AD 33… 2013… 2033… New Evangelization, Now and Then

AD 33… 2013… 2033… The New Evangelization, Now and Then

“Jesus did not come simply to make bad people good, but to make a dead man alive, to set captives free.” So true! This statement is attributed to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and it contains a critically important truth which we must fully understand and embrace if we are to fully embrace the new evangelization and understand it to be as necessary, urgent, irreplaceable, and mandatory as the ongoing work of evangelization of which Pope Paul VI spoke in Evangelii nuntiandi – On Evangelization in the Modern World: (www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_p-vi_exh_19751208_evangelii-nuntiandi_en.html.)

In fact, in that Apostolic Exhortation of 1975, published after the first modern-day Synod of Bishops on Evangelization (1974), the Holy Father gave the first indications of the need for a new evangelization when he spoke of a “new period of evangelization” and of other “new” realities demanding a “new” response. I detail the development of the papal understanding of the new evangelization in my article “Implementing The New Evangelization, Now and Then (www.satodayscatholic.com/Martha_121611.aspx.)

So, I say: Let’s be disciples! Let’s be new evangelizers! Let’s be saints!

Let’s get going! Let’s get the job done! Not simply engaging in a new evangelization “every now and then”, but regularly, daily, using all moments, methods, and means at our disposal, engaging in personal and parish evangelization as a way of life, as mission-minded as Jesus Christ Himself! To do so, we need to develop a culture of change, a culture of conversion, a culture of witness, and a culture of Pentecost as I wrote in my articles “New Pentecost… New evangelization… New Springtime… Civilization of Love!” (www.satodayscatholic.com/052308_Martha.aspx) and “A New Pentecost for a Culture of Pentecost; A Culture of Witness for a New Evangelization” (www.satodayscatholic.com/Martha_051812.aspx).

I posted the above-mentioned quote attributed to Benedict XVI on Facebook earlier and a dear Brazilian friend and brother in the Lord (who until not that long ago was one of the most creative and dynamic new evangelizers I’ve met) commented: “We proposed that in 1989. It took 24 years.” I responded:

Yes, Catholics worldwide have been waking up gradually to the call and mission that people like you and I and others promoted, as we worked alongside Fr. Tom Forrest, CSSR at Evangelization 2000 as we facilitated worldwide, with the blessing of Pope John Paul II, a “Decade of Evangelization” during the 1990s in preparation for the Great Jubilee Year 2000. We did so through our Evangelization 2000′s five Continental Offices and five worldwide initiatives:

  1. Worldwide Prayer Campaign (of which I was the Director for North America and the Caribbean for a few years in DC);
  2. Worldwide Association of Coordinators of Catholic Schools of Evangelization (ACCSE/2000);
  3. Lumen 2000 (television and radio shows);
  4. New Evangelization 2000 magazine (to which I contributed on more than one occasion);
  5. Worldwide Priests Retreats that gathered thousands of bishops and priests from across the globe twice, with the presence of great leaders and speakers such as Blessed Pope John Paul II and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta (who prayed for Fr. Tom daily as his “Veronica Intercessor” and wrote dozens of letters to him over the course of the years, a handful of which she also addressed to me, thanking me for my assistance with the Veronica Intercessors for Priests prayer project). 

Those were great days! Our humble service to the Church Universal paid off: we and so many others contributed to keeping alive and implementing at various levels Blessed John Paul II’s vision for a new evangelization worldwide.

Thank God Pope Benedict XVI, in continuity of faith, took up and carried on this mission and gave it even greater structure and permanency with his three strategic moves:

1)    First, the establishment of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization under the leadership of Archbishop Rino Fisichella – with whom I shared the stage and alongside whom I delivered two talks in Sydney, Australia in August, 2012, and who wrote me a very nice letter this past December praising several of the new evangelization initiatives I have developed and implemented over the years (www.vimeo.com/MarthaFernandezSardina; http://iEvangelize.wordpress.com);

2)    Second, the convening of a Synod of Bishops on “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith” – October, 2012;

3)    Third, the promulgation of a Year of Faith (10-11-12 through 11-24-13: www.annusfidei.va) to deepen our understanding of the content of the Faith and to help us strengthen our personal response or personal act of faith based on a fresh and total adherence to the Faith of the Church – both of which (understanding and adherence) are necessary and will equip us for a renewed, bold, and enthusiastic public profession and proclamation of the Faith in this increasingly secularized, relativistic, and unbelieving world.

Yes, those were great times as the new evangelization was first launched. And these are even greater times! It’s a great time to be Catholic and a great time to give others reason to LEARN, LOVE, and LIVE the Faith handed down to us by the Apostles!

And as our dear EV2000 friends know, the next big Jubilee Year is just around the corner, 20 years from now (www.evangelization2033.eu) and we must both keep and share the Faith in preparation for it. So again and again I say:

Duc in altum! Let us “put out into the deep and let down our nets for a catch.”(Luke 5) 

Let us embrace the call to raise the dead and not simply content ourselves with calling one another “good”!

Let us embrace and implement the aim of the Year of Faith (“to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith” – Porta Fidei.) This is what I have been called to do: to help Catholics “put out into the deep” for what I call an “obedience-testing, faith-stretching, trust-strengthening, team-building, space-enlarging, net-busting, boat-sinking, miraculous, deep sea fishing expeditionduring the Year of Faith and beyond.

Let’s be disciples!

Let’s be new evangelizers!

Let’s be saints!

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