THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
MOVEMENTS, COMMUNITIES AND THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
God from 1981 has been preparing us for the work of the New
Evangelization. Fr Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household,
now affirms our place in the New Evangelization.
stresses lay empowerment, as we the laity today are the protagonists
in the work of evangelization. Beyond the work of the lay
ecclesial movement CFC-FFL, LCSC actually intends to mainstream
Catholic lay evangelization.
says that the essence of the proclamation does not change,
but the way of presenting it, its priorities and the departure
point of its message can and must change. We had been doing
CFC/CFC-FFL for 30 years. Now, at the crossroad from 2011,
God gave us LCSC. It is still about rapid, massive and worldwide
evangelization. But the presentation has changed--from CLS
to LCS, from 9 weeks to perhaps a day, from a well-trained
team to harnessing new graduates. Priorities have changed--from
recruitment into community to leaving LCS graduates to their
parishes, from being self-referential to denying self for
the sake of the larger Church, from fullness of formation
in community to focusing on the missing first step, the initial
proclamation of the gospel. The departure point has changed--from
“conflict” between new ecclesial movements and
parishes to integrating both, from being a servant to Christ
to being a servant to Christ and his Church, from CFC-FFL
“owning” the work to LCSC being owned by parishes.
saying that “the immense abundance of doctrine and institutions
can become a handicap if we try to present this to the person
who has lost all contact with the Church and no longer knows
who Jesus is,” Fr. Cantalamessa affirms our thrust to
focus on the missing first step, the initial proclamation
of the gospel. The richness of parish offerings then follow.
They are second steps. Lapsed Catholics need to meet Christ
before they can live Christ. We must “help people establish
a relationship with Jesus.”
says that “Jesus sends all his disciples.” Indeed,
LCSC maintains that those who meet Christ and start to Live
Christ must share Christ. Everyone is to be an evangelizer.
The massive work of LCSC gives opportunities to everyone to
in fact become such. The work is “personally addressed
to each lay Catholic.” Yes, LCSC intends to mainstream
Catholic lay evangelization.
says, “For members of the clergy, it is often easier
to be pastors and not fishermen.” That is but natural.
While they should be fishermen as well, they are entrusted
with the care of the flock. They are pastors. And they are
very busy. Many parish programs necessitate their participation
(such as ME, PREX, etc), further burdening them. LCSC on the
other hand is a lay movement. While the priest can certainly
participate (it is after all his parish’s work), he
does not have to be directly involved in implementing LCSC
programs, if he does not have the time, energy or inclination.
says the lost sheep are the 99 and not just the one. But “we
spend all our time nourishing the remaining one and have no
time (due in part to the lack of clergy) to go out and search
for the lost ones.” The Church preaches to the choir.
LCSC on the other hand focuses on the 99. It targets lapsed
Catholics, while not neglecting those who are active in the
then speaks of the achievement of covenant communities and
the ecclesial movements, and the importance of the family.
The Holy Spirit raised CFC to do the work of evangelization
founded on family renewal. He gave us the spirituality of
Pentecost, essential to the work of worldwide evangelization.
He strengthened us as we lived out our covenant commitments
in the context of community life and mission. He formed our
bases for evangelization, which are our families and homes.
has now taken a further step in entering deeper into the heart
of the Church and in serving Christ and the Church, by bringing
our 30 years of experience and formation and offering these
at the service of our Church. This we do through LCSC. This
is our response to the New Evangelization.
Cantalamessa Explains Movements, Communities and the New Evangelization
4 Waves of Evangelization Mark History of the Church
May 12, 2014 ( Zenit.org) - The preacher of the Pontifical
Household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, was a keynote
speaker at a conference this month in Norfolk, Virginia.
conference was titled "Awakening the Domestic Church,"
and Father Cantalamessa gave three addresses there.
published the first two here and here.
one is called "How Covenant Communities and Ecclesial
Movements Fit Into the Plan of a New Evangelization."
can identify in the history of the Church four times in which
one can see an increase or a renewal of missionary activity,
the first three centuries of Christian history, in particular,
the second half of the third century when large parts of the
Roman Empire were converted. Protagonists: the bishops;
the fourth to the ninth centuries, in which we witness the
re-evangelization of Europe after the barbarian invasions.
Protagonists: the monks;
the sixteenth century, with the discovery of the inhabitants
of the New World and their conversion to Christianity. Protagonists:
the current era, which sees the Church engaged in re-evangelizing
the secularized West. Protagonists: the laity.
changes and distinguishes the various waves of evangelization
mentioned is not the object of the announcement“the
faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints,”
as the Letter of Jude (v. 3) calls it, but its respective
recipients: the Greco-Roman world, the barbarian world, and
the New World, namely, the American continent.
we ask ourselves: who comprises this new group that allows
us to speak of a fourth wave of new evangelization taking
place today? The answer is the secularized, and in some ways,
post-Christian, Western world.
This specification, which already emerged in the documents
of Blessed John Paul II, became explicit in the teaching of
Benedict XVI. In his motu proprio entitled “Ubicumque
et semper,” in which he established the Pontifical Council
for Promoting the New Evangelization, he speaks of many countries
of “Churches of ancient Christian origin ... [that]
seem particularly resistant to many aspects of the Christian
to the appearance of a new world to evangelize, we have also
witnessed a new class of evangelizers emerging each time:
bishops during the first three centuries (especially in the
third), monks during the second wave, and friars in the third.
Even today we are witnessing
the emergence of a new category of protagonists of evangelization:
the laity. This obviously does not mean replacing
one category with another, but rather adding a new component
of the people of God to the other, while the bishops, headed
by the Pope, always remain the authoritative guides and ultimate
responsible of the missionary task of the Church.
the wake of a great ship
said that throughout the centuries the recipients of the message
have changed but not the message itself. I must clarify this
statement. It is true that the
essence of the proclamation cannot change; however, the way
of presenting it, its priorities, and the departure point
of the message itself can and must change.
us summarize the unfolding of the Gospel message up to our
present era. First came the announcement made by Jesus, which
has as its central theme the news that “the kingdom
of God has come near.” This unique and unrepeatable
stage, which we call the “time of Jesus,” was
followed after Easter by the “time of the Church.”
In this second stage, Jesus was no longer the announcer, but
the one announced; the word “Gospel” no longer
meant (except in the four Gospels) “the Good News brought
by Jesus,” but the Good News about Jesus. It had as
its object Jesus himself, and in particular, his death and
resurrection. This is what Saint Paul always meant by the
is important, however, to be careful not to excessively separate
the two “times” from the two announcementsthat
of Jesus and that of the Church, or (as some have been saying)
the “historical Jesus” from the “Christ
of faith.” Jesus is not only the object of the Church’s
proclamation, that which is announced. Woe to us if we reduce
him to only this! That would mean to “objectify”
him and deny the resurrection. In the Church’s proclamation,
it is the risen Christ who, with his Spirit, still speaks
today. He is also the subject who announces. As a text of
the Second Vatican Council says, “[Christ] is present
in his word, since it is he himself who speaks when the holy
scriptures are read in the Church.”
with the original announcement, we can summarize the successive
unfolding of the preaching of the Church with an image suggested
by Péguy. Consider the wake of a great ship: it begins
in a point, which is the bow of the ship. But it continues
to broaden more and more, until it is lost in the horizon
and touches the two opposite shores of the sea. This is what
came about through the Church’s proclamation: it began
with a pointthe kerygmaChrist “was handed
over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification”
(see Rom 4:25; 1 Cor 15:3); and, expressed in an even more
emphatic and concise manner, “Jesus is Lord” (see
Acts 2:36; Rom 10:9).
initial expansion of this point occurred with the appearance
of the four Gospels (written to explain that initial core),
and then with the rest of the New Testament. Then came the
Tradition of the Church with its magisterial teaching, liturgy,
theology, institutions, laws, and spirituality. The end result
is an immense patrimony, which suggests precisely the wake
of a ship at its maximum expansion.
this point, if we want to re-evangelize the post-Christian
world, we must make a choice. Where should we beginat
any point along the wake, or from its beginning? The
immense abundance of doctrine and institutions can become
a handicap if we try to present this to the person who has
lost all contact with the Church and no longer knows who Jesus
is. It would be like vesting a child all at
once with one of those old, huge, heavy brocaded liturgical
copes. It would crush him.
we must help these people establish a relationship with Jesus.
We need to do with them what Peter did on the day of Pentecost
with the three thousand people present: speak to them about
this crucified Jesus whom God raised up. We should take them
to the point at which they, too, cut to the heart, shall ask,
“Brothers, what should we do?” Then, we shall
respond with the words of Peter, “Repent, and be baptized”
(Acts 2:37ff), if you are not yet baptized, or confess, if
you already have been.
and when to do this will depend on our creative ability. And
it can vary, as happened in the New Testament: from Peter’s
discourse to the large crowd
on the day of Pentecost, or
person to person, like Philip to the Ethiopian
eunuch of Queen Candace (see Acts 8:27). Those who shall respond
to the announcement will unite, as they did then, around the
community of believers. They will listen to the teaching of
the apostles and partake in the breaking of bread. Depending
on the call and response of each person, little by little
they will make their own that entire immense heritage born
of the kerygma. People will not accept Jesus based on the
word of the Church, but they will accept the Church based
on the word of Jesus.
have an ally in this effort: the failure of all attempts by
the secular world to replace the Christian kerygma with other
“screams” and “manifestos.” I often
use the example of the famous painting by the Norwegian artist
Edvard Munch, called The Scream. A man stands on a bridge
with a reddish background. His hands are wrapped around his
wide open mouth, from which he emits a cry. We immediately
understand that it is an empty cry full of anguish, without
words, only sound. This image seems to me the most effective
way to describe the situation of modern humanity. Having cast
aside the cry full of substancethe kerygmahumanity
now finds itself having to scream its existential angst in
I would like to try to explain why it is possible to begin
anew in Christianity at any moment from the point of the ship,
without deceiving ourselves or simply digging up the past.
The reason is straightforward: the ship still sails the sea
and its wake still begins with one point!
philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said some truly wonderful
things about the faith and about Jesus, yet on one topic I
do not agree with him. One of his favorite themes is that
of the contemporaneity of Christ. But he understands such
contemporaneity to mean that we should be contemporaries of
Christ. “He who believes in Christ,” he writes,
“is obligated to be contemporaneous with him in his
humbling of himself.” The idea is that in order to really
believe with the same faith required of the apostles, we must
disregard two thousand years of history and testimony about
Christ and put ourselves in the shoes of those to whom Jesus
spoke, when he said, for example, “Come to me, all you
that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will
give you rest” (Mt 11:28). What would we think of a
man who says this, while knowing that he does not have a stone
on which to lay his head?
I think that the true contemporaneity of Christ is something
else. It is he who makes himself our contemporary, because,
having risen, he lives in the Spirit and in the Church. If
we were to make ourselves contemporaries of Christ, it would
be merely an intentional contemporaneity; if it is Christ
who makes himself our contemporary, it is a real contemporaneity.
According to a bold idea of Orthodox spirituality, “anamnesis,
that is, liturgical memorial, is a joyous remembrance that
makes the past more present than when it was lived.”
This is not an exaggeration. In the liturgical celebration
of the Mass, the event of the death and resurrection of Christ
becomes more real for me than it was to those who were actually
physically present at the event: at that time, there was a
presence “according to the flesh,” while now,
after the resurrection and Pentecost, the presence is “according
to the Spirit.”
same thing happens when one proclaims with faith, “[The
Lord] was handed over to death for our trespasses and was
raised for our justification” (Rom 4:25). A fourth-century
author writes: “For every man, the beginning of life
is that moment when Christ was sacrificed for him. But Christ
is sacrificed for him at the moment when he recognizes the
grace and becomes conscious of the life procured for him by
realize that these things are difficult and perhaps not even
possible to say to people, let alone to those in our secularized
world. But we who evangelize must be very clear about this
in order to draw courage from and believe in the words of
John the Evangelist who says, “for the one who is in
you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1
laity, new protagonists of evangelization
said at the beginning of the chapter that, lay people
are the new protagonists in the present phase of evangelization.
Their role in evangelization has been acknowledged by the
Council in Apostolicam Actuositatem, by Pope Paul VI in Evangelii
Nuntiandi, and by John Paul II in Christifideles Laici: respectively
the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (November 18, 1965),
On Evangelization in the Modern World (December 8, 1975),
and The Lay Members of Christ’s Faithful People (December
basis of this universal call to mission is already present
in the Gospel. After commissioning the first apostles, we
read in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus “appointed seventy
others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town
and place where he himself intended to go” (Lk 10:1).
Those seventy-two disciples were probably all he had gathered
by that point, or at least all those who were willing to make
a serious commitment to him. Jesus,
therefore, sends all his disciples.
once met a layman in the United States who, besides being
a father of a family and having a profession, also strove
intensely to evangelize. He had a great sense of humor, and
he often spoke to audiences in such a way that they would
roar in laughter (so typical of Americans). Whenever he would
go to a new place, he would start out by saying (quite seriously),
“Twenty-five hundred bishops gathered at the Vatican
and they asked me to come and preach the Gospel to you.”
The people would naturally become curious. He would then explain
that the twenty-five hundred bishops were those who had taken
part in the Second Vatican Council and had written the Decree
on the Apostolate of the Laity (Apostolicam Actuositatem),
which urges every Christian layperson to participate in the
evangelizing mission of the Church. He was perfectly correct
in saying, “They asked me ...” Those words of
the Council were not spoken as if to the windto everyone
and no onebut they were personally
addressed to each lay Catholic.
we know that nuclear energy is released from the “fission”
of an atom. An atom of uranium is bombarded and “broken”
in two by the collision of a particle called the neutron.
This process releases energy and starts a chain reaction.
The two new elements are fissile, that is, in turn they split
into two other atoms. These, then, split into four and so
on until there are billions of atoms, “liberating”
an immense amount of energy. This energy is not necessarily
destructive because nuclear energy also can be used for peaceful
purposes to benefit humanity.
can use this analogy on a spiritual level to say that the
laity are a kind of nuclear energy within the Church. A layperson
who is inflamed by the Gospel, by living near others, can
“spread” to two more, who then spread to another
four. And since lay Christians number not just in the tens
of thousands (like the clergy) but in the hundreds of millions,
they can truly play a decisive role in spreading the light
of the Gospel throughout the world. What makes the evangelization
of the laity even more praiseworthy is that it is often done
freely, by spending money out of their own pockets.
apostolate of the laity was discussed even before the Second
Vatican Council. The element that the Council introduced regarding
this matter, however, was the title used to describe how the
laity contribute to the apostolate of the hierarchy. Laypersons
are not merely “collaborators” called upon to
give of their time, professional abilities, and resources;
they are bearers of their own charisms by which, Lumen Gentium
says, “[The Holy Spirit] makes them fit and ready to
undertake the various tasks and offices that contribute toward
the renewal and building up of the Church.”
wanted his apostles to be shepherds of the flock and fishers
of men. For members of the clergy,
it is often easier to be pastors and not fishermen,
that is, to nourish with the Word and sacraments those who
already come to church, rather than go out in search of those
who are far away and live in the most diverse environments.
The parable of the lost sheep
is reversed today: ninety-nine sheep have strayed and only
one remains in the sheepfold (see Mt 18:12). The danger is
that we spend all our time nourishing the remaining one and
have no time (due in part to the lack of clergy) to go out
and search for the lost ones. To this end,
the contribution of the laity seems providential.
most advanced achievement in this regard is represented by
the covenant communities and the ecclesial movements. Their
specific contribution to evangelization is to provide adults
with the opportunity to rediscover their baptism and become
active and committed members of the Church.
Many conversions today, both of nonbelievers and of nominal
Christians returning to the practice of their faith, are made
in the context of these movements.
XVI stressed the importance
of the family in view of evangelization, speaking
of a “leading role” of Christian families in this
matter. “And just as the eclipse of God and the crisis
of the family are linked,” he said, “so the
new evangelization is inseparable from the Christian family.”
Saint Gregory the Great, while commenting on the aforementioned
passage of the seventy-two disciples, wrote that Jesus sent
them out two by two “because when there are less than
two people, there can be no love,” and love is that
by which Jesus’ followers are recognized as his disciples.
This applies to everyone, but especially to two parents. If
they can no longer do anything to help their children in the
faith, they would do much if their children, in observing
them, could say to one another: “Look how much Mom and
Dad love each other.” Scripture says, “Love is
from God” (1 Jn 4:7), and this explains why wherever
there is a little true love, God is always proclaimed there.
first evangelization begins within the walls of the home.
To one young man who asked what he must do to be saved, Jesus
responded, “go, sell what you own, and give the money
to the poor. . .; then come, follow me” (Mk 10:21).
But to another young man who wanted to leave everything in
order to follow him, Jesus did not permit him, but told him
instead, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how
much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown
you” (Mk 5:19).
is a famous African American spiritual entitled, “There
Is a Balm in Gilead.” Some of its words can encourage
the laity (and not only them) in the task of evangelizingperson
to person, door to door. The hymn says: “If you cannot
sing like angels, if you cannot preach like Paul, go home
and tell your neighbor, he died to save us all.”