FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
ELEMENTS OF THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI call the Catholic Church to promote the New Evangelization. Though there is much greater urgency for this in Europe, where faith has practically died, it is also important, as we face the challenges of this third millennium, to look at how the call has relevance for the Church in the whole world.
There is no one simple way of defining the New Evangelization. Right off, the Church says that it is something that is urgent, prophetic and revolutionary. It calls on re-focusing and re-directing the Church’s priorities, to committing all of the Church’s energies. It would involve new ardor, methods and expressions.
The New Evangelization has to do with the realization that we are in the end times. There has to be a concerted effort to prepare the bride of Christ for his imminent coming.
Evangelization of course is as old as two millennia, since Jesus called his disciples and sent them off to proclaim the good news of salvation in him to the whole world. That call has always been the call of God for His Church. Our Catholic Church is a missionary Church.
But the world has changed rapidly. We need to adapt to the times. Further, we look to current world technologies by which the gospel may be propagated more widely and effectively.
Further, we see that the missionary dimension of the Church is not being lived out in the lives of a great majority of Catholics, clerics included. Thus, we can look at the New Evangelization as the old unchanging message but coupled with an attempt to do what should be done but is not being done.
So we look at the appropriate focus for the New Evangelization.
First, New Evangelization is centered on Christ. It is about meeting, living and sharing Christ. Many Catholics have not truly met Christ, are not living their lives in Christ, and are not evangelizing or sharing the faith with others.
Second, New Evangelization is about strengthening the Church of which we are a part. It involves not just continuing formation for those already active in the Church, but more importantly, a focus on bringing in the many lapsed and nominal Catholics who are outside the Church.
It necessitates harnessing the laity, the sleeping giant of the Church. As it is, most of the laity have nothing to do with the life and mission of the Church. It necessitates fostering intense collaboration of clergy and laity in a single-minded focus on re-evangelization.
An evangelistic lifestyle and a missionary spirit have to become a part of normal life as a Catholic. New Evangelization is mainstreaming Catholic lay evangelization.
Third, New Evangelization is about empowerment by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the under-appreciated third Person of the Trinity, whose role is precisely crucial for these times. For living Christ (holiness) and sharing Christ (evangelization and mission), we need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to be witnesses and to do a worldwide work of evangelization (Acts 1:8). It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to love (Rom 5:5) and to resist the flesh (Gal 5:16). It is the Holy Spirit who guides, directs and strengthens us for mission.
Fourth, New Evangelization needs to be founded on family renewal. The family is the basic unit of the Church as well as of society. The family is the prime target of the enemy, knowing that the weakening or destruction of families undermines the life of faith of Christians. Then renewed families need pastoral care and support, which is found in vibrant communities and parishes, which become a family of families.
Fifth, New Evangelization is about transforming the world. Christians are to be light and leaven. We are in the world but not of it. We animate our environments–social, political, economic, environmental. Every Catholic needs to do his share, no matter how small it is. Every Catholic needs to be pro-God, pro-life, pro-family, pro-poor.
Sixth, New Evangelization has a particular focus on Mary, who is the Star of the New Evangelization. She is Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix (these are currently contentious issues, but it is just to emphasize her importance in the work of evangelization and family renewal). She is right there in the midst of the spiritual war that we engage in when we evangelize.
Seventh, New Evangelization involves exploring new models of being Church. The new ecclesial movements are the Spirit’s work for this third millennium. One challenge is how to integrate the charismatic movements with the institutional dimension of the Church. Another is how to integrate the life and mission of the domestic church, the local church, the particular Church and the universal Church (the family, the parish, the diocese and the worldwide Catholic Church).
As the holy Roman Catholic Church is the only “institution” standing in the way of the enemy, whose dominion is over the whole world, we look to greater unity of heart and purpose in pursuing her work.
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