Rorate Caeli

What will the New Evangelization be like? - Part I

A former Dominican church in the Netherlands, now a bookstore.

The following passages are from the Introduction to the Lineamenta of the 13th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will meet next year to discuss the "New Evangelization".

***

The transmission of the faith is never an individual, isolated undertaking, but a communal, ecclesial event. It must not consider responses as a matter of researching an effective plan of communication and even less analytically concentrating on the hearers, for example, the young. Instead, these responses must be done as something which concerns the one called to perform this spiritual work. It must become what the Church is by her nature. In this way, the matter is placed in context and treated correctly and not extrinsically, namely, by placing at the centre of discussion the entire Church in all she is and all she does. Perhaps in this way the problem of unfruitfulness in evangelization and catechesis today can be seen as an ecclesiological problem which concerns the Church's capacity, more or less, of becoming a real community, a true fraternity and a living body, and not a mechanical thing or enterprise.

"The pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature." This statement from the Second Vatican Council summarizes the Church's Tradition in a simple and complete way. The Church is missionary, because she finds her origin in the mission of Jesus Christ and the mission of the Holy Spirit, according to the plan of God the Father. Furthermore, the Church is missionary, because she returns and relives her beginnings by proclaiming and witnessing to this revelation of God and by gathering together the scattered People of God, so that in this way she might fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah which the Church Fathers applied to her: "Spread your tent, extend the curtain of your dwelling without saving, lengthen the cord, strengthen your poles, so that you might be widened to the right and to the left and your descendants will possess nations, will populate once deserted cities" (Is 54:2, 3).

***

We are living in a particularly significant, historic moment of change, of tension and of a loss of equilibrium and points of reference. These times are increasingly forcing us to live immersed in the present and in passing things which make it increasingly difficult for us to listen, to transmit an appreciation for the past and to share values on which to build the future for new generations. In this context, the Christian presence and the work of the Church's institutions are not easily perceived and, at times, are even looked upon with great reservation. In the last decades, repeated criticism has been levelled at the Church, Christians and the God we proclaim. Consequently, evangelization is facing new challenges which are putting accepted practices in question and are weakening customary, well-established ways of doing things. In a word, the situation is requiring the Church to consider, in an entirely new way, how she proclaims and transmits the faith. The Church, nevertheless, is not approaching these challenges totally unprepared. She has at her disposal the fruits of former assemblies of the Synod of Bishops which were specifically dedicated to the topic of the proclamation and transmission of the faith, in particular, the Apostolic Exhortations Evangelii nuntiandi and Catechesi tradendae. In the two related synodal assemblies, the Church lived a significant moment of self-evaluation and revitalization of her mandate to evangelize.

31 comments:

New Catholic said...

Yawn!...

Won't this Council ever die??? It's like a zombie! Perhaps that is what visited the Witch of Endor after all: the Spirit of Vatican II!

NC

Anonymous said...

If the ancient Faith is taught and lived in all its graced richness, "community and true fraternity" will inexorably follow. When the Church's main priority is to talk about those existential items, we get the post-conciliar monstrosity we have today.

We have collapsed the Faith into the Second Great Commandment, and pretty much ignored the First.

Giles

shane said...

I suspect the Catholic Church in the west is finished. Two possible factors that could drastically change that are: acute famine or another world war - both of which strike me as improbable, though far from impossible.

The world can change very rapidly - and so can the Church. If you took an average Catholic from 1950 and teleported him in time 20 years later he would barely recognize the place. What has been destroyed can just can easily be built back up again (at least with God's grace).

Vatican II spoke to the Europe (for 'Europe' read France and Germany) that emerged from the Second World War. When the Conciliar fathers assembled in 1962, the most powerful country in the world had just elected a Catholic president, and the Church had carved out a substantial social niche for itself in de Gaulle's France and Adenauer's Germany. The Church's deadliest and most powerful enemy, Atheistic Communism, was undergoing a major crisis of confidence following Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin in 1957, with hitherto powerful CPs throughout Europe suffering major losses in membership. Christian Democrat parties had governed most of western Europe since the war.

That Europe has now disintegrated. The 1968 student revolts finished what was left of it. The 'revolutionary left' of the 1960s is the establishment of today. Everywhere you look you see them. But Benedict XVI is still living in a time warp. Vatican II, as a pastoral/teaching council, makes sense when put in its historic context, but its cosy assumptions have no relevance to our much harsher era. The best thing would be to forget it ever happened.

Joe B said...

"... the situation is requiring the Church to consider, in an entirely new way, how she proclaims and transmits the faith."

"The Church, nevertheless, ... has at her disposal the fruits of former assemblies of the Synod of Bishops which were specifically dedicated to the topic of the proclamation and transmission of the faith ..."

A committee document for sure. One committee submits the first sentence, another the second, and both make it in so everybody gets credentialed.

Anonymous said...

The Council documents were constructed based on the general thesis (assumptions?) that the Church was strong and secular society would be a willing, supportive partner in the material and spiritual reconstruction of war torn Europe.

Obviously, this was not the case. The documents were built on sandy soil. Instead of constructive engagement with secular culture, civil society chose to push aside the Church. Many inside the Church were convinced that the gospel can be replaced by ambiguous secular ideologies, good intentions. The Council propositions need to be revisited before successful evangelisation is possible.

David said...

I'm shocked by all you 'little popes' daring to refer to your own experience regarding to the 'decline of the Church' the non-oracular nature of the documents of Vatican II. Don't you know that truth is determined by the fiat of those with sufficient ecclesiastical power?

Father G said...

"In a word, the situation is requiring the Church to consider, in an entirely new way, how she proclaims and transmits the faith"

Hey wait a sec...I thought Vat II was supposed to take care of this?!

Oh...er..never mind...

Henry said...

"I suspect the Catholic Church in the west is finished."

Well, maybe in the west of Europe. In many parts of the U.S--especially the sunnier parts--the Church is vigorous and dynamic, standing room only at many Masses, lots of vocations (those of the last decade very solid and faithful), seminary enrollment increasing new churches being built, etc.

Which, unfortunately is far from saying that faith and liturgy are is as good shape as the raw statistics. We've still got to put the spirit of Vatican II behind us. This will only happen as priests ordained in this millenium move up to take over as pastors and bishops.

Jacob said...

"Consequently, evangelization is facing new challenges which are putting accepted practices in question and are weakening customary, well-established ways of doing things. In a word, the situation is requiring the Church to consider, in an entirely new way, how she proclaims and transmits the faith."

If this quote refers to the ways and means used in the last forty years that have proven to be failures, then yes, I agree wholeheartedly with its content.

Jordanes551 said...

"In a word, the situation is requiring the Church to consider, in an entirely new way, how she proclaims and transmits the faith."

No, not an "entirely new way." If She really did that, She would no longer be Herself.

M. A. said...

"Perhaps...the problem of unfruitfulness in evangelization and catechesis today can be seen as an ecclesiological problem which concerns the Church's capacity.. of becoming a real community, a true fraternity and a living body, and not a mechanical thing or enterprise.
____________________


Hogwash, plain and simple. It is painful reading "stuff" like this. I could not get myself to finish reading.

Just order some Baltimore Catechisms, Spirago's catechisms, etc. and start teaching the children! But will they do this? HA!

The "pilgrim" church is wimpy and incapable of evangelization.

Gideon Ertner said...

This tendency that everything has to be 'new' in order to have quality is really getting on my nerves. Funnily enough it is in stark contrast to the quite powerful 'retro' trend in secular society.

I thought the vision of Vatican II was to 'go back to the sources'? Apparently that's old-fashioned now. Because of Vatican II. Somehow.

Anonymous said...

Vatican II Eurobabble gobbledygook.

Dominicans on street corners preaching purgatory, heaven, hell, and the love of God in Christ and Him Crucified.

That will resurrect the corpse of Christendom - that, and nothing else.

~ Belloc

Vobiscumator said...

David,

Magisterial truth covers all 2,000 years, not just the past 50 years. Revulsion over certain Second Vatican Council documents does not come from me acting as my own mini-pope but from the clear, basic objective observation that there are discontinuities with centuries of authoritative Catholic thought.

If you want to claim that my observations here are inaccurate, I invite you to explain how in full, comprehensive theological detail.

LeonG said...

It has to be understood definitively that when the post-conciliar establishment talk about "new" and "evangelisation" and again more so "new evangelisation" they mean the destruction of tradition; protestantisation of what remains; the secularisation of society together with spiritual minimalism.
There is absolutely nothing Roman Catholic about the post-conciliar church. It has become an institution of corruption and indifference.

Anonymous said...

Vobis,

I think David's remarks were uttered "tongue-in-cheek."

Pascendi said...

Gaudium et Spes became outdated before the ink really became dry. The mid/late sixties upheavals (in reality "act two" of the "roaring twenties") completely sidelined a "fifties" approach to social issues.

Anonymous said...

The fundamental problem that must be addressed before we can have become successful again in evangelizing the world is regaining our Catholic identity. Our liturgy, our prayer, our buildings, our lives, etc. must be identifiably Catholic. The heretics and iconoclasts of the previous decades have done everything in their power to destroy anything distinctively Catholic.

Anonymous said...

How does the Church go about doing what she does in desolate cities when events such as the former Assisi gatherings saw Crucifixes removed from walls and everyone praying together? Is there not one true faith? Or is this only proclaimed behind closed doors to members who are already inside the Catholic Faith?

Brian said...

the situation is requiring the Church to consider, in an entirely new way, how she proclaims and transmits the faith.

We can be sure of one thing. The New Evangelism will not include outmoded sermons like that preached to the Jews by our first Pope on the day of Pentecost:

"Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you, by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him, in the midst of you, as you also know: This same being delivered up, by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you by the hands of wicked men have crucified and slain . . . Therefore let all the house of Israel know most certainly, that God hath made both Lord and Christ, this same Jesus, whom you have crucified. Now when they had heard these things, they had compunction in their heart, and said to Peter, and to the rest of the apostles: What shall we do, men and brethren? But Peter said to them: Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are far off, whomsoever the Lord our God shall call." Acts 2:22-39

Anonymous said...

The Post- Vatican II Church, has its own identity in these - words, words, words, meandering all over the place, "signifying nothing".

How about "Convert and beleive in Jesus Christ or you are doomed!"

That would wake them (us all!) up in the morning! (and get a few of us flung into prison, no doubt!)
What a tragedy that the institutional Church seems to be ashamed of Our Lord and Saviour! How can they get away with this politcally correct rubbish? I mean, it's so sappy! What happened to preaching about getting all fired up with Love for Our Lord and giving one's life for the Faith? You are right NEW CATHOLIC - what a cracking bore - yawn!

Barbara

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Cathedrals and Churches that used to Praise The Almighty
God,now these same churches are temples of the god mammon.

Lord Jesus have mercy on us we have turn away from you.

Save those who are still faithful to YOU!

LORD JESUS COME,
WE PERISH!

Anonymous said...

Zzzzzzz...

Sorry, I nodded off somewhere into the second paragraph.

Pablum filler speeches like this just reepmhasize the fact that he doesn't get it and we are all screwed.

It's as if our bus broke down and the bus driver is sitting outside having a cup of tea waxing philosophic with idiots on the nature of bus break downs, when all he has to do is fix the damn bus.

David said...

In a word, the situation is requiring the Church to consider, in an entirely new way, how she proclaims and transmits the faith.

Erm, what, again?

Isn't that what Vatican II was meant to do?

Anonymous said...

"In a word, the situation is requiring the Church to consider, in an entirely new way, how she proclaims and transmits the faith."

That's more than a word.

Proclaiming and transmitting the faith in "new ways" has resulted in a mixture of the faith with modernity and trying to cater to those who hold enlightenment errors.

The remedy is to teach the faith with crystal clear clarity using time tested means. There is no such things as "modern man" and if you try to "adapt" the Faith and water it down to placate "modern man" of 1960, you are then out of date to "evangelize" modern man in 2010. It is a losing game.

Concentrate efforts on eternal truths and be a SIGN OF CONTRADICTION to the agnostic, secular humanist world. Don't try to hide the faith under reams of sleep inducing verbiage meant to try to pacify anti-Catholic intellectual elites, while walking a tightrope so as not to contradict Catholic principles.

The Post-Conciliar Popes are the Neville Chamberlains of our time, trying to desperately to stave off the inevitable battle between Truth and lies by continually conducting a policy of appeasement to monstrous enemies, naively thinking they will be flattered by our good will and lay down their arms.

Neal said...

Jordanes wrote, "No, not an "entirely new way." If She really did that, She would no longer be Herself."

I'm not sure this is so. It seems they are suggesting that a new method of evangelization needs to be found to match the needs of modern man. I don't see anything erroneous in this statement. They are discussing a change to the means of propagation of Faith, not to the substance of the Faith or the Sacraments. It also seems to me that people really are different now than they were, due at least in part to the way they have adapted to the various technologies that have been introduced. For example, a book was published a year ago about how internet use has changed the way people think and reason. Why not adapt to suit this?

The real reason for scepticism is not the statement itself but its various composers, who have shown themselves incredibly inept and failure-prone. The acceptance of the probability of failure, which appears to extend to the papacy, is a great obstacle to the propagation of Faith today.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing how some ecclesiastical figures love to devout hundreds of pages about how new, how renovated, how creative, and how energetic this New Evangelization should be, but then what is seen on the spot are more and more ecumenical celebrations and common prayers with other religions...?
M.M.

Jordanes551 said...

Neal, think about what the words "ENTIRELY NEW" mean. If the evangelisation is done an entirely new way, that means NONE of the methods used for the past 2,000 years may ever be used again. I suspect the Holy Father didn't mean that, but that is precisely what his words mean.

"Entirely new way" is hyperbole at best.

Neal said...

Fair enough, Jordanes, but strictly speaking, the statement says that the Church is considering in a new way the methods of evangelization, not new ways of evangelization. I don't see anything about discontinuing past methods, though it is true their effectiveness is questioned. I personally welcome the idea of the Church rethinking its approach; it is approaching a critical moment in its history, facing a massive reduction in its numbers and influence in the West, with a likelihood that the rest of the world will follow. If a St. Pius X was leading this effort, we would all be bright with hope. The real problem, as I see it, is that the Church will not consider any worthwhile ideas, though perhaps I shall be proven wrong.

Patrick said...

This is more or less what Fr. Kockerols(appointed auxiliary bishop of Mechlin-Brussels just last month) had in mind with Couvent Sainte-Anne in Brussels:
http://www.osservatore-vaticano.org/episcopats-locaux/les-nouveaux-auxiliaires-de-malines-7
Fortunately the Institute of Christ the King managed to outmanoeuver him and to purchase the chapel: http://www.summorum-pontificum.fr/non-classe/un-nouvel-apostolat-pour-licrsp

However, it s significant that the new auxiliary Bishop for Brussels is the very man who tried at all costs to have Couvent Saint-Anne be converted into a (secular)hospital although no less that 5 religious and priestly communities and institutes were interested. This gives a taste of the kind "new evangelization" that can be expected from Archbishop Léonard and Cardinal Ouellet...

Anonymous said...

"It seems they are suggesting that a new method of evangelization needs to be found to match the needs of modern man."
Yea, new methods of modernism! To match the needs of modern man?
Please expand on what are those needs of modern man different from 1960, 1900 or anytime.
But wait:... modern man does not believe in God any longer but only in the internet, science, enjoying life. Now I can understand, no need to sacrifice and make penitence(a word with no meaning nowadays), so maybe that makes sense.