Lost in the endless angry political ads and the cacophony of electoral battle last month was the three-week-long world Synod of Catholic bishops in Rome (see story, Page 5). The synod opened Oct. 7 and ended Oct. 28, and while it attracted very little secular news coverage — yet another reason to support the Catholic press — it was addressing some of the most critical issues of our day: The secularization of culture and the need for a New Evangelization.
|This renewal of faith must start with each of us — in our family, our parish, our community. In this Year of Faith, and in this Advent season we are about to enter, let us look for opportunities to share the love of Christ with others.
Many Catholics get a little nervous around the word “evangelization,” and “New Evangelization” may seem like a difference without a distinction. While we are all called to evangelize the culture by proclaiming the Good News (this is why we get nervous), the New Evangelization is about reigniting our own faith.
As Pope Benedict XVI phrased it at the synod’s opening Mass, the New Evangelization “is directed ‘principally at those who, though baptized, have drifted away from the Church and live without reference to the Christian life.’” This may add up to far more than half of all Catholics in our country.
The document published at the close of the synod, however, makes it clear that all of us are in need of a New Evangelization: “The invitation to evangelize becomes a call to conversion. We firmly believe,” the synod fathers said, “that we must convert ourselves.” Or, in other words, “the Church must first of all heed the Word before she could evangelize the world.”
The synod was launched amid a growing concern about what Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C., called the “tsunami of secularism.” Yet the closing document (which will be followed by an “apostolic exhortation” by the pope at a later date) strives to strike a hopeful tone. It encouraged the family to assume a “specific responsibility to proclaim the Gospel,” and the synod fathers said they were “concerned, yes, but not pessimistic” about young people:
“We sense in our youth deep aspirations for authenticity, truth, freedom, generosity, to which we are convinced that the adequate response is Christ.”
At its heart, the New Evangelization is simply a call to the conversion of hearts. It asks us to encounter Jesus anew in the Church and the sacraments. When our own hearts are “burning within,” then we can take this message to a world that thirsts for this good news.
This renewal of faith must start with each of us — in our family, our parish, our community. In this Year of Faith, and in this Advent season we are about to enter, let us look for opportunities to share the love of Christ with others in deeds and, when necessary, words.
By the time many of our readers are reading this issue, the election will be over. It may come as a surprise that we have no news on who won or lost. The reason is that in order for us to serve all of our thousands of customers, we must mail OSV Newsweekly more than a week in advance of its cover date. It is only at times like these that this lag time becomes embarrassingly unavoidable.
We will be providing timely and intelligent reaction to the election results on our website — www.osv.com — and in the next issue of the Newsweekly.