Whether or not you like his methods, the Pope has made it abundantly clear that his intention is to evangelize. But now, in his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis is out to challenge every form of evangelization that does not find its source in joy.
One example of this is the Pope’s brief but clear direction to open the doors of the church – that physical building – in the midst of the people whether urban or otherwise.
The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open. One concrete sign of such openness is that our church doors should always be open, so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not find a closed door. –Evangelii Gaudium, # 47
Who hasn’t had this experience? I myself have encountered this scenario numerous times as people have shared with me their previous inexplicable desire to go to God’s house at the strangest of hours. Others in extreme distress have explained these moments as the time ‘the Church was not there for me.’ Assuring these individuals that the Church is open at other times also seems to do little to heal a wound that for others might seem irrational.
I understand the reasons to keep those doors closed as well. People might steal something; sleep in the church; disturb a ritual that is ‘closed’ to the public; there are so many good reasons. But if we kept those doors open and unlocked, is it possible that God might fill the Church while we are asleep? Is it possible that this simple but risky move might fill the hearts of our communities with joy in the dead of the night? I admit it is possible. But who in Canada is ready to take that risk? Let me know.