When Pope Benedict XVI was speaking Dec. 17 to bishops from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands who were making their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican, the holy father pointed out that New evangelization is not an abstract idea to pitch, but rather a call to authentically live the Gospel message.
Authentically? That’s the trick right there, isn’t it?
Quoting from “Gaudium et Spes,” the Second Vatican Council document regarding the Church and society, B16 said, “Christian faith provides a surer basis for life than the secular vision; for ‘it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of humanity truly becomes clear.'”
What does that mean for us as New Evangelizers?
Here’s what we’re facing. B16 knows we as Catholics are facing a ton of challenges in today’s world. As he put it, a lot of this can be blamed on increased secularization such as “a weakened appreciation for the sacred nature of Christian marriage and the stability of the family. In such a context the struggle to lead a life worthy of our baptismal calling and to abstain from the earthly passions which wage war against our souls becomes ever more challenging.”
The pope added it was these kinds of challenges that prompted him to establish the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.
“Since the Christian faith is founded on the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, the new evangelization is not an abstract concept but a renewal of authentic Christian living based on the teachings of the church,” he said.
The pope encouraged the bishops to live in full communion with their brother bishops and priests and to strengthen their sense of faith and charity by saying, “so that those whom you serve, in their turn, may imitate your charity and be ambassadors of Christ both in the church and in the civil arena.”
I don’t think that’s just a message for bishops and priests, but all Catholics.
How do we make new evangelization less of an abstract concept, and more of a renewal of authentic Christian living based on the teachings of the church? How do you do it, or wish you did it?