So, what IS the “new evangelization?” – UPDATE

In Catholic circles, everyone talks about “The New Evangelization”, but explaining what exactly it is, is not always easy. In my column in this issue of The Catholic Answer Magazine, I more or less “go to the sources” to help give solid examples of The New Evangelization, in Theory and Application:

Weeks before his death in 2005, Pope John Paul still appeared at his apartment window and, unable to speak, showed his faithful attention to the people and received theirs in return. His mere presence and mindfulness was a silent rebuke to a world being carried off by a culture of death; it was an eloquent statement that even when old and less-abled, the human person has both purpose and value beyond immediate understanding, all of it rooted in hope.

Pope Benedict XVI, introverted and shy, but dogged and dutiful in his lifelong service to the Church, was the professorial “teaching pope” whose every action and statement boiled down — in one way or another — to the power that resides in trust, which animates the fire of faith. To have faith in God is to trust in His love — to trust that He wants only our good, even when life seems to be handing us something bad. So important is trust to the life of faith, and so important is the Eucharistic faith to the life of the world, that Pope Benedict — realizing that trust in the Roman road was damaged and in need of repair — helped build new roads for rites of Christian unity. Most incredibly, when he realized that the world had stopped paying attention, this good teacher gave us one last, astonishing and profound lesson in what it means to have faith: he cast the whole Church (and therefore the world) into the path of the Holy Spirit in a supreme act of humility, and he trusted. Whether he had faith in the papal conclave is unknowable; his faith in Providence is unquestionable.

And what was delivered to the world through that act? A pope who took all of the theory of faith and hope, through 2,000 years, and showed us what its application looks like: it looks like you and like me. It looks like a casual greeting and an impromptu remark full of encouragement. It looks like the placing of flowers before a holy image, and sweetly familial prayer…

You can read the rest, here. As the last graf demonstrates, The New Evangelization is something so very basic that it is easy to miss.

In her weekly column, Peggy Noonan wrote of these three popes:

There’s a quality in certain popes so that when you see them go by in the popemobile, or just on a TV screen, your soul sort of jumps and you find yourself moved in a way you can’t explain. John Paul II was like that—I remember a businessman, a casual Protestant, turning to me once when the pope was on TV and saying: “I can’t figure it out but every time I see him my eyes fill up.”

. . .it wasn’t true of Benedict, who followed him, but it is true of Francis.

When you think about it, that’s not at all surprising. Hope and charity are both dynamic and dramatic — they both are extroverted in outreach. Faith is quiescent. It is an in-reach; the vertical part of the cross that balances hope and love.

Pat Archbold, reactionary, has 10 Quotes that prove the Pope is a “Liberal!”.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Manny

    I’ve been reading Lumen Fidei and I am overwhelmed with its logic, rhetorical argument, and artistry. I know both Popes worked on it, but really the voice tells me it is all Papa BXVI. He is an amazing thinker, and I am so drawn to him as I read it. Now I think the Pope Francis has it in spades on the new evangelization. The general public doesn’t care much for such theological brilliance. What the public seems to want is pastoring, and a bit of a showman at pastoring. BXVI just couldn’t do that. I am surprised at how Lumen Fidei has completely disappeared from the public spotlight. Even within Catholic blogosphere no one brings it up or tries to illuminate some of its more subtle points. It shows you even in the Catholic world it’s not a papal encyclical that drives discussion but hot button issues such as homosexuality and a grand display such as WYD.

  • Leroy Huizenga

    It sure as heaven was true of Benedict, for millions of us. Those, gentle, kind, Bavarian eyes, the gravity of his humble presence, the profound messages (more simple or more complex, depending on whether he was speaking to children or theologians or something in between).

  • mary370

    Watching Pope Benedict always made my heart leap.

  • NCMountainGirl

    Religious faith is hard to convey in soundbites and its images often require more background than the media is willing to spend time on, even if they could get the context right. To me their have been few images as moving as BXVI kneeling with his eyes fixed upon the Eucharist in a monstrance.

  • JLinn

    “. . .it wasn’t true of Benedict, who followed him, but it is true of Francis.” I beg to differ emphatically. For many of us it certainly WAS true of Pope Benedict!!! It grieves me when statements like that go unchallenged.

  • bender

    For a deeper understanding of Pope Francis and the New Evangelization, the Aparacida Document, which he helped write, and has been called a blueprint for the New Evangelization in Latin America, is useful.

    But then, whether it is Francis, Benedict, John Paul II (who coined the term), John Paul I, or Paul (who called for a new period of evangelization), the roots of the New Evangelization can be found in John XXIII’s opening address to the Council — “What is needed at the present time is a new enthusiasm, a new joy and serenity of mind in the unreserved acceptance by all of the entire Christian faith, without forfeiting that accuracy and precision in its presentation which characterized the proceedings of the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council. What is needed, and what everyone imbued with a truly Christian, Catholic and apostolic spirit craves today, is that this doctrine shall be more widely known, more deeply understood, and more penetrating in its effects on men’s moral lives. What is needed is that this certain and immutable doctrine, to which the faithful owe obedience, be studied afresh and reformulated in contemporary terms.”