New Evangelization

New EvangelizationThe term “New Evangelization” comes from Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (At the Beginning of the Third Millennium):

To nourish ourselves with the word in order to be “servants of the word” in the work of evangelization: this is surely a priority for the Church at the dawn of the new millennium. Even in countries evangelized many centuries ago, the reality of a “Christian society” which, amid all the frailties which have always marked human life, measured itself explicitly on Gospel values, is now gone. Today we must courageously face a situation which is becoming increasingly diversified and demanding, in the context of “globalization” and of the consequent new and uncertain mingling of peoples and cultures. Over the years, I have often repeated the summons to the new evangelization. I do so again now, especially in order to insist that we must rekindle in ourselves the impetus of the beginnings and allow ourselves to be filled with the ardour of the apostolic preaching which followed Pentecost. We must revive in ourselves the burning conviction of Paul, who cried out: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16).

Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) summarizes the meaning of the term “New Evangelization”:

14. Attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit who helps us together to read the signs of the times, the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops gathered from 7-28 October 2012 to discuss the theme: The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. The Synod reaffirmed that the new evangelization is a summons addressed to all and that it is carried out in three principal settings.[10]

15. In first place, we can mention the area of ordinary pastoral ministry, which is “animated by the fire of the Spirit, so as to inflame the hearts of the faithful who regularly take part in community worship and gather on the Lord’s day to be nourished by his word and by the bread of eternal life”.[11] In this category we can also include those members of faithful who preserve a deep and sincere faith, expressing it in different ways, but seldom taking part in worship. Ordinary pastoral ministry seeks to help believers to grow spiritually so that they can respond to God’s love ever more fully in their lives.

A second area is that of “the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism”,[12] who lack a meaningful relationship to the Church and no longer experience the consolation born of faith. The Church, in her maternal concern, tries to help them experience a conversion which will restore the joy of faith to their hearts and inspire a commitment to the Gospel.

Lastly, we cannot forget that evangelization is first and foremost about preaching the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him. Many of them are quietly seeking God, led by a yearning to see his face, even in countries of ancient Christian tradition. All of them have a right to receive the Gospel. Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone. Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, they should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but “by attraction”.[13]

Other Links

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) on the New Evangelization, on the EWTN site

New Evangelization Ministries (training saints to lead hearts to Christ), founded by  Deacon Ralph Poyo

Church Life: A Journal for the New Evangelization, “a free online journal that explores the theological and pastoral roots of the new evangelization, with particular attention to catechesis, liturgy, adult theological education, a spirituality of vocation, and the formation of ordained and lay ministers”; “a joint project of the Institute for Church Life, edited by the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, the journal is published quarterly.”

Catholic Apostolate Center (reviving faith, rekindling charity, forming apostles), located at the Pallottine Seminary outside Washington, D.C.