How to Read Evangelii Gaudium This Advent


My friend Kelly Wahlquist is doing a cool thing over on her blog for Advent.

As you may know, Pope Francis just released a new apostolic exhortation titled, “Evangelii Gaudium,” which is Latin for “The Joy of the Gospel.”

Most people call every written Papal communication an encyclical. But there’s a few different types of documents put out by popes.

Jimmy Akin explains:

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.

Anyway, Kelly is hosting a daily Advent reflection series on Evangelii Gaudium. She and a bunch of other guest bloggers are writing reflections every day on small parts of the document.

It hit her that this document came out at just the right time for use as an Advent meditation. Rather than skim it quickly, she decided it would be better to take this rather large exhortation in “small sips” and to share that journey with others:

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 if you’re interested in diving into this amazing new document penned by our amazing Pope Francis, but it seems like too much…check out Kelly’s daily posts and read along with her.

I think this document is brilliant and a must read for every catechetical missionary like yourselves. The pope is defining a new way of looking at sharing the faith and it’s exciting. What’s even more exciting is he’s saying some of the same stuff I am!

It’s awesome when the Magisterium back you up.

Kelly started on December 1 so she’s 4 days in, but it still just the beginning and there’s over 20 days until Christmas.

That’s a lot of reflecting! So I’ll see you there!


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  1. Hi Marc.

    I felt the same way about Pope Francis ” saying some of the same stuff I am!” It’s exciting, isn’t it?

    As you point out, there is no new doctrine here, but there is a lot that’s new about how we are to implement church teaching. Pope Francis says so himself.

    “Nevertheless, I want to emphasize that what I am trying to express here has a programmatic significance and important consequences. I hope that all communities will devote the necessary effort to advancing along the path of a pastoral and missionary conversion which cannot leave things as they presently are. ‘Mere administration’ can no longer be enough” (The Gospel of Joy, 25).”

    The new program is that we will become a truly missionary church. Reportedly, Pope Francis told the archbishop responsible for acts of charity done in the name of the Holy Father to sell his desk. He wouldn’t need it if he was out serving the poor. There are probably a lot of desks in our parishes that we could sell.

    Pope Francis said in his exhortation that everything has to change: our customs, our ways of doing things, our schedules, the kind of language we use, and our parish and diocesan structures (see The Gospel of Joy, 27).

    Reflecting on that alone could take all of Advent. And probably all of Christmas too.

    Thanks for all you do to spread the good news.


    • Yes! It’s very exciting! I think it might scare some people but I’m thrilled at what he’s getting at. We do need to change all those things. We have to become more relevant and our structures need to change to accommodate that. It kills me that catechetical leaders complain about how little faith parishioners and families have, but they just keep doing the same old things year after year that obviously are not working. Why keep doing them? And why just cater to the insiders? If you want things to change, you can’t keep doing things the way they’ve always been done. You’ve got to do something different! Finally, the Pope is speaking this way and it’s totally refreshing. Let’s get rid of the status quo and make a difference!

      Thanks for the comment Nick. You got me fired up!

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