THE SERVANT GENERAL
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.
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.