A Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization to be Formed? Bring it On!
The challenge of this "New Evangelization" is clear; we are all called to live out our baptismal vocation through lives of sacrificial service, at the heart of the Church, for the sake of the world. All of the faithful, men, and women, lay, clergy and religious, need to view themselves as missionaries. We also need to view the mission of the Church as OUR mission.
The now famous vision of Don Bosco's vision of the Church proceeding through troubled waters, led by the Vicar of Christ and guided by the twin pillars of Our Lady and the Holy Eucharist.
"According to a report from a well-connected Italian Vatican writer, Pope Benedict XVI will shortly announce the creation of a "Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization," to be presided over by Italian Archbishop Rino Fisichella. The office will be dedicated to rekindling the faith in the developed West, above all Europe and North America." Now, the Catholic News Agency (CNA) has picked up on the story adding that "Pope Benedict XVI is about to release a letter announcing the creation of a new Vatican dicastery called the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. The new department will be aimed at bringing the Gospel back to Western societies that have lost their Christian identity." The term "New Evangelization" is a favorite of Pope Benedict XVI - as it was of his predecessor, the Venerable John Paul II. The Catholic Church is in 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 a desperate need for such a new evangelization. Many Catholic Christians do not know what the Church actually teaches and have 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. Exactly what was warned of by the fathers of the Second Vatican Council and called the "greatest error of our age..the separation between faith and life." Yet, this Church in such need is Christ's Church. 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. He has not changed His mind. The early Fathers called her the "world reconciled". Through our Baptism, we live in that Church and go into the world. We are called to love the Church with the affection of sons and daughters; she is our "mother". We cannot abandon the Church to the wolves within or without. After all, the promise of the Master is still true "The gates of hell will not prevail against her" This is, after all, Christ's Church! There is no "plan B" through which He will save and re-create the world. He established one Church through which to continue His work until His return. She has undergone similar purifications and reform many times throughout her missionary journey over two thousand years. Her hull may be battered but she is still the Ark of Salvation, presided over by the Lord. He is at the helm steering His redemptive course through time. The contemporary culture into which we are sent as members of this missionary Church has clearly lost its way, throwing off almost every remnant of Christian influence. It has embraced a "new" paganism. This phenomenon isn't really all that new. It is just dressed up in the sophistry of an age that purports to be "enlightened" when it is desperately lost. The contemporary embrace of license over liberty, death over life, the use and abuse of the goods of the earth over stewardship, are all fueled by a counterfeit notion of freedom as a raw power over others and the accompanying delusion that "freedom" implies some feigned "right" to choose even what is wrong. The result of this rejection of the truth is tantamount to a practical atheism. Pope Benedict XVI nailed it when he referred to the "Dictatorship of Relativism" in his first homily. It is also not new. It is simply Eden's error written large in an age which has once again rejected God and His plan for the human race. Contemporary humankind, reeling from this rejection, like Cain, wanders aimlessly in a land of Nod, East of Eden. The United States (which consistently polls as one of the most "religious" of the Nations of the West) has little evidence of the influence of religious faith in its daily life. The principles derived from any past influence of that faith are no longer respected in its increasingly coarse culture. It was Alasdair McIntyre who once wrote "The creed of the English.is that there is no God but it is wise to pray to him from time to time." Let's be honest, this is also the "creed" of the West. "Religion" is acceptable as long as it is kept "private". Yet, of all religious expressions, Christianity can never be "kept private". It must be given away in love. The Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ is profoundly public. Christian faith may be personal but it cannot be private. It proclaims a God who loves the world that He created so much that He wrote the universal laws governing all men and women into the fabric of a Natural Law which can be known by all through reason. This God who fashioned us also made us to reflect Him through our capacity for freedom, our ability to choose. He invites us to choose what is good, right and true. Christians proclaim that there are some choices which are universally wrong. Also, that there is an objective truth for all men and women, all cultures and all times and that freedom must be exercised in reference to this truth and with regard for our neighbor (no matter how small) and his/her goods. Truth is truth for all men and women. The new pagans find such a claim offensive. However, its reassertion by a renewed Church is part of this "New Evangelization."
Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor Pope John Paul II have noted the obvious, many cultures, formerly infused with a Christian culture, are now "post-Christian" and need to be "re- evangelized." This is the mission of the "New Evangelization." When The late John Paul visited the Americas, just before the turn of the third millennium; he addressed this challenge in a letter entitled "To the Church in America" with these words: "The new Evangelization calls for a clearly conceived, serious and well organized effort to evangelize culture. The Son of God, by taking upon Himself our human nature, became incarnate within a particular people, even though His redemptive death brought redemption to all people, of every culture, race and condition. The gift of His Spirit and His love are meant for each and every people and culture, in order to bring them all into unity after the perfect unity existing in the Triune God" (Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia in America, 70). The challenge of this "New Evangelization" is clear; we are all called to live out our baptismal vocation through lives of sacrificial service, at the heart of the Church, for the sake of the world. All of the faithful, men, and women, lay, clergy and religious, need to view themselves as missionaries. We also need to view the mission of the Church as OUR mission. It is not reserved for a group of "professionals" but is the task incumbent on all of the faithful. Since the Second Vatican Council in the Catholic Church, the consistent emphasis of the teaching concerning missionary activity has been the fundamental truth that the Church is by nature missionary and that every baptized Christian participates in that missionary activity. The Lord of the harvest is calling workers for this "New Evangelization" of His Church. According to the reports of Andrea Tornielli this new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization will be specifically tasked with evangelizing "countries where the Gospel has been announced centuries ago, but where its presence in their peoples' daily life seems to be lost. Europe, the United States and Latin America would be the areas of influence of the new structure." A Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization? Bring it On!
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
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