Put Out Into the Deep: The New Evangelization
Deacon Keith A. Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
"Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch." Jesus, St. Luke 5:4
“At the beginning of the new millennium, and at the close of the Great Jubilee during which we celebrated the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of Jesus and a new stage of the Church's journey begins, our hearts ring out with the words of Jesus when one day, after speaking to the crowds from Simon's boat, he invited the Apostle to "put out into the deep" for a catch: "Duc in altum" (Lk 5:4). Peter and his first companions trusted Christ's words, and cast the nets. "When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish" (Lk 5:6). Duc in altum! These words ring out for us today, and they invite us to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm and to look forward to the future with confidence: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever" (Heb 13:8). Pope John Paul II, “At the Beginning of the New Millennium
The Gospel text of the Divine Liturgy on this Fifth Sunday in Ordinary time (in the Western Church Calendar) reminded me of the wonderful insights concerning those words written by Pope John Paul II in the letter that he wrote at the close of the Great Jubilee year of 2000 and the beginning of the new millennium. They are a call to every Christian, no matter what their state in life, to take up the missionary mandate of the Church.
Throughout his long and faithful service to the Lord, to the Church and to the world (into which the Church is still called to carry forward in time the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ), the Vicar of Christ, Pope John Paul II, has tirelessly called for this kind of missionary spirit in what he has called a “New Evangelization.” This call has implications for both the Church - which desperately needs such a new evangelization - and the culture, which has been deeply de-christianized and is also desperately in need of this new evangelization. T
hese two aspects of this one call are intricately connected. Only the Church can carry out this evangelical mission because she is the Body of Christ on the earth. She is called by the Lord to carry on His redemptive mission and continue His presence on this earth as a universal sign and “sacrament.” She is the missionary agent and –in the words of the fathers of the second Vatican Council in the Catholic Church- the seed of the kingdom of God.
To accomplish her mission she must be “Holy”, set aside for and configured to Christ. She must therefore, in every age and time, be renewed, reformed and repositioned in order to faithfully carry on the task of “putting out into the deep” waters of the world into which she is still sent on mission.
Let’s look at both of these aspects of this call to the “New Evangelization”
The “New Evangelization” of the Church:
The Catholic Church is reeling under a season of purification, brought on (at least in part) by the sin of some of her members, including her clergy. Our Church needs conversion at every level. As members of Christ’s Body, we are called to grieve, repent and work for the healing and authentic conversion and renewal of this Church that we love. We must also be honest about the reality we face. There is serious need for clergy reform. There is a desperate need for a new evangelization and solid catechesis within the Church and among all the faithful.
Many Catholic Christians do not know what the Church actually teaches and have instead embraced what some have called a “cafeteria Catholicism”- choosing what parts of their faith they will follow. Finally, in the worst cases, a practical atheism is abounding wherein those bearing the title Christian are professing the Creed but confining its influence only to Sunday.
Yet, this Church in such need is our Church and when we acknowledge her weakness, we must do so with genuine love and affection. After all, we are sons and daughters of the Church. It was Saint Cyprian (who died in A.D. 258) who is most often quoted concerning this vital truth: "He who has turned his back on the Church of Christ shall not come to the rewards of Christ; he is an alien, a worldling, an enemy. You cannot have God for your Father if you have not the Church for your mother. Our Lord warns us when He says: `he that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth.' Whosoever breaks the peace and harmony of Christ acts against Christ; whoever gathers elsewhere than in the Church scatters the Church of Christ." (On The Unity of the Catholic Church)
As Catholic Christians we believe that the Church is God’s plan for the entire world. The early Fathers called her the “world reconciled”. Through our Baptism, we live ...
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