Cardinal Designate Timothy Dolan Addresses Pope and Cardinals During Day of Prayer and Reflection
point, this fact gives us immense confidence and courage in the sacred task of mission and New Evangelization.
"Be not afraid," we're told, is the most repeated exhortation in the Bible. After the Council, the good news was that triumphalism in the Church was dead. The bad news was that, so was confidence!
We are convinced, confident, and courageous in the New Evangelization because of the power of the Person sending us on mission -- who happens to be the second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity - because of the truth of the message, and the deep down openness in even the most secularized of people to the divine.
Confident, yes! Triumphant, never!
3. A third necessary ingredient in the recipe of effective mission is that God does not satisfy the thirst of the human heart with a proposition, but with a Person, whose name is Jesus.
The invitation implicit in the Missio ad gentes and the New Evangelization is not to a doctrine but to know, love, and serve -- not a something, but a Someone.
When you began your ministry as successor of St. Peter, Holy Father, you invited us to friendship with Jesus, which is the way you defined sanctity.
There it is . . . love of a Person, a relationship at the root of out faith.
4. Yes, and here's my fourth point, but this Person, Jesus, tells us He is the truth.
So, our mission has a substance, a content, and this twentieth anniversary of the Catechism, the approaching fiftieth anniversary of the Council, and the upcoming Year of Faith charge us to combat catechetical illiteracy.
True enough, the New Evangalization is urgent because secularism has often choked the seed of faith; but that choking was sadly made easy because so many believers really had no adequate knowledge or grasp of the wisdom, beauty, and coherence of the Truth.
And, just as Jesus tells us "I am the Truth," He also describes Himself as "the Way, and the Life."
The Way of Jesus is in and through His Church, a holy mother who imparts to us His Life.
"For what would I ever know of Him without her?" asks De Lubac, referring to the intimate identification of Jesus and His Church.
Thus, our mission, the New Evangelization, has essential catechetical and ecclesial dimensions.
This impels us to think about Church in a fresh way: to think of the Church as a mission. and each of us who names Jesus as Lord and Savior should measure ourselves by our mission-effectiveness.
...In once-catechized lands, it has meant a re-evangelization that sets out from the shallow waters of institutional maintenance, and as John Paul II instructed us in Novo Millennio Ineunte, puts out "into the deep" for a catch..
...in all circumstances, the Second Vatican Council and the two great popes who have given it an authoritative interpretation are urging us to call our people to think of themselves as missionaries and evangelists.
5. When I was a new seminarian at the North American College here in Rome, all the first-year men from all the Roman theological universities were invited to a Mass at St. Peter's with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal John Wright, as celebrant and homilist.
We thought he would give us a cerebral homily. But he began by asking, "Seminarians: do me and the Church a big favor. When you walk the streets of Rome, smile!"
So, point five: the missionary, the evangelist, must be a person of joy.
The New Evangelization is accomplished with a smile, not a frown.
The missio ad gentes is all about a yes to everything decent, good, true, beautiful and noble in the human person.
The Church is about a yes!, not a no!
6. And, next-to-last point, the New Evangelization is about love.
In New York, the heart of the most hardened secularist softens when visiting one of our inner-city Catholic schools. When one of our benefactors, who described himself as an agnostic, asked Sister Michelle why, at her age, with painful arthritic knees, she continued to serve at one of these struggling but excellent poor schools, she answered, "Because God loves me, and I love Him, and I want these children to discover this love."
7. Joy, love . . . and, last point . . . sorry to bring it up, . . . but blood.
Tomorrow, twenty-two of us will hear what most of you have heard before:
"To the praise of God, and the honor of the Apostolic See
receive the red biretta, the sign of the cardinal's dignity;
and know that you must be willing to conduct yourselves with fortitude
even to the shedding of your blood:
for the growth of the Christian faith,
the peace and tranquility of the People of God,
and the freedom and spread of the Holy Roman Church."
Holy Father, can you omit "to the shedding of your blood" when you present me with the biretta?
Of course not! We are but "scarlet audio-visual aids" for all of our brothers and sisters also called to be ready to suffer and die for Jesus.
It was Pope Paul VI who noted wisely that people today learn more from "witness than from words," and the supreme witness is martyrdom.
Sadly, today we have martyrs in abundance.
While we cry for today's martyrs; while we love them, pray with and for them; while we vigorously advocate on their behalf; we are also very proud of them, brag about them, and trumpet their supreme witness to the world.
They spark the missio ad gentes and New Evangelization.
A young man in New York tells me he returned to the Catholic faith of his childhood, which he had jettisoned as a teenager, because he read The Monks of Tibhirine, about Trappists martyred in Algeria fifteen years ago, and after viewing the drama about them, the French film, Of Gods and Men.
Tertullian would not be surprised.
As a newly-ordained parish priest, my first pastor said to me as I went over to school to teach the six-year old children their catechism, "Now we'll see if all your theology sunk in, and if you can speak of the faith like a child."
And maybe that's a fitting place to conclude: we need to speak again as a child the eternal truth, beauty, and simplicity of Jesus and His Church.
Sia lodato Gesu Cristo!
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Cardinal, Timothy, Dolan, Archbishop, New York. College of Cardinals, New Evangelization
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