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By Fr. Gregory Gresko, OSB

8/24/2011 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (

We must confront what Pope Benedict XVI has called a moral relativism

The key to the new evangelization of our Faith in this postmodern age is the fundamental relationship each one of us has with our Lord Jesus.  Do we take the time we need during each day to encounter Him heart to Heart?  Do we stay still long enough to search for God, to listen for His voice, to trust Him in a spirit of obedience even when He might lead us into uncomfortable waters for the sake of our own souls and those of our brothers and sisters in the human race?

Fr. Gregory Gresko, OSB

Fr. Gregory Gresko, OSB


By Fr. Gregory Gresko, OSB

Catholic Online (

8/24/2011 (4 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Fr. Gregory Gresko, OSB, Monk, Benedictine, New Evangelization, monastic, theology of the body

RICHMOND, VA (Catholic Online) - On August 2, Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal at the Apostolic Signatura (Vatican City) delivered the thought-provoking message, "The Work of the New Evangelization: 'So That the World May Know New Hope'" at the Knights of Columbus 2011 Supreme Convention in Denver.   In treating this theme during his discourse Cardinal Burke cited Blessed Pope John Paul II's concluding prayer in the post-synodal  Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America ("The Church in America") as the foundation for the work of spreading the Gospel message today. 

Placing the work of the new evangelization under the protective care of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, the Blessed Pontiff strove to secure new hope through her Son for families, homes, neighborhoods, and countries.   Cardinal Burke emphasized the vital importance of "teaching, celebrating and living our Catholic faith with the engagement and energy of the first Christians and of the first missionaries to our nations" as the Christian faithful pursue the fulfillment of God's universal call to holiness.

In Ecclesia in America, Blessed John Paul II urged the Church in America to encounter the person of Jesus Christ anew, that this experience with the living Lord is "the path to conversion, communion and solidarity" for our country (EIA 7).  In the course of his address earlier this month, Cardinal Burke intimated that secret to the success of the new evangelization is contained in Blessed John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, "At the Close of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000", where the beloved pope reminded the world that it will not be saved neither by new programs nor by "a formula but by a Person, and the assurance which He gives us:  I am with you" (NMI 29). 

The key to the new evangelization of our Faith in this postmodern age is the fundamental relationship each one of us has with our Lord Jesus.  Do we take the time we need during each day to encounter Him heart to Heart?  Do we stay still long enough to search for God, to listen for His voice, to trust Him in a spirit of obedience even when He might lead us into uncomfortable waters for the sake of our own souls and those of our brothers and sisters in the human race?

Cardinal Burke emphasized as critical to the success of the new evangelization that we as Christians engage actively in our participation in public life, in a manner that authentically reflects genuine discipleship in Jesus Christ.  Rooted in a life of prayer and the sacraments, the Christian is able to listen more carefully to the voice of Christ whom he encounters in a vibrant relationship with our Lord.  We are -- as Blessed John Paul II exhorts - to "have faith in Christ, to believe that what the Lord has promised to us will be fulfilled, and thus to live courageously the truth which has its highest expression in pure and selfless love." 

We must confront what Pope Benedict XVI has called a "moral relativism .. which has generated profound confusion and deadly error regarding the most fundamental truths of the moral order" even to the point that morality no longer exists (cf. Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor; also "Benedict XVI's Christmas greeting to the College of Cardinals, the Roman Curia and the Governorate: Resolved in faith and in doing good," in L'Osservatore Romano Weekly Edition in English, 22-29 December 2010, p.13).

In standing for the authentic teachings of our Lord Jesus wherever they may be, Christians have countless opportunities to defend the truths of our Faith through a natural unfolding of their daily attitudes and activities: standing against the immoral "murder of the unborn child in the womb"; opposing the "artificial generation of human life and its destruction, at the embryonic stages  of development, as the means to obtain supposed cures for crippling or deadly diseases"; confronting any attempts to justify the "so-called 'mercy killing' of those who have the first title to our care"; and defending the fundamental truths of human marriage and sexuality, written by God into the body and soul of each human person and manifested in holy marriage defined by God Himself through a spousal relationship between man and woman, and never between two persons of the same sex.

In confronting the significant moral challenges of our time, our active relationship with Jesus Christ - including our regular encounters with the living Lord sacramentally, especially in the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation - provides a firm foundation for any effort to share our Faith with others.  If we do not pursue holiness first in our own lives, why should people around us believe that a relationship with Jesus Christ leads to genuine joy and fulfillment in life?   The vocation of Christian life is a calling to authentic relationship with God, Who sanctifies believers as they  encounter His holiness and discover His divine love as the only drink to quench their thirsty souls.

In his Apostolic Letter Ubicumque et Semper (2010), Pope Benedict XVI established the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization to assist the Christian faithful in renewing the Church from within, so that she might be most effective in witnessing the Gospel to the world outside of her walls.  Pope Benedict articulates, "At the root of all evangelization lies not a human plan of expansion, but rather the desire to share the inestimable gift that God has wished to give us, making us sharers in His own life."

It is exciting that we in the United Statest have witnessed some beautiful testimony especially in recent months from our bishops, in light of the new evangelization.  Archbishop Timothy Dolan has shared gregariously his love in the national media, leading NBC's Today show intimately for two days into the halls of Vatican City, even making their way possible to encounter the Vicar of Christ in person.  In doing so, he helped bring milliions of Americans - Catholics, non-Catholic Christians, and non-Christians alike -- into deeper personal contact with our Holy Father and into a more authentic experience with the Catholic Church than the media often portray. 

Bishop Jean Laffitte, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, in his interview recently with Catholic News Agency also provided important insight into the authentic interpretation of Blessed John Paul II's Catecheses on Human Love (known popularly as "Theology of the Body") You can read the  full interview here.  Through the powerful witness to the Gospel in the faith of both bishops - and certainly of so many others in our Church as well -- we encounter the living Lord at work through their love and teaching, renewing those who seek to grow in their relationship with the living Lord and helping us to minister to those around us who thirst for the Gospel. 

May the Church's beloved pontiffs Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, and of her bishops Cardinal Burke, Archbishop Dolan, and Bishop Laffitte - among so many other Church leaders - provide living testimony to each one of us in how a loving, living relationship with Jesus Christ gives us hope and the moral fortitude to stand always for what is true and right, giving us the impetus to grow in holiness.  It is ultimately only when the world encounters Jesus authentically through His faithful that the world will change, one soul at a time, both within and outside of the Church for the salvation of souls in Jesus Christ.

Fr. Gregory Gresko, OSB, is a Benedictine Monk at Mary Mother of the Church Abbey in Richmond, Virginia. He earned his S.T.B. from the Pontificial Athenaeum of Sant'Anselmo in Rome and his S.T.L. magna cum laude in Moral Theology (Marriage and Family Studies) in 2008 from the Pontifical Lateran University, John Paul II Institute (Vatican City).  His S.T.L. dissertation was entitled, "Educating to Love: Foundational Pedagogy in Light of Karol Wojtyla's Love and Responsibility". Fr. Gregory is working on his doctoral dissertation for the same Vatican institute, on "The Consecration of the Family to the Heart of Jesus in Light of the Pastoral Ministry of Pčre Mateo Crawley-Boevey"


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