CHRISTIANITY & STORYTELLING

Telling stories to your children is one of those secret joys that you might not expect when you become a parent. Snuggling up with your children before bed and cracking open a classic bedtime story, or maybe even coming up with a story off of the top of your head, is an extraordinary experience. The words you read, and the stories you tell, can evoke powerful emotions; joy, courage, hope, love, and so on! It’s precisely this power, the power of storytelling, that Pope Benedict XVI recognized as such a useful tool for evangelization.

In his Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi Pope Benedict notes how the communities of Ephesus and Thessalonica, and much of the ancient world, were without God, and “found themselves in a dark world, facing a dark future.” No hope had been given to them through their contradictory myths, their shared creation stories were vapid, their gods proved questionable, and they lived with a prior belief that their lives would end in emptiness. Ultimately, those philosophical and religious beliefs primed these communities for the coming of the Gospel story, which found a receptive home in their waiting hearts. The Apostles were able to read the signs of the times, the philosophies of the age, and see how the Gospel message precisely answered their fears and called them to hope in Jesus Christ. The Apostles were able to tell the Gospel story to those who had been waiting for the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We modern evangelizers are called to read the signs of the times, the current philosophies of our age, just as the Apostles did, and to tell that story not only to our children, but to those folks we meet and bump into every day. 

Pope Benedict proposed using the stories of the holy witnesses around us to highlight the movements of Christ in the world. To become a masterful storyteller of the lives of the saints was important to becoming a masterful evangelist! The stories of saints like Saint Josephine Bakhita, an African girl who was liberated from slavery through her encounter with Jesus Christ. Her experience was also the experience of many Christians throughout time who were beaten and condemned to slavery, or who were tempted to despair for their future. Or Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the saint who inspired multitudes of young people to enter monastic life, a contemplative life which provided young men and women the time needed to till the soil of their souls. We’re once again experiencing a time in which souls are overgrown and in the need of tilling – most especially our own! By telling these stories, the stories of those champions who have gone before us, who show us how to address the present darkness of our age, we’re providing others the opportunity to see how their own lives can be elevated by a deeper relationship with the God who loves them. 

Pope Benedict didn’t just talk about storytelling, though, he dedicated lots of time during his pontificate to telling the stories of saints throughout the ages, and he penned a trilogy of books on the greatest story of all, the life of Jesus Christ. Maybe we can take a page out of his book, and hone our own skills for storytelling, immersing ourselves in the Gospels and the lives of those who were so impacted by them, the saints.

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CULTURE

At the National Eucharistic Congress, Decided Excellence Catholic Media - with the help of Bishop William Waltersheid - will be presenting "Beautiful Revelation: The Eucharistic Timeline". Throughout human history, God has left repeated proof of His presence in the Eucharist and that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Salvation. God has given us the wisdom. Have you taken the time to understand? Read this spiritual journey through time to examine critical moments that God uses to reveal the truth of the Body of Christ.

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