Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Updating Ourselves: The New Evangelization

By Father Benjamin Alforque, M.S.C.
Parochial Vicar, St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside

In the Catholic Church today, there is a call to a New Evangelization. Blessed Pope John Paul II, on several occasions, did call for a new evangelization. This stemmed from his discernment on the situation of the world today and the new mission of the Church today in this new situation. The new situation of course refers to the passing of the 2nd millennium and the advent of the 3rd millennium. The encyclical letters that he wrote would be instructive for us, to understand his message more profoundly. I refer to the following documents: Redemptoris Missio, Sollicitudo Rei Sociali, and Novo Millenio Ineunte.

In the document on the mission of the Redeemer, the Blessed Holy Father proposed a definition of mission as having three trajectories, namely:
  1. to proclaim the good news to those who have not heard it yet; 
  2. to nourish the faith of those who have heard the good news and have accepted it, and 
  3. to proclaim the good news to those who had accepted it but have left it. 

In the document Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, he presented an analysis of the world situation and of the modern human condition, from the perspective of faith. And in the document on the beginning of the third millennium, the Holy Father defined the tasks that lay ahead, building on the synthesis of faith and human experience of the second millennium. It is in this last document that he also spoke loudly on the need for the NEW EVANGELIZATION.

After outlining the need for the people of the third millennium to learn to grow in Holiness and Prayer, he then says: (Novo Millenio Ineunte, 39) “ There is no doubt that this primacy of holiness and prayer is inconceivable without a renewed listening to the word of God. Ever since the Second Vatican Council underlined the pre-eminent role of the word of God in the life of the Church, great progress has certainly been made in devout listening to Sacred Scripture and attentive study of it. ..

(40.) To nourish ourselves with the word in order to be "servants of the word" in the work of evangelization: this is surely a priority for the Church at the dawn of the new millennium. Even in countries evangelized many centuries ago, the reality of a "Christian society" which, amid all the frailties which have always marked human life, measured itself explicitly on Gospel values, is now gone. Today we must courageously face a situation which is becoming increasingly diversified and demanding, in the context of "globalization" and of the consequent new and uncertain mingling of peoples and cultures. Over the years, I have often repeated the summons to the new evangelization. I do so again now, especially in order to insist that we must rekindle in ourselves the impetus of the beginnings and allow ourselves to be filled with the ardor of the apostolic preaching which followed Pentecost. We must revive in ourselves the burning conviction of Paul, who cried out: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16).”

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