This is part three, of a three part blog, on the build up to New Evangelization. In part one we discussed the the New Evangelization pilot project. In Part Two we discussed magisterium intervention and the Bishops who were using New Evangelization to further their own agenda.
In our final look at the build up to New Evangelization, we smile.
“New Evangelisation is accomplised with a smile not a frown”, that was the message Friday as the College of Cardinals gathered around Pope Benedict XVI, for a Day of Prayer and Reflection on the eve of a consistory for the creation of 22 new cardinals. The theme of the day was “The Announcement of the Gospel Today, Between ‘missio ad gentes’ and the New Evangelization”. Delivering the key-note address to the morning session, President of the US Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop of New York and Cardinal-designate, Timothy Dolan described secularism as a “towering challenge to the new evangelisation today”, a challenge that “calls for a creative strategy” to bring religion back to nations that were once a bedrock of faith.
– Vatican Radio Report
Thumbs up on Missio ad Gentes. Thumbs down on secularism. The goal is to bring religion back, and we need a creative strategy to help us achieve our goal. (Like a good coach at half-time, Cardinal Dolan was giving us an inspiring pep talk). We are getting the band back together and it is going to be so awesome you will be sorry if you are not there with us. Everybody put a hand in. On three, ready… one… two… three. Gooooo team! Let them see your smile.
I was only half joking when I wrote the last paragraph. These are the predominant themes that permiate New Evangelization. I believe we need to begin with explaining Missio ad Gentes.
WHAT DOES missio ad gentes mean? In other words, what is our mission as Church among any people, of any culture, at any period of history? None has so far outdone the answer of classic theology that sums up that mission in just three Greek words: kerygma, diakonia and koinonia. Kerygma means to share – out of faith – the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ ‘in season or out of season’ (2 Tim 4:2). Diakonia means to help – out of love – all who suffer, preferentially the poorest marginalized by society. Koinonia means to gather – out of hope – in ways that our fellowship as believers preview and foretaste the Peace of God’s Reign. These three concepts refer to the ‘constants’ or perennial aspects of our ecclesial mission.
– Pio Estepa, SVD
All right, now we have a clearer understanding of the Missio ad Gentes. Thumbs up to sharing the Good News. Thumbs up to helping those who suffer. Thumbs up to gathering together in the peace of Christ. This I believe is easy to understand and easy to accomplish with guidance from the Holy Spirit. Still, this is not the totality of New Evangelization, it is only the foundation.
But Cardinal-designate Dolan didn’t just talk about the New Evangelisation, in five simple points he outlined what the New Evangelisation actually is:
He said the new evangelisation is about not being afraid to be people of faith; it is about a Person, Jesus Christ; it is about his Truth and bringing him to others.
New Evangelisation is about joy and so is accomplished with a smile, not a frown; it is about the missio ad gentes and saying yes to everything decent, good, true, beautiful and noble in the human person. In short, New Evangelisation is about love.
And finally he concluded the New Evangelisation is about blood. He spoke of the 22 Cardinals-designate who during the consistory Saturday will receive their Scarlett hats and robes, as a sign of willingness to shed their blood for the Christian faith. Today he said people learn more from “witness than from words,” and the supreme witness is martyrdom. “The New Evangelisation is about remembering and honouring those still suffering persecution for their faith today throughout the world”.
– Cardinal Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan
Cardinal Dolan gave us five simple points to help us understand New Evangelization:
1) Do not be afraid. (“Do not be afraid” is a plant which grows very plentifully in God’s garden.)
2) Be joyous, and smile. (You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.)
3) Missio ad Gentes (share God, Help those less fortunate, and do all of this as one body of Christ).
4) Love (Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God).
5) Blood (“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it).
Points are great, but how do we use them in our everyday lives? Not all of us are called to martyrdom, in a literal sense, and love, joy and finding strength in God are nice feelings, but they don’t translate into me doing something different in my life.
Surfers, I will tell you that during the build up to New Evangelization concrete actions are still being developed. If you would like a glimpse of how those actions will be shaped simply listen to Benedict XVI in Porta Fidei.
“Ever since the start of my ministry as Successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ. … Whereas in the past it was possible to recognise a unitary cultural matrix, broadly accepted in its appeal to the content of the faith and the values inspired by it, today this no longer seems to be the case in large swathes of society, because of a profound crisis of faith that has affected many people”… “The renewal of the Church is also achieved through the witness offered by the lives of believers: by their very existence in the world, Christians are called to radiate the word of truth that the Lord Jesus has left us… clasping sinners to her bosom, is at once holy and always in need of purification”… “Only through believing, then, does faith grow and become stronger; there is no other possibility for possessing certitude with regard to one’s life apart from self-abandonment, in a continuous crescendo, into the hands of a love that seems to grow constantly because it has its origin in God”… “A Christian may never think of belief as a private act. Faith is choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with Him. This ‘standing with Him’ points towards an understanding of the reasons for believing. Faith, precisely because it is a free act, also demands social responsibility for what one believes.
Get ready for an injection of faith. Rediscover your faith through New Evangelization. Witness your faith to the world by being more confident in your faith. Freely act with more social responsibility because of your faith. If you are not secure enough in your faith here is your chance to bolster your faith. If you do not like to talk about your Catholic faith, you will not have much fun with New Evangelization.
The last word on this topic goes to Benedict XVI.
Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
– Ephesians 4:1-2 New International Version (NIV)
– Vatican Radio Report