The New Evangelization: A Cure To What Ails Us Today
"I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me." (Rom 10:20)
Today, we need this now more than ever. Look around you today. The world is in a complete mess. Everything has changed or is changing so fast that it is very hard to keep up with everything that is going on around you.
GK Chesterton wrote, “ The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” This is exactly why we need evangelization now more than ever. Evangelization helps out two people. The person who is receiving and the person who is giving.
If you are reading this you are probably worried about getting out of your comfort zone and talking about religion to a person. You might be thinking that you could not possibly do such a thing. I am here to tell you, yes, you can. Yes, you can and more importantly yes, you will do it.
Seven Reasons To Do Evangelization Now
First, Pope Benedict XVI back in 2011 explained that there was a real sense of urgency on the part of the Church for a New Evangelization
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28:19,20). With these words, Jesus Christ, before he ascended to heaven to take his place at the right hand of God the Father (cf. Eph 1:20), sent his disciples forth to proclaim the Good News to the whole world. They were a small group who were called to be witnesses of Jesus of Nazareth, his earthly life, his teaching, his death, and above all his resurrection (cf. Acts 1:22). Though this great task seemed an impossibility, the Lord Jesus offered them encouragement by promising the gift of the Paraclete, whom the Father will send in his name (cf. Jn 14:26) and who "will guide [them]... into all the truth" (Jn 16:13). In addition, he assured them of his abiding presence: "and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28:20).
Second, this sense of urgency has only increased since 2011. Today according to the Gallup Poll (March 2021) only 47% of Americans claim a Church membership. This is down 23 points since the year 2000. To put this more into perspective I will offer two anecdotal pieces of evidence. Both of these stories were witnessed by a school teacher friend of mine. The first one took place four years ago when that teacher was helping their students fill out some college application forms. One of the students in the class asked the teacher, “ Are Catholics Christians?” That person was checking off religious backgrounds and it had several categories: Catholic or Christian. The teacher laughed but knew that question was real. The real question should have been how did the student go through religious education classes, First Communion classes, and Confirmation classes without knowing that Catholics are indeed Christians. The second episode took place this year when a fellow teacher asked that same teacher, “Why are we getting off this Friday?” The teacher smiled and explained about Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the fact that the majority of the student’s in the school was Catholic and this Sunday was Easter- the day that Jesus rose from the dead. The fellow teacher looked at the teacher and said, “ I did not realize that this was Easter.” These are two incidents that appear on the surface to be isolated facts, but they have become the norm in today’s society. In a society that doesn’t attend Church (less than 20% weekly attendance pre-pandemic) where are they going to get their religious education?
Third, society has put a concerted effort to block this evangelization process. All one has to do is tie together these six facts. A) 20% of the Church attends Mass weekly (pre- Pandemic) B) 25% of the population of the United States is made up of Lapsed Catholics, Cultural Catholics, Associated Catholics, or Converted to other faiths Catholics. C) If you add up 20 percent plus 25 percent of the American population you would not only have a large population of people, you would have a very changed country. D) More than 50% of the people under age 25 have a favorable opinion of Socialism. Whereas, only 15% of the same population attend Church. E) Bishop Fulton Sheen quote, “Too often Christians attracted by socialism tend to idealize it in terms which, apart from anything else, are very general: a will for justice, solidarity, and equality. They refuse to recognize the limitations of the historical socialist movements, which remain conditioned by the ideologies from which they originated.”
Fourth, we are in a spiritual war with the powers of Satan for control of this world currently. The media and our society will try to deny it but, we are in the middle of a spiritual war. Bishop Fulton Sheen explained why evil was allowed on the earth to such an extent this way, “ “Why is it that so few realize the seriousness of our present crisis? Partly because men do not want to believe their own times are wicked, partly because it involves too much self-accusation, and principally because they have no standards outside of themselves by which to measure their times … Only those who live by faith really know what is happening in the world. The great masses without faith are unconscious of the destructive processes going on.”
Fifth, Brothers and sisters, we have a duty to God to Evangelize. The fate of the Church rests in our hands. In proclaiming and transmitting the faith, the Church imitates God who communicates himself through the gift of his Son to humanity, who lives in Trinitarian communion, and who pours out the Holy Spirit so as to carry on a dialogue with humanity. So that evangelization might mirror this divine communication, the Church must allow herself to be formed by the Spirit and make herself configured to Christ crucified, who reveals to the world the features of God's love and communion. In this way, the Church will rediscover her vocation as Ecclesia mater, who begets children for the Lord by transmitting the faith to them and teaching them the love which generates and nourishes her children. The center of proclamation is Jesus Christ, who is believed and to whom a person bears witness. Transmitting the faith essentially means transmitting the Scriptures, primarily the Gospel, which give a person the opportunity of knowing Jesus, the Lord.
Sixth, what does new evangelization mean? Though well-known and undoubtedly a part of the Church's many projects, the "new evangelization" remains a relatively new expression and concept in ecclesial and pastoral circles. Consequently, its meaning is not always clear and precise. Initially introduced by Pope John Paul II during his apostolic visit to Poland, without any specific emphasis or idea of its future role, the "new evangelization" was used again and given new life in the Holy Father's Magisterium to the Churches in Latin America. Pope John Paul II used the term to reawaken and elicit renewed efforts in a new missionary and evangelizing undertaking on the continent. In this regard, he said to the bishops in Latin America: "The commemoration of this half-millennium of evangelization will have full significance if, like bishops, with your priests and faithful, you accept it as your commitment; a commitment not of re-evangelization, but rather of a new evangelization; new in its ardor, methods, and expression." Consequently, the new evangelization is not a matter of redoing something which has been inadequately done or has not achieved its purpose, as if the new activity were an implicit judgment on the failure of the first evangelization. Nor is the new evangelization taking up the first evangelization again, or simply repeating the past. Instead, it is the courage to forge new paths in responding to the changing circumstances and conditions facing the Church in her call to proclaim and live the Gospel today. In the past, the Latin American continent was facing new challenges (the spread of a communist ideology, the appearance of the sects). The new evangelization emerged after a process of discernment undertaken by the Church in Latin America to consider and evaluate the overall situation.
Seventh, we need to change our culture. We need to reach people as we have never reached them before and we need to convert people like it was the most important mission in our life because it truly is. The new evangelization is a frame-of-mind, a courageous manner of acting, and Christianity's capacity to know how to read and interpret the new situations in human history which, in recent decades, have become the places to proclaim and witness to the Gospel. Delineated and treated on various occasions, these sectors concern society, cultures, economics, civic life, and religion.
The Plan To Reach People and The Platform To Reach People Like You Have Never Reached Anyone Before.
The answer is social media. If social media has caused plenty of problems for society could we not harness its power for the good as well? This was a question I asked myself several months ago. I set out to do an experiment. I began to research different Catholic groups on Facebook. I was looking for the right platform that would allow this new evangelization of the 25% of the population of the United States to be in touch with the Church so that we can and will be able to get them once again to be full members of the Church. This is a worthy goal, this goal will change our nation, and this goal will change your life like it has done mine.
The results are in- and we have found a place that will help us do exactly this for the 25% of the population who had previous experiences with the Church. Bringing people back home- this is it! The Catholic Talk. This is exactly what America needs today and it will help the Church. The Catholic Talk is a forum created by the Catholic laity for fallen-away Catholics, nominal Catholics, practicing Catholics, and everyone who wants to learn more about the Catholic Faith. Whether you are a seasoned veteran who is wanting to delve deeper into the richness of the Catholic Faith, a cradle Catholic who has drifted away because some of the practices did not make sense, or you are simply curious about why Catholics practice their faith the way they do, there is something for you in The Catholic Talk.
The mission of The Catholic Talk is to bring back to the Church, people who are seeking a change, trusting in the Lord, and help any way possible in this reconversion process.
This is the truth, this is currently happening, and with your help, you can and will make the difference. What I am asking of you right now is three things.
- Share this article with seven of your friends and post it on your social media pages
- Register as a part of The Catholic Talk group
- Publish your comments on your new successes in this new evangelization as postings on The Catholic Talk
The time for talking is now over, the time of action is at hand, the time is now for The Catholic Talk
Unlike some articles that have the read and think- this article has you reading, thinking, and then doing something about it. You see you are truly the answer to what ails the Church. The Church will not be cured without your help.