Duc in Altum, Put Out Into the Deep: New Evangelization and Christian Mission
The Lord of the harvest is calling workers for the New Evangelization of His Church. Then, he is calling all of the loyal sons and daughters of His Church into a new missionary age.
We will soon celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council in the Catholic Church. The teaching concerning missionary activity both at the Council and since has been that the Church is by nature missionary and that every baptized Christian participates in that mission. Our task, no matter what our state in life or vocation, is to be missionaries, in every nation and to every culture. That understanding lies at the heart of what it means to be a Christian - we carry forward in time the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ. All Christians need to "put out into the deep" and lower our nets for a catch.
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - The Gospel I proclaimed at Mass on Thursday of the 22d Week of "Ordinary Time" (Luke 5:1-11) reminded me of insights Blessed John Paul II shared in an apostolic letter he wrote at 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:
"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 forever" (Heb 13:8). (Pope John Paul II, "At the Beginning of the New Millennium")
The words reflected the dynamic living faith and indomitable missionary spirit which characterized the life and ministry of the late Pope. He coined the phrase "New Evangelization." Among the many writings and speeches throughout his pontificate wherein he used the phrase was his 1990 Encyclical Letter entitled "Mission of the Redeemer."
He wrote, "God is opening before the Church the horizons of a humanity more fully prepared for the sowing of the Gospel. I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples".
He lived this mission until his final passing to the Father. His living faith was displayed to the whole world, confirming the great truth of the Gospel which he both proclaimed and incarnated in a life of conformity to Jesus Christ. His blessed successor in office, Pope Benedict XVI, continues to call us to this "New Evangelization" and speaks regularly of this time in which we live as a new missionary age.
In his first homily delivered at the installation liturgy wherein he assumed the Chair of Peter, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed: "Peter's call to be a shepherd...comes after the account of a miraculous catch of fish... There too, the disciples had caught nothing the entire night; there too, Jesus had invited Simon once more to put out into the deep. And Simon, who was not yet called Peter, gave the wonderful reply: "Master, at your word I will let down the nets." And then came the conferral of his mission: "Do not be afraid. Henceforth you will be catching men" (Lk 5:1-11). Today too the Church and the successors of the Apostles are told to put out into the deep sea of history and to let down the nets, so as to win men and women over to the Gospel - to God, to Christ, to true life."
We must cultivate a missionary spirit. Western culture is deeply de-Christianized. Only the Church can carry out the needed evangelical work the West needs. She is the Body of the Risen Christ, called 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 - the seed and beginning of the kingdom of God.
The "New Evangelization" of the Church:
The Catholic Church needs conversion at every level. It will necessitate solid catechesis, instruction in the Catholic Christian faith. Many Catholic Christians do not know what their Church actually teaches. They have embraced what some have called a "cafeteria Catholicism"- choosing what parts of the faith they will follow. In some cases, a practical atheism is spreading, demonstrated by those who claim the title Christian and profess the ancient Christian Creed at Mass but fail to live it during the rest of the week.
The Church is God's plan for every culture and for the entire world. The early Fathers called her the "world reconciled". We who are Christians were reborn in Baptism as through a second womb and entrusted to the Church as mother. We now live our life in the Church. We may leave our buildings after we gather for Liturgy and Prayer but we never leave our communion with the Lord and, in Him, with one another for the sake of the ...
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