(And what was wrong with the old one?)
Recently, someone said to me, “If we spent as much time doing the new evangelization as we have spent talking about it, perhaps we’d be done already.” Truly, much has been said about the new evangelization over the past fifty years. In 1975, Pope Paul VI wrote in Evangelii Nuntiandi that the Church must evangelize not only those who have never heard the Gospel proclaimed, but also those who have heard the Gospel, but “are indifferent and not living in accordance with the faith” (56).
Fifteen years later, in Redemptoris missio, Pope John Paul II again emphasized the need for a “new evangelization or re-evangelization” for those “…entire groups of the baptized [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” (33).
In 2000, Pope John Paul II wrote in Novo millennio ineunte, “Over the years, I have often repeated the summons to the new evangelization. I do so again now… (40).
Pope Benedict XVI has once again called our attention to the new evangelization. The Synod of Bishops, which will convene in October, will discuss The New Evangelization for the Transmission of Faith and the Year of Faith, which begins October 11, 2012. The Year of Faith is intended as an opportunity for Catholics to participate in the new evangelization. With all this attention on the new evangelization, surely some are wondering, “Isn’t the new evangelization… getting old?”
But that’s the thing about the new evangelization – it’s always new. The Church must unceasingly discern new ways to respond to rapidly changing circumstances, to proclaim the Gospel in new ways that take into account today’s culture, to speak anew to those who have heard the Gospel message, but for whom it did not take root.
The new evangelization is not redoing something that has already been done or correcting what was done incorrectly. Rather, the new evangelization is “new” energy, methods, and language used to make comprehensible the Gospel message in the context of one’s life, personally and socially. The new evangelization will not be “done” until the world is done changing.
New evangelization is the work of all the Church. Only those who have been evangelized – those who have heard the Good News of Christ – can proclaim that Good News in their lives, actions and words. Therefore, we each must be newly evangelized, letting the Light of Christ illuminate the dark corners of our lives, so Christ can be further revealed to us in new ways, renewing our joy, enthusiasm and fervor for proclaiming that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
With new energy for living a life of discipleship, we pray that those who have fallen away from the practice of the faith may hear the proclamation of the Gospel in a new way that speaks to their circumstances and rekindles in them the love of Christ, our hope for the future.
Introductory Document for the Synod: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/synod/documents/rc_synod_doc_20110202_lineamenta-xiii-assembly_en.html
Amy S. McEntee is an assistant director in the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. She is also the chairperson of the Executive Board for the National Catholic Young Adult Ministry Association.
Amy has ministry experience in the areas of faith formation for children, youth and adults. She has presented locally and nationally, particularly in the areas of young adult ministry, new evangelization and social media in ministry. In addition, she has been a contributing author to both print and electronic publications, including Catechetical Leader and Young Adult Ministry in a Box.
An amateur photographer and avid reader, Amy can often be found in art museums, bookstores and coffee shops. She lives with her husband, Patrick, in Dayton, Ohio.