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8 November 2012
The Synod of Bishops on the “New Evangelisation for the transmission of the Christian faith” was an opportunity for the Church to reflect on its more essential mission in our days. The Synod Fathers, accompanied by auditors, experts and special guests, highlighted the need for a new and authentic Pentecost to give a fresh impetus to the work of evangelisation, vital for the prophetic proclamation and for enabling the experiential encounter “with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (Deus caritas est, 1). A special attention must be put onto the petition to the Holy Father to consecrate the world to the Holy Spirit. A proposal of this magnitude underscores the urgency of spreading the culture of Pentecost, giving the primacy and prominence to the Third Person of the Holy Trinity in the great commandment of Jesus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). ICCRS takes advantage of this news to share some interventions that that refer explicitly about the topic:
Our problem is not so much a visible adversary, but the invisible evil powers (Er 6,12). It was Pentecost that started the first evangelisation, and we need a new Pentecost. We should, therefore, pray first of all fervently and constantly to the H. Spirit, as Evangelii nuntiandi nr. 75 suggests. This should be the first element of a worldwide strategy of the new evangelization. This prayer to the H. Spirit was promoted by great missionaries like St. Arnold Janssen (1837-1909) and formed the basis of the Catholic Charismatic Movement in 1967. Jesus Himself promised the H. Spirit to everyone who asks for Him (Lk 11:13)! Maybe the H. Father will introduce Benedictine prayers at the end of Mass (cfr. the Leonine prayers of Leo XIII), or a constant novena, to ask Him to come. We should promote the art of discernment of spirits. In this time of relativism, in which objective truth is not easily accepted, we may help people to compare their own subjective experiences to lead them to the objective truth. We do not only have to present the gospel and the catechism, but have to promote the spiritual exercises, in which we confront people with the Jesus of the gospels and the Church, and help them to compare the influence of His Spirit in their lives with the outcomes of a more hedonistic way of life (cfr. Ga. 5:29-23). Thus they will be led to the knowledge and recognition of the objective truth of their human nature, its deepest desires, and God in their conscience. In this way they will discover St. Peter and his successors, and the church (Cf. Bl. John Henry Card. Newman (1801-1890). This means we should give priests and religious a better spiritual formation, in order to be spiritual directors, to be real spiritual fathers and mothers. We should promote the prayer to the angels and archangels in the new evangelisation. Many Popes and saints have practiced this devotion, and promoted it. Families are essential in the transmission of the gospel. In this context our society does not know sin anymore. Still, sin has its influence on the openness to the gospel-message. Pornography, sexuality outside marriage of man and woman, contraception, abortion, will close the heart. Who, indeed, can say yes to God, the giver of life in abundance, if he or she, consciously or unconsciously, says no to human life? This means that the Church should courageously promote the gospel of life, including the theology of the body, natural family planning, and at the same time announce the very merciful God.
We live in a world of great promise but also of great need, sometimes marked by darkness. As the Church seeks to respond to our world situation and to evangelise in new ways, we must also realise that we are a Church with struggles. This world reality is calling for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Our Popes have called us to remember that “evangelisation will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 75). In order that Jesus Christ’s salvation may reach the whole world and transform it, that the Church may be renewed and holiness may flourish in it, that we Christians go forward with the New Evangelisation, we need a new Pentecost. In order that this Year of Faith yield the new Pentecost that we need, I propose to you, brother Bishops, that this Synod humbly ask the Holy Father to consecrate the world to the Holy Spirit.
The New Evangelisation is not a strategy or programme, but an invitation to an encounter and life-long relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church. It involves falling in love with the person of Jesus Christ and his bride, the Catholic Church. This encounter with Christ takes place in and through the Church so as not to foster a false dichotomy between spirituality and religion. Encounters with Christ in the Church help the faithful to understand the need for salvation and forgiveness from sin. Following the initial encounter with Christ, the faithful desire to spend time with the beloved in prayer, sacrament and to contemplate the face of God (Novo Millennio Ineunte). Hence, the Synod Fathers might propose a lifelong accompaniment of each Catholic on their journey of faith modelled on Christ's walk with the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. The faithful need the continued work of systematic, comprehensive and lifelong catechesis. Evangelisation and catechesis should help the faithful know, understand, live and share the faith. A catechesis for youth and adults that is age-appropriate and presented in an appealing and apologetic manner that answers the genuine questions of those participating in their formation would enhance the New Evangelisation. This basic presentation of the fundamentals of our faith, as found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in an attractive and appealing manner, for example at World Youth Day, will help to revive a confidence in the faith and a greater ability to share it with others. Fostering some practical initiatives would assist the New Evangelisation and catechesis: Lectio Divina, teaching prayer, making the Sacred Scriptures and the Sacrament of Penance more readily available (perhaps through offering the Sacrament at new times and on a consistent basis during Lent or Advent), pilgrimages, sharing the stories of the saints and martyrs, and making known the excellent work and ministry undertaken by Catholic institutions and apostolates. We discussed presenting the Sacraments in a new light aimed at reaching contemporary society. The preparation for individual sacraments should model the catechumenate and allow for personal encounters with Christ and the proclamation of the kerygma. Small Christian communities can help to connect people to one another, allowing for prayer and reflection on the Scriptures. We encourage the Synod Fathers to pray for a New Pentecost for the whole Church and to better understand the ways in which the Holy Spirit is working in the Church and lives of Catholics and other Christians. We stressed the importance of Liturgy well-celebrated and homilies that inspire and share the faith in a compelling manner. This will require formation for the clergy in liturgy, homiletics, and the New Evangelisation since they are formators for the new evangelisers. In order to be effective evangelists, the laity need better preparation for evangelisation. This should include doctrine, helping evangelists share the faith, perhaps through a wider use of images, suitable for the people they serve, some of whom may be illiterate; humility, acquiring the ability to articulate one's story of faith and testimony of Christ. Our group would wish to encourage bishops, priests and permanent deacons to know the lives of the people they serve in a more personal way. The bishop is an evangelist who leads by example and shares with all the baptised the blessings of being called to evangelisation. His ministry must have the characteristics of the shepherd (ad intra) and the fisherman (ad extra). Ongoing formation for clergy on the New Evangelisation and methods for evangelisation in the diocese and parish are needed. The family is a privileged centre for the new evangelisation. Catholic families are in great need of regular support and direct assistance from the Church and parish to became witnesses to the faith. Continuing inculturation of the gospel could bring together the life of Christ with the life and culture of all people. The inculturation of the Gospel involves becoming more of a welcoming Church to immigrants and those in need. We also considered the contribution of Religious and the witness of consecrated life, the establishment of catechists as a stable ministry within the Church, the need for post-sacramental catechesis, especially following Confirmation, the wisdom of consulting our Canon Lawyers when formulating diocesan policy, the particular needs of the Deaf Community, and the management of natural resources in times of conflict or warfare.
Both the Lineamenta (n.19) and the Instrumentum Laboris (n.139, 140), make the distinction between the INITIAL PROCLAMATION of the Gospel and CATECHESIS. The kergymatic proclamation calls for conversion to the Risen Lord Jesus Christ through Baptism. Catechesis, in a distinct but not separate manner, promotes growth and instruction in the Christian Life. Both constitute one pastoral action in two aspects. Clearly, with the magna carta document of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, much has been done over the last 20 years to express in compendium form the teachings of the Catholic Church. This has been a particular grace of the Holy Spirit. It continues to inspire catechesis throughout the Church. Is it time now to attempt a similar kind of compilation on the initial proclamation of the Catholic Church? Over the centuries, how has the initial proclamation of the Gospel been expressed? What have been examples of the outpourings of the Holy Spirit in our Catholic history? What have been the great approaches to the initial proclamation expressed by the Saints and missionaries? In our own time, what examples are there of the “new” evangelisation? On this last point, the Instrumentum Laboris (n.141-146) lists, for example, World Youth Days, the Pope's Apostolic journeys, national and local popular missions and devotional gatherings, preaching, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and so on. Also, there is a great gift of the Holy Spirit in the New Ecclesial Movements. They assist in developing a “Culture of Pentecost”. Both initial proclamation and catechesis together are to sing, in perfect harmony to the world, a duet that responds afresh to the Lord Jesus' command; “Go into the world and proclaim the Good News to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15)
Visit the Vatican website to find all the interventions.