What is the New Evangelization?
It’s an interesting time in history to be Catholic. While there appears to be no end in sight to the bad news we see day after day in the news, it likewise provides a significant door of chance for a Catholic voice. But will that voice be heard? Will that voice be sounded? And will the language of that voice be understood by today’s secular culture? Herein lies the challenge that the “New Evangelization” seeks to address.
This is what the ‘New Evangelization‘ is about– knowing that God has called all Catholics faithful to connect to others with the ageless gospel of Jesus Christ and to find out how to do that in such a way the culture around us can understand and react positively; to develop bridges for the world that “God so loved” in order that all people may understand the love of God made visible in Jesus Christ.
The New Evangelization calls each person to strengthen our faith, believe in the Gospel message and go forth to proclaim the Gospel. The focus of the New Evangelization calls all Catholics to be evangelized themselves, and then go forth with great conviction and joy to evangelize. In a unique way, the New Evangelization is focused on ‘re-recommending’ the Gospel to those who have experienced a crisis of faith. During his office as Pope, Benedict XVI called for the preaching of the Gospel to those areas that have never heard the gospel before, and to those regions where the roots of Christianity are deep but who have experienced a significant loss of faith due to secularization. “The New Evangelization invites each Catholic to restore and to revive their relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church – the Catholic Church.
Croatian Archbishop Nikola Eterović, who arranged a synod of bishops on the New Evangelization last fall, has defined New Evangelization by identifying three(3) different missionary effort:.
Evangelization as a routine activity of the church, a lifelong process directed at practicing Catholics;.
The mission ad gentes, implying the very first proclamation of Christ to non-Christians;.
“New Evangelization,” meaning outreach to baptized Catholics who have lost faith and have become distant from the faith.
Defined that way, the New Evangelization seeks to reach out to Catholics who in many cases have ended up being secularized. Europe and North America are very important here since that’s where a large portion of “secularized Catholics and Christians” are found.
Now, let’s put it all that into language that non-theologians can understand. In a nutshell, the “New Evangelization” can be seen as having to do with salesmanship or good marketing. The concept is to have the joy of the Gospel; the teachings of the Catholic Church touch the hearts and lives of those who live in our modern-day culture that does everything possible to prevent that “Good News” from being spread.
When John Paul II made use of the term “a new evangelization” he did not mean a new message since the message of the gospel can never change. However he did provide some information about how to tackle fulfilling the New Evangelization in The Church in America. The new evangelization requires a clearly conceived, well organized plan to evangelize culture and people in such a way that the Gospel is proclaimed in the language and in the culture of its hearers … It is more required than ever for all the faithful to move from a faith of routine, sustained maybe by social context alone, to a faith which is conscious and personally lived.
In order to share Christ with others in their ‘language and culture’ we need to know where individuals are today in their worldview. Often in Catholic circles we presume that the world outside the Church has some understanding of Catholic customs and our Faith. But this could not be further from the truth, which is why Christ and the Church are calling us to utilize ‘new methods, ardor and expression’ in our effort to make the riches of Christ and His gospel known to all the world.