEW, A JOY WHICH IS SHARED

Reflection on Evangelii Gaudium 2-8

Daily Reading for Dec. 1: Evangelii Gaudium paragraphs 2-8

Reflection by Kelly Wahlquist

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A RENEWED PERSONAL ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS

How ironic that as the world begins its preparation for Christmas on a day named after darkness and the void of light, Black Friday, the Holy Father invites all Christians, everywhere, to begin their preparation for Christmas with a renewed encounter with the Light of the World, Jesus Christ!

We are invited to prepare for a greater joy than any Black Friday sale can provide. We are invited to a joy ever new, and that joy is found in a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. And that invitation is for ALL. No one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord!

That’s an exhilarating idea, to think that no matter what, I am invited to a renewed personal relationship with Jesus Christ... but then a thought enters my mind: “How do I really do that? How can I have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ?”

Pope Francis gives us beautiful ways to do that in these first 8 paragraphs of Evangelii Gaudium. Simply put we are to: Ask, Seek, Rejoice and Persevere in Faith.

We are to ask and be open at all times to an encounter with the one who loves us perfectly. We are to seek Him knowing that “whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.” We are to rejoice in His Divine Mercy, “radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross” and we are to persevere in our faith, trusting in God’s love, surrendering completely to the love of the Father such that we allow Him "to attain the fullest truth of our being" and we find true joy.

Here are some simple ways to follow Pope Francis' words of wisdom to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ:

Ask 

Begin each day this Advent with the simple prayer: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”.

I have a copy of the prayer on the cupboard that holds my coffee cup, it guarantees each day begins with asking for a renewed personal encounter with Jesus. Perhaps write the prayer on a card and keep it next to your bed to say morning and night, or tape it to your bathroom mirror.

Seek

Seek time with to be with Jesus. A renewed relationship requires spending time together. 

Make time to go to Adoration each week during Advent. If an adoration hour is already part of your routine, take one of the Scriptures referenced in the daily readings of Evangelii Gaudium and meditate on it. 

Begin Advent with the Sacrament of Confession. “God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy” (Evangelii Gaudium 3).

Rejoice

Find joy in God’s presence in your life: “Do not deprive yourself of the day’s enjoyment.” 

Find ways throughout the Advent Season to enter into the “great stream of joy.” Perhaps keep your favorite praise & worship CD in your car and when days get trying, blast the music and sing for joy at the top of your lungs. 

Persevere in Faith

Grow in your faith by simplifying your life and detaching from “things” that consume you.

Let go of meaningless time spent on social media or watching t.v. this Advent and spend that time getting to know Jesus Christ. Making time each day to read and reflect on Evangelii Gaudium is a great start.

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WHAT IS AN APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION ANYWAY?

Tomorrow we begin our daily reading of Pope Francis' first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. Now, while apostolic exhortations have been around for hundreds of years and although Pope Francis seems to speak... well... frankly, words such as "apostolic exhortation" aren't very mainstream words. In fact, most of us are left scratching our heads saying, "Apostolic Exhort-what-tion?" So, let's begin our journey through this document knowing what it is and why is is important to every Christian.

Catholic speaker and presenter, Thomas Smith, explains what an apostolic exhortation is and how it is pertinent for our lives today as he helps us prepare our hearts this Advent in this wonderful to-the-point 4 minute video.

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LET THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL FILL YOUR HEART

"THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come" (Evangelii Gaudium, 1).

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I am excited to have you join us —yes, us; for I have a few friends joining me in the journey through the "Joy of the Gospel" this Advent and I am thrilled that they will be contributing to our daily reading, reflection and response to the words of Pope Francis' first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. Some of the contributors to our daily reflections are Catholic writers or speakers, some are catechist or leaders of apostolates, some are moms or homemakers, some are religious, some are laity, some are podcasters, some authors and some are bloggers, but ALL of them are passionate about bringing the JOY of the Gospel to the hearts of many.

So let's cut to the chase and get to the why and what we are doing. My life is busy and I'll be honest, sometimes that means my prayer life and quest for knowledge get pushed to the backseat with many a forgotten french fry and art project; but that said, I really yearn to know and understand my faith, because I know that understanding and wisdom will lead me deeper into my relationship with the Lord, and I need a deeper relationship with the Lord! 

With that in mind, I decided (as I do every year) that this Advent, I really want to prepare my heart for Christ to enter ever deeper. This Advent is going to be different. This Advent I am going to stick to my plan... but this Advent there seems to be more to it than just my own personal preparation.

Upon reflecting on Advent and the coming of the Lord, it hit me that Advent is not just about preparing my heart to be a dwelling place for Christ, it's also about going in haste to bring Jesus to others, like Mary did when she was told she was to be the one that would prepare Jesus to enter the world as a baby and become man. 

Advent isn't just about my relationship with Jesus, it's about relationships in the grand sense of the word. It's about my relationship with others and my willingness to introduce them to a relationship with Jesus. It is what Mary did when she heard the first good news proclaimed by the angel. She went in haste to meet Elizabeth where Elizabeth was on her journey and she literally brought Jesus to Elizabeth. And what was the result? Upon hearing Mary's voice and knowing Jesus, "My Lord", was near, John leapt in the womb of his mother. Now get this! What does Mary do? She is so overcome with joy that she breaks out into song, and her heart magnifies the Lord! 

This Advent I want to do that. I want to walk in Mary's footsteps and prepare my heart to receive Christ. I want to meditate on the Word of God. I want to go in haste to bring Jesus to others, and I want to be overcome with the Joy of the Gospel! I want to “Shout aloud and sing for joy!” (Though I guarantee you do not want me to break out in song!) But, here's the catch... every Advent I start out with the goal of setting time aside each day to prepare for Jesus and somehow, at sometime along the journey, I get distracted. So, how am I going to stay focused this year? Simple, I'm doing two little things. First, I'm going to set time aside for prayer each day. I've already posted the prayer from Evangelii Gaudium (see below) on the cupboard that holds my coffee cup, so it's a gimme that I will begin each day with that prayer. Second, I'm going to grow in my understanding of the faith this Advent by reading and reflecting on the words of the Holy Father in his first apostolic exhortation, the Joy of the Gospel.

Ok, I admit, reading an apostolic exhortation sounds intimidating to many. Reading 224 pages of Church talk sounds intimidating to many. Reading 288 paragraphs of papal writing sounds intimidating to many, and reading 48,000 words sounds intimidating to all! BUT, when presented in small doses with some food for thought and a little strong coffee, the apostolic exhortation mountain top appears more accessible. So, that's what we are going to do here for the next 25 days. We are going to take little bites of Evangelii Gaudium and I invite you to join us! 

Each day will have a reflection, challenge or perhaps practical ideas for how to live the aspect of the Gospel that day's words speak to. We will for sure post the 288 paragraphs such that by Christmas we (and hopefully other busy people) will have read and meditated on some 48,000 words, but in small sips. 

So join us for our daily reading and go in haste to invite your friends to do so also. Who knows, perhaps this daily digesting will help us bring about a “revolution of tenderness” by opening our hearts each day to God’s unfailing love and forgiveness.

 

Daily Prayer from Evangelii Gaudium:

“Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”.

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PREPARING YOUR HEART, ONE SIP AT A TIME

READ EVANGELII GAUDIUM THIS ADVENT WITH ME...

IN SMALL SIPS

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Prepare your heart this Advent over a cup of coffee and little "sips" of the "Joy of the Gospel" with us! Each day we are going to read & reflect on sections of Pope Francis' first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. Fear not, if you don't know what an apostolic exhortation is, fellow co-worker in the vineyard, Jimmy Akin has a great explanation over on his blog www.JimmyAkin.com.

Here’s a little taste of his post:

2) What is an apostolic exhortation?

It’s a papal document that, as the name suggests, exhorts people to implement a particular aspect of the Church’s life and teaching.

Its purpose is not to teach new doctrine, but to suggest how Church teachings and practices can be profitably applied today.

Some apostolic exhortations are devoted to the pastoral challenges faced in particular parts of the world (Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas). Others are devoted to particular themes.

Previous apostolic exhortations include:

    Paul VI’s Evangelii Nuntiandi (on evangelization today)

    John Paul II’s Christifideles Laici (on the role of the laity)

    John Paul II’s Redemptoris Custos (on St. Joseph)

    Benedict XVI’s Sacramentum Caritatis (on the Eucharist)

    Benedict XVI’s Verbum Domini (on the Word of God)

 

Here's our schedule for Advent. We'll post the paragraphs and perhaps a little reflection each day to go with your coffee:

Dec. 1     2-8 (Joy)

Dec. 2    9-13 (Joy of Evangelizing)

Dec. 3    14-18 (Scope of exhortation)

Dec. 4    19-24 (Church's missionary transformation)

Dec. 5    25-33 (Pastoral Activity & Conversion)

Dec. 6    34-39 (Heart of the Gospel) 

Dec. 7    40-45 (Human Limits)

Dec. 8    46-49 (Mary)

Dec. 9    50-58 (Amid Crisis: idolatry of money)

Dec. 10   59-75 (Cultural Challenges)

Dec. 11    76-92 (Temptations of pastoral workers & Relationship in Christ)

Dec. 12    93-109 (No to spiritual worldliness)

Dec. 13    110-126 (People of God proclaim the Gospel)

Dec. 14    127-134 (Person to Person, Charisms, Culture) 

Dec. 15    135-144 (The Homily) 

Dec. 16    145-159 (Preparing to Preach)

Dec. 17    160-175 (Kerygma)

Dec. 18    176-185 (Social dimensions of evangelization)

Dec. 19    186-216 (Inclusion of the poor in society)

Dec. 20    217-237 (Common Good and Peace in Society)

Dec. 21    238-258 (Social dialogue as contribution to peace)

Dec. 22    259-274 (Spirit-filled evangelizers)

Dec. 23    275-283 (Personal encounter with Christ) 

Dec. 24    284-288 (Mary)

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FINDING JOY IN THE GOSPEL THIS ADVENT!

READ EVANGELII GAUDIUM THIS ADVENT WITH ME...

IN SMALL SIPS

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Today the Holy Father, Pope Francis, gave us the perfect Advent gift, the perfect guide to help us on this journey as we prepare for the coming of Christ. He gave us his first Apostolic Exhortation: Evangelii Gaudium, or for us non-Latin speaking folk, The Joy of the Gospel. So, being the Catholic geek that I am, I poured my coffee into my already 1/2 full cup of Pumpkin Spice creamer and sat down to joyfully read an Apostolic Exhortation at 6:00 am! (I PROMISE, if you knew me in college this scene would shock you! All of it... the early wake up, the coffee chosen over the Diet Coke and above all, the fact that I found excitement in an Apostolic Exhortation, much less knew what it was!) 

The document turned out to be richer than my Nestle's Coffee Mate drenched coffee and I soon came to the conclusion that I could not digest it all in this one sitting. So, I thought... small sips... and I came up with the idea to read a section of Evangelii Gaudium each morning over my coffee during Advent. Then I thought, there's no way I can do this alone! I won't grasp the fullness of the message, and let's be honest, I'd probably quit by day 8 without someone to prod me on (that's what happens with my workout schedule anyway.) Thus, I'd like to invite you to join me. 

Throughout Advent I am going to post sections of Evangelii Gaudium and hopefully a reflection or some practical things I'm going to try to do to live the message of that section with renewed conviction, with confidence and with hope. Again, I invite you to join me. Pour yourself a cup of coffee (or Diet Coke or whatever wakes you up) and join me in reading this rich Apostolic Exhortation in small sips. Join me by sharing your reflections and by offering ways we can live the Joy in the Gospel. We begin this Sunday! You in?

Here's our Schedule for our small sips of Evangelii Gaudium for Advent

Dec. 1        2-8 (Joy)

Dec. 2        9-13 (Joy of Evangelizing)

Dec. 3        14-18 (Scope of exhortation)

Dec. 4        19-24 (Church's missionary transformation)

Dec. 5        25-33 (Pastoral Activity & Conversion)

Dec. 6        34-39 (Heart of the Gospel) 

Dec. 7        40-45 (Human Limits)

Dec. 8        46-49 (Mary)

Dec. 9        50-58 (Amid Crisis: idolatry of money)

Dec. 10    59-75 (Cultural Challenges)

Dec. 11    76-92 (Temptations of pastoral workers & Relationship in Christ)

Dec. 12    93-109 (No to spiritual worldliness)

Dec. 13    110-126 (People of God proclaim the Gospel)

Dec. 14    127-134 (Person to Person, Charisms, Culture) 

Dec. 15    135-144 (The Homily) 

Dec. 16    145-159 (Preparing to Preach)

Dec. 17    160-175 (Kerygma)

Dec. 18    176-185 (Social dimensions of evangelization)

Dec. 19    186-216 (Inclusion of the poor in society)

Dec. 20    217-237 (Common Good and Peace in Society)

Dec. 21    238-258 (Social dialogue as contribution to peace)

Dec. 22    259-274 (Spirit-filled evangelizers)

Dec. 23    275-283 (Personal encounter with Christ) 

Dec. 24    284-288 (Mary)

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