Monday, September 10, 2012

Updating Ourselves: The New Evangelization (part 2)

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

Pope Benedict XVI, following the footsteps of his blessed predecessor, has declared the year from October 11, 2012, “the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council,” up to “the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on the 24th of November 2013,.. the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” as the YEAR OF FAITH, with the theme: The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.

The theme of the New Evangelization was again in Pope Benedict XVI’s Message for the 2012 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, in his Address to the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family and his Address to the Participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting The New Evangelization.

It is important for us to take to heart the words of the Holy Fathers, Blessed Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI, especially in light of the situation of the U.S. Catholic Church.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, faithful to the Holy Father, through its website, says: “The Church in the United States can be likened to the mustard seed. The Church has been present in the Americas since the first missionaries arrived in the 15th Century. Over the past five centuries, the Church's foundation has sprung up and taken root in the U.S., spreading her branches and offering shade to the weary. This can be seen simply by looking at the work of Catholic Charities on behalf of the poor, the network of Catholic schools offering education to millions, and the commitment of U.S. Catholics to the Church's social justice teachings. However, there is still work to do.

The 2008 Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) study "Sacraments Today: Belief and Practice Among U.S. Catholics. . . ," provides a glimpse into the beliefs, practices and attitudes of U.S. Catholics. According to the study, only 23% of U.S. Catholics regularly attend Mass once a week, while 77% self-identify as proud to be Catholic. These statistics point to the need for the New Evangelization.

The seed of the Church is present, but the message of Jesus Christ needs to be re-sown and watered for those who have already heard Christ's call, but who have not been fully evangelized or catechized. Truly, the seed of Christ's message has taken root and yielded much fruit in past seasons.”

Thus: “The focus of the New Evangelization calls all Catholics to be evangelized and then go forth to evangelize. In a special way, the New Evangelization is focused on 're-proposing' the Gospel to those who have experienced a crisis of faith. (It) invites each Catholic to renew their relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church.”

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