Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What is The New Evangelization?

What is the new evangelization?

To help you figure out how much you know, I ask you to take the quiz below. This means you have to STOP! Before you read anything below the picture, take this quiz:

1 - The new evangelization is about defending the faith better. True or false?
2 - The new evangelization is about improving our religious education programs. True or false?
3 - Benedict XVI started the new evangelization. True or false?
4 - The new evangelization is about sharing a new message about Jesus. True or false?
5 - The new evangelization should teach others what the Catholic Church teaches about being Catholic. True or false?
6 - The new evangelization's goal is to make more people Catholic. True or false?

(Answer key is at the bottom of this post)



The new evangelization is an effort to re-evangelize peoples and cultures that were once Catholic with renewed fervor and in different ways that touch the culture of modern man. Thus, the Church makes a discinction between the primary evangelization, which is when the kerygma is proclaimed ("Kerygma" refers to the first and necessary part of the Good News about Jesus) and a re-proposal of this Good News through a re-evangelization or new evangelization of those that were formerly Christian or live in formerly Christian nations.

So, the first (or initial) evangelization targets those who are not familiar with Jesus.
The new evangelization (or secondary / re-evangelization) targets those who are already familiar with Jesus some, but have never chosen to follow Him.

JPII first called used the term when he first visited his home country of Poland, as Pope, while it was run by the Communists. He visited a town built by the Communists without a church. The people refused to accept the lack of faith and started to gather around a cross they erected again and again, after the Communists would take it down. He said to the crowds:
"The new wooden Cross was raised not far from here at the very time we were celebrating the Millennium. With it we were given a sign that on the threshold of the new millennium, in these new times, these new conditions of life, the Gospel is again being proclaimed. A new evangelization has begun, as if it were a new proclamation, even if in reality it is the same as ever. The Cross stands high over the revolving world."
Since many of the Polish people had lost their faith, he wanted them to once again go to those people and evangelize them. He wanted them to follow Jesus.

In later documents, exhortations, and homilies, he started to clearly define what he wanted to happen. One of the clearest definitions is found in

In Redemptoris Missio, 33 - John Paul II describes three different circumstances in which we are to evangelize:
  1. Mission ad gentes, (which means “to the nations”) This is a situation where “Christ and his Gospel are not known.” 
  2. Christian communities: “In these communities the Church carries out her activity and pastoral care.” This would be in our parishes, ministries, and to those who are actively part of the life of the Church already.
  3. New Evangelization: “where entire groups of the baptized 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. In this case what is needed is a ‘new evangelization’ or a ‘re-evangelization.’”
Even though there are 3 different areas, JPII goes on to warn us not to segment them. In other words - we are to evangelize everyone at all times in all places. Furthermore, he warns us not to forget that Jesus called us to make "disciples of all nations" and that the missionary nature of the Church is to first preach the Gospel to those who have never heard it.

With all of this in mind, we can see that the new evangelization is more than a buzzword or a slogan. We must carefully guard the true meaning of it, unless we rob it of the challenge it presents to us - to be missionaries to those we meet!

So, we cannot wait for the Church leaders to come up with programs. We must evangelize today. We must not wait! The answer to the problems in our culture are found through holiness and evangelization. It must be done in our homes, our workplaces, and where no Bishop ever trods. The laity must lead in this area.

Too often we settle as Catholics. We settle for the "way it has always been done" or believe "it is good enough". Well, the results are in and the way we have operated really isn't good enough and the way it has always been done is failing us miserably.

We need vision. We need leaders. We need risk-takers!

If we are true disciples we cannot fail to make more disciples. This can only be done in real relationships between friends. To help raise up disciples we must be on the look out for times to make the initial proclamation of the Good News. Then we must continue the relationship to help guide a person into a deep relationship with Christ through prayer and conversion.

Knowledge about Jesus is not enough. Transformation of lives is the goal and this only comes when we know Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him. We cannot wait for a program. We cannot wait for the Bishops to issue a document. We cannot wait for our parish to form a committee. As JPII said in Novo Millennio Ineunte 40:
"This passion will not fail to stir in the Church a new sense of mission, which cannot be left to a group of "specialists" but must involve the responsibility of all the members of the People of God. Those who have come into genuine contact with Christ cannot keep him for themselves, they must proclaim him."
If you want to know more about the process of forming Disciples, then I cannot recommend Sherry Weddell's new book any more highly - Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus. It was built from the many years Sherry has had of charting the problems and then working on a solution through the Siena Institute. The following quote gets to the heart of the problem and the resulting solution (which points out the mountain we must climb):
"As we listened to the spiritual experiences of tens of thousands of Catholics, we began to grasp that many, if not a majority of, Catholics don't know what 'normal' Christianity looks like. I believe that one reason for this is the selective silence about the call to discipleship that pervades many parishes. Catholics have come to regard it as normal and deeply Catholic to not talk about the first journey - their relationship with God - except in confession or spiritual direction. This attitude is so pervasive in Catholic communities that we have started to call it the culture of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'" 
She then goes on to discuss how we must break out of this culture in order to capitalize on the potential that is now latent in our Church, in the U.S.

In other words, we have to reinvigorate the Church with a hunger for Christ by the initial proclamation of the Gospel.
Then we need to form intentional disciples.
Then we send them out to the world and repeat this cycle.

The multiplication of disciples can and will change our culture and individual lives.

The age-old questions which ask how are we to turn the culture around are found in the age-old answers of getting into the hard work of evangelization and forming disciples who are equipped to take on the culture with vigor and determination. Now is the time to proclaim the Good News! Now is the time to form disciples. Now is the time for a renewal of our culture!

What will you do today to bring the Good News to others?

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FURTHER READING:
**Intro to Evangelization
**An Atheist Tells Us How To Evangelize
**Evangelization is Hard and Scary
**Why The New Evangelization is Needed
**The Do's and Don'ts of Evangelization and Apologetics
**How Not to Evangelize
**When Wolves Evangelize
**Fr. Barron on Evangelizing the Culture
**How to Evangelize Without Being Triumphant

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QUIZ ANSWERS:
All answers are False:

1 - The new evangelization is about defending the faith better. True or false?

  • We can certainly do a better job of defending the faith, but it isn't what the new evangelization is about.

2 - The new evangelization is about improving our religious education programs. True or false?

  • Again, this isn't a bad idea, but not the heart of it.

3 - Benedict XVI started the new evangelization. True or false?

  • No. JPII did.

4 - The new evangelization is about sharing a new message about Jesus. True or false?

  • No. The message is the same.

5 - The new evangelization should teach others what the Catholic Church teaches about being Catholic. True or false?

  • No. It is about preaching the Kerygma.

6 - The new evangelization's goal is to make more people Catholic. True or false?

  • No. It is about making disciples.

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