What is New About the New Evangelization and Who Needs It?
faith. The protagonists of this mission are the men and women who, like St. Paul, can say: "For me to live is Christ" -- persons, families, communities, who decide to work in the vineyard of the Lord, according to the image of this Sunday's Gospel (cf. Matthew 20:1-16)."
The Catholic Church needs conversion at every level. This will necessitate solid catechesis, instruction in the Catholic Christian faith. Many Catholic Christians do not know what their Church actually teaches. They have embraced what some have called a "cafeteria Catholicism"- choosing what parts of the faith they will follow.
In some cases, a practical atheism is spreading, demonstrated by those who claim the title Christian and profess the ancient Christian Creed at Mass but fail to live it during the rest of the week. The message at the core of the New Evangelization is that - before all of this - people need an encounter with the Risen Jesus Christ.
One of the greatest messengers of this call to such an encounter with the Risen Lord is Dr. Ralph Martin. When I was a young man, in my early association with the Franciscan University of Steubenville, I had the privilege of walking and working with Ralph Martin on some projects. His love for the Lord and ability to communicate that love to others was infectious.
As the years passed, our paths crossed less and less. However, Ralph has continued to pour his life out to do all that he could to bring as many people into the experience of that encounter. I was thrilled to see Ralph pursue further theological training, rooted in his own love for the Lord. I did the same. When I read of his appointment as an expert, a consultor for the Synod on the New Evangelization I was not surprised. In fact, I was elated.
My favorite definition of a theologian is from an early church monk named Evagrius of Pontus. He wrote that a theologian is one who "rests his head on the chest of Christ." The image calls to mind the beloved disciple, John, depicted as doing just that in early Christian art. It also speaks of the indispensable prerequisite for any fruitful study of the Bible, a relationship with the Lord in the intimacy of prayer. Ralph Martin is just such a person.
Ann Schneible recently interviewed Ralph in Rome. The full interview can be read here. Ralph shared with her his thoughts on the New Evangelization. Here is an excerpt:
"ZENIT: We've been hearing this term "New Evangelization" for decades now. However, as Catholics we have always been called to evangelization. What characterizes this New Evangelization as "new"?
Ralph Martin: "I think John Paul II really gives a very clear definition in Redemptoris Missio, section 33, where he makes a threefold distinction:
"Primary evangelization is preaching the Gospel to people who have never heard it before, like un-evangelized tribes or peoples or cultures, and that has traditionally been the mission work of the Church, what we have understood as evangelization.
"We also have something called "pastoral care" that's addressed to people who are already living in some relationship with Christ.
"But now, we're facing a new situation which is becoming increasingly widespread that we need to respond to, where people who have some Catholic background or they're baptized perhaps, or they're Irish Catholic or German Catholic or Hispanic Catholic, but they're not living as disciples of Christ. These people need to be told the Gospel again, or maybe even for the first time."
"One of the things that's "new" about the New Evangelization is who it's directed to: our fellow Catholics. Another thing that's new about the New Evangelization is who does it: not just missionary orders, but every single Baptized Catholic is really called to say "yes" to their call to evangelization."
- - -
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: New Evangelization, missionary, Evangelism, Ralph Martin, conversion, Synod, Year of Faith, renewal, Deacon Keith Fournier
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Living Faith News
- The Holy Spirit: Sanctifier and Giver of Life, Love and Truth
- The Paraclete: The Counselor Who Helps Us Fulfill Our Calling
- Pope Francis calls for change within the Church
- Atheists to have their books placed atop Gideon Bibles
- Killer whale with missing fins cared for by its pod family
- C-section leaves mom fighting for life over dreaded flesh-eating virus
- Pope Francis tells world's leaders to abandon 'cult of money'
- Saint Cyril of Alexandria Reminds Us: The Holy Spirit Helps Us to Live a New Kind of Life
- Women, Behold Our Mother
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?