Express your stewardship with love of God and love for each other

This is the second in a series of three about the stewardship way of life.
By Father John Jirak, Church of the Magdalen
Expression refers to how we express ourselves. Of course, we express ourselves through words. However, as St. Ignatius of Loyola states, love expresses itself “more by deeds than words.”
Expression in the New Evangelization is communicated through both words and actions. The “new” in the expression of the New Evangelization is really a shift from legal language and action to personalistic language and action. For example, legal language and action focuses on requirements, duties, responsibilities, punishments and rewards. Personalistic language and action reflects relationships, the heart, devotion, love and personal fulfillment.
Pope Emeritus Benedict emphasized this new way of expressing our Catholic faith on numerous occasions. My favorite line of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and the new, personalistic way of speaking of the faith is from his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” (DCE, 1)
Pope Francis frequently uses personalistic language in speaking about the faith. In Evangelii Gaudium, the third paragraph of the pastoral plan for his pontificate, “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them.” (EG, 3)
The personalistic expression of the New Evangelization includes the whole pastoral approach of priests and the faithful, for example, the parish family. Pope Francis highlights this requirement in his pastoral plan for the church, “An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others. Evangelizers thus take on the “smell of the sheep” and the sheep are willing to hear their voice.” (EG, 24)
It has been exciting for me to foster this more personalistic vs. legalistic expression to evangelization, ministry and the stewardship way of life. The first avenue for fostering this personalistic expression in a practical way has been through preaching.
Preaching is my favorite priestly activity. Preaching in a more personalistic way is to speak “heart to heart” with the people. Pope Francis states “the homily is the touchstone for judging a pastor’s closeness and ability to communicate to his people.”
Another avenue for cultivating the more personalistic expression of our Catholic faith is our push to make “Perpetual Adoration Perpetual Again.” Also connected with the more personalistic expression of the faith is the sacrament of confession. Pope Francis identifies the sacrament of confession as the sacrament of the New Evangelization.