The New Evangelisation

The Synod of Bishops has just completed its latest meeting, and it has delivered a message to the People of God (that’s us !!!), in this Year of Faith, about the New Evangelisation.

Now — quite apart from the fact that the English translation of this message is stylistically flawed ; the contents of the message have not prevented the usual suspects from reacting to the declaration in their habitual manner.

Whether it’s to claim this message as more “proof” that Vatican II was “the Devil’s Council”, or to use the message as an occasion to heap abuse on Pope Benedict XVI, or leap onto their own personal hobby horse to ride into battle over Ecumenism, or Communion in the Hand, or the inherent goodness of the SSPX, or &c… the one feature that they ALL seem to have in common is that they do not deal with ANY of the actual contents of the message.

But I personally find that there are many contents in this message that are quite worth thinking about !!!

One comment in particular strike me as being rather wise :

5. Evangelizing ourselves and opening ourselves to conversion

We, however, should never think that the new evangelization does not concern us personally. In these days voices among the Bishops were raised to recall that the Church must first of all heed the Word before she could evangelize the world. The invitation to evangelize becomes a call to conversion.

We firmly believe that we must convert ourselves above all to the power of Christ who alone can make all things new, above all our poor existence. With humility we must recognize that the poverty and weaknesses of Jesus’ disciples, especially of his ministers, weigh on the credibility of the mission. We are certainly aware – we Bishops first of all – that we could never really be equal to the Lord’s calling and mandate to proclaim his Gospel to the nations. We know that we must humbly recognize our vulnerability to the wounds of history and we do not hesitate to recognize our personal sins. We are, however, also convinced that the Lord’s Spirit is capable of renewing his Church and rendering her garment resplendent if we let him mold us. This is demonstrated by the lives of the Saints, the remembrance and narration of which is a privileged means of the new evangelization.

If this renewal were up to us, there would be serious reasons to doubt. But conversion in the Church, just like evangelization, does not come about primarily through us poor mortals, but rather through the Spirit of the Lord. Here we find our strength and our certainty that evil will never have the last word whether in the Church or in history: “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27), Jesus said to his disciples.

The work of the new evangelization rests on this serene certainty. We are confident in the inspiration and strength of the Spirit, who will teach us what we are to say and what we are to do even in the most difficult moments. It is our duty, therefore, to conquer fear through faith, humiliation through hope, indifference through love.

So — the first step of the New Evangelisation, is to start by evangelising ourselves, or let ourselves be evangelised by others ?

It’s hard to reconcile this call to us from the Holy Father in communion with the Synod, with the knee-jerk reactions of some of our more skeptical brethren !!!

Second, the key to the New Evangelisation is not to try and do our own will, but to let the Will of the Christ work its own way through us ?

Well I can most certainly agree with this wisdom, and it’s clearly our best and only defense against the heresy of Modernism !!!

Revelation is not, after all, something that we have the power to control, or even understand, with our minds — but it’s that part of God and our relationship with God that we can understand in our souls. If we say “God is this”, or “God is that”, then I think we are far from His Kingdom indeed.

But then, so it is with the New Evangelisation — if we say the New Evangelisation is “this” or “that”, then how are we Evangelising ourselves ? How are we letting the Christ speak through our words ?

Shouldn’t we let ourselves simply be open to the opportunities that come our way, as God provides them, and let open our souls to the reactions to them that Prayer, or Graces, or Charisms might send to us, and then just speak or write the words that come with them ? It does not matter if these are just the words of our own minds, because the Christ can inspire us there as well – for as long as we never confuse the contents of our solitary minds with what the Christ wishes to be taught.

Revelation is given to us, together, not separately — our Faith in Revelation is that whatever one might neglect to say, through ignorance or lack of talent, will surely be said by another of the Faithful.

Quiet when we listen, thoughtful when we meditate, open and direct when we speak — this is the way of the Christian when we consider the Revelation of God.

Whatever is “new” about this Evangelisation concerns the surrounding culture, and the new technologies — as well as the failures of the past. Can we content ourselves with the simplistic catechesis of the 1970s and 1980s ? Can we cling to the false rebellions of these or those that have sprung up in the individualism of the culture ? Can we shut ourselves up in our talking shops, and our parish halls, and our cosy little online groups ?

Yes, we are facing a massive onslaught from the militant atheists, the indifferentists, the secularist politicians, the internet trolls, and in our daily lives all too often from our own families, our friends, our workmates, and all too many complete strangers with a chip on their shoulder. And one is sorely tempted to heed the Christ’s own advice to shake the dust off our feet, and move along…

But when they come knocking on our own door, we must stand firm and straightforward in our defense of the Revelation, that is Evangelisation.

We are become the body and the blood of the Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and the New Evangelisation is simply to declare our Faith and the Truth of God in the face of a hostile crowd that is pressing at our gates.

{6:12} For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the directors of this world of darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in high places.
{6:13} Because of this, take up the armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand the evil day and remain perfect in all things.
{6:14} Therefore, stand firm, having been girded about your waist with truth, and having been clothed with the breastplate of justice,
{6:15} and having feet which have been shod by the preparation of the Gospel of peace.
{6:16} In all things, take up the shield of faith, with which you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.
{6:17} And take up the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit (which is the Word of God).
{6:18} Through every kind of prayer and supplication, pray at all times in spirit, and so be vigilant with every kind of earnest supplication, for all the saints,
{6:19} and also for me, so that words may be given to me, as I open my mouth with faith to make known the mystery of the Gospel,
{6:20} in such a manner that I may dare to speak exactly as I ought to speak. For I act as an ambassador in chains for the Gospel. (Ephesians)

{8:38} For I am certain that neither death, nor life, nor Angels, nor Principalities, nor Powers, nor the present things, nor the future things, nor strength,
{8:39} nor the heights, nor the depths, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans)