Saturday, October 6, 2012

What's "New" About The New Evangelization?

Artificial lights conceal the gathering storm....

The Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization begins this coming week. It is worthwhile to recall the words of Benedict XVI when he established the special Congregation for the New Evangelization last year. Among other things, Benedict has a special concern for the need to bring the Gospel in a new way to Western culture that has become alienated from the faith that shaped its past:

The term, “new evangelization” recalls the need for a renewed manner of proclamation, especially for those who live in a context, like the one today, in which the development of secularization has had a heavy impact, even in traditionally Christian countries.
The Gospel is the ever new proclamation of the salvation worked by Christ which makes humanity participate in the mystery of God and in his life of love and opens it to a future of strong, sure hope. Highlighting that at this moment in history, the Church is called to carry out a new evangelization, [which] means intensifying her missionary action so that it fully corresponds to the Lord’s mandate.
The Second Vatican Council recalled that “The groups among whom the Church operates are utterly changed so that an entirely new situation arises” (Decree Ad Gentes, n. 6). The farsighted Fathers of the Council saw the cultural changes that were on the horizon and which today are easily verifiable. It is precisely these changes which have created unexpected conditions for believers and require special attention in proclaiming the Gospel, for giving an account of our faith in situations which are different from the past.
The current crisis brings with it traces of the exclusion of God from people’s lives, from a generalized indifference towards the Christian faith to an attempt to marginalize it from public life. In the past decades, it was still possible to find a general Christian sensibility which unified the common experience of entire generations raised in the shadow of the faith which had shaped culture. Today, unfortunately, we are witnessing a drama of fragmentation which no longer acknowledges a unifying reference point; moreover, it often occurs that people wish to belong to the Church, but they are strongly shaped by a vision of life which is in contrast with the faith....
Throughout the centuries, the Church has never ceased to proclaim the salvific mystery of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, but today that same message needs renewed vigour to convince contemporary man, who is often distracted and insensitive. For this reason, the new evangelization must try to find ways of making the proclamation of salvation more effective; a proclamation without which personal existence remains contradictory and deprived of what is essential.
Even for those who remain tied to their Christian roots, but who live the difficult relationship with modernity, it is important to realize that being Christian is not a type of clothing to wear in private or on special occasions, but is something living and all-encompassing, able to contain all that is good in modern life.

1 comment:

JohnL said...

John, you are right. Western civilisation is going through a period or crisis of rapid social decline, especially in the spiritual realm. The tragedy is that there is no comprehension of this development, and the social costs that are also rapidly increasing, in fact there are strident efforts to exclude Christianity from society - to argue that if you want to believe then it is totally a private matter. The residual impact of the effect of Christian belief and morality that has underpinned the stability of Western civilisation has all but dried up. The modern world shuts out virtually any contemplation of Man and his relationship with God with electronic clatter and clutter.
We need to use electronic medium more effectively but still retain the validity of Christ's gospel.