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What is the New Evangelization?

Contact Julianne Stanz

Julianne Stanz
Director of New Evangelization
1825 Riverside Drive
Green Bay, WI 54301
Mailing address:
P.O. Box 23825
Green Bay, WI 54304-3825
Telephone: (920) 272-8270 or 1-877-500-3580, ext. 8270
Fax: (920) 272-8430
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

"The New Evangelization is a time of awakening, of new encouragement and new witness that Jesus Christ is the center of our faith and daily life. It calls on every member of the Church to a renewal of faith and an actual effort to share it" (The Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. Proposition #5)

Sharing the Good News

What do you think of when you hear the word "evangelization"? Does it call to mind images of popular televangelists? A knock at the door from someone who asks you if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Maybe it has become synonymous in your mind with sending money overseas to children who have never heard of Christ? If you have thought any of these things you are certainly not alone.



When we think of evangelization however, we should think of one person: Jesus Christ.


Jesus-New-Evangelization3The word "evangelism" comes from the Greek word "euangelizomai," which literally means "to bring Good News." The Good News that we are bringing to the world is not only the message of Jesus Christ but the person of Jesus Christ who desires a personal relationship with each one of us. It is this personal relationship that is at the heart of evangelization where all are called to an encounter with Christ, to deepen that encounter with Christ over a lifetime and to introduce others to Christ.

In the past, the term evangelization was often synonymous with introducing Christ to those who had never heard of the Christian message, often overseas and particularly in countries such as Africa and Latin America, often describe as mission "ad gentes" (to the nations). Evangelization in this context focuses on those who have never heard of Christ or the Gospel message. The New Evangelization however, focuses on enlivening or re-proposing the faith to those already baptized (often referred to as "re-evangelization") and inviting them into a personal dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ in and through the Christian community. These may be people who "have lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church, and live a life far removed from Christ and his Gospel"[1]

Today, the mission field has changed from foreign to domestic as we "re-propose" Jesus to those who have heard the basic proclamation of the life, death and resurrection of Christ but mistakenly believe that it has nothing of value to offer to them. The "methods, expressions and ardor"[2] which we utilize to share the good news include all of the means at our disposal including formation, retreats, classes, and new and emerging technologies such as social media and digital ministry strategies.

The 2008 Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) study entitled "Sacraments Today: Belief and Practice Among U.S. Catholics" states that only 23% of U.S. Catholics regularly attend Mass once a week, yet 77% self-identify as proud to be Catholic. In the Diocese of Green Bay, our Mass attendance rate averages to about 28% and is declining in general by about 3% per year. While these statistics may be grim, we do not evangelize because of dwindling statistics but because we are commanded by Christ to do so. It is clear that we may be financially richer as a society than ever before but in many other ways we are spiritually impoverished.

 

Three "Targets" of the New Evangelization

Colored-New-Evangelization-TargetThere are three "targets" of the New Evangelization:

1. Ourselves -- We must continually recommit ourselves to placing Christ at the center of our lives. This is an ongoing and lifelong process.

2. Our immediate family and friends -- Such persons may have heard the basic Christian message but mistakenly believe that the message of Jesus Christ has nothing of value to offer them. We often call this group the "fallen away," the "disengaged" or the "alienated." They may be our spouse, our children, grandchildren or our close friends.

3. The wider world -- We are called to be witnesses of the faith to "the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

 

Called To Be Holy

It is clear from various research institutes that many Christians today relegate their faith to one hour per week, to attendance at Mass without giving thought to how Christ is intimately integrated into all that they say and do. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis in his papal audience from May 15th, 2013, had this to say about compartmentalization of the faith: "Let's ask ourselves what steps we are taking so that the faith guides our existence because there are no part-time Christians, at certain moments, in certain circumstances, in certain choices," he said. "You can't be a Christian that way. You are Christians at all times, completely."

Young-AdultsBeing a Christian is a full-time occupation and not a part time decision that we choose at particular moments of our lives, often when we find ourselves in difficulty or times of trial. To live in Christ means that “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20)

Too often faith has been relegated to the private and to the hidden, never to be encountered in the public square. While there is a private dimension to faith, faith is an essentially public act that implies public testimony and commitment. Pope Emeritus Benedict tells us that "a Christian may never think of belief as a private act. Faith is choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with him" ("Porta Fidei" #10). Unless the Catholic Church offers active opportunities for youth and adults to understand the teachings of the Church and how to integrate the teachings of the Church into their lives, other voices and forces within the secular world will influence adults to believe and act outside of the faith. 

Christ Made Manifest

Evangelization is Christ made manifest to the world, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our Blessed Mother, is the model for all who evangelize both in her faithful and receptive listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and in her courageous and active response to the word of God. Mary truly is the Star of the New Evangelization and she will guide us to her Son if we place our trust in her.The New Evangelization asks us to use every means at our disposal to be Christ's hands, feet and voice to a world in need. I am reminded in this regard of the words of St. Teresa of Avila (1515–1582) in her famous prayer: Christ Has No Body.

Christ has no body but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

Compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,

Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

compassion on this world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Many people will never read Sacred Scripture or encounter Christ through the beauty of the Mass. But as Catholics who immerse ourselves in the Word we are called to be the Gospels to the world. The Scriptures are to be writ large in our lives so that all whom we meet encounter Christ in who we are. We are called no less to become fully engaged, fully alive in our call to Holiness. The is the command from Christ- this is the New Evangelization.


Endnotes

[1] Blessed Pope John Paul II, "Redemptoris Missio" #33.

[2] Pope John Paul II, "Address to the Latin Bishops" 1983.

[3] Bishop Ricken, "Parishes: Called To Be Holy, Fully Engaged, Fully Alive," 2011. Introduction.

[4] Bishop Ricken, "Parishes: Called To Be Holy, Fully Engaged, Fully Alive," 2011. Introduction.