Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Evangelization or Re-Evangelization?

Did you ever notice that sometimes the "New Evangelization" feels more like a "Re-Evangelization"?  Maybe it's just me, maybe I am not quite up to speed on what the New Evangelization really is, but sometimes it does seem to me like much of the content floating around out there is more about re-evangelizing the faithful and re-explaining things to those outside the Church.

When I view the newsfeeds and blogs, many focus very much on explaining the basics that I, being an over-zealous and brash convert to the faith, thought everyone already knew.  I feel like I am inadvertently doing it too - do people really not know any saints beyond St. Christopher and Bl. Mother Teresa?  Do people actually refrain from studying their faith?  Do people really need to be reminded that mortal sin is a serious deal?

Perhaps the New Evangelization is a clean-up crew, in a sense, for all the heresy and bizarre phenomena that occurred in relation to the "spirit of Vatican II" movement?  It sometimes seems to function that way.

To be sure, things like this always make my head spin - believe me, I am not trying to be egotistical or condescending, though it may come off like that I`m sure.  I just am wondering if this New Evangelization movement is actually a way to re-teach the faithful, to reawaken them to their faith and what they once professed to believe, but have since drifted away from - notice, I say "drifted", not "fallen".  Maybe it's a way to re-kindle the fire that was lost.

One thing I learned in my very long time spent in RCIA was that not everyone is at the same level.  Some barely knew who Jesus was at all, and some I have met are in heady discussions over patristic theology.  Some come from anti-Christian backgrounds, some don't, some have never even heard of any Church history beyond the last 50 years.  This is simply the way it is, and no one, least of all myself, should judge it.  I wasn't born reading Aquinas.

But I still wonder how it is that such basic things as the bare rudimentary understandings surrounding the Holy Sacraments need to be reiterated to Catholics like it was a newfangled thing - has catechesis been that bad in the past few decades?  This view, I feel, is precisely because of my dewy-eyed view of the Church as just full to the brim with theologians, saints, and pious Christians all living their faith out with zeal.  I am young(ish) and headstrong...forgive me.  The Church, as they say, is a hospital for sinners, not a house for saints.

Regardless, I suppose that maybe this is what the New Evangelization is about - getting out there with one's words and writings, and spreading the Gospel not only to those who do not believe it, but to those within the Church who find it hard to care about it anymore.  I was told I was part of this movement somehow - this little blog of writings by a wretch and a sinner.  It frightens me to think that someone is reading this and that I might be incredibly wrong, and I might somehow inadvertently lead someone off the Royal Road by accident (and this too, is pride).  I am merely a beggar on the side of it - take my words for what they are worth.

So what do you think?  Is the New Evangelization really the Re-Evangelization?  Are participants in this movement really just re-evangelizing and teaching the faith to their fellow Catholics?  Or are we shining a light, the LIGHT, into the world of darkness that surrounds us?  I think it should be both.

The world is in desperate need of this light.  Let us, no matter who we may be, reflect it in truth and charity.


  1. Dare I say, any evangelism is good as long as it is teaching the truth? Whether it falls on deaf ears or wayward ears, it can't hurt. In either case, it can light a candle which may show the path to the one true faith or it will remind us all why we are Catholic in the first place. Then God will do the rest.

  2. Yes, I wrote recently on the aim of the New Evangelization, here: The trouble with what I have seen of those performing the 'new evangelization' is that there is very little Gospel message in it. Catechesis is NOT the same thing as evangelism. Catechesis IS very important, don't get me wrong. But we were called to a "New Evangelization" for a very fundamental reason and we need to get on with it. Lots more posts on this topic over at our blog, if you care to look.

  3. I assume you're being facetious to make a point. The new evangelization is exactly a re-evangelization.

    "Are participants in this movement really just re-evangelizing and teaching the faith to their fellow Catholics? "

    Yes. When in the western Europe and The US you have less than 25% of Catholics attending mass weekly you need to re-evangelize fellow Catholics.

    The myriad distractions, laziness, and short attention span of the layity coupled with the complacency, negligence and institutional self absorption of too many priests and bishops led us to the admittedly ridiculuous situation of having to evangelize in places that have been Christian for centuries.

    1. Hi Ted,
      Well...I am new. Four years of intense study and conversion, but only have been a Catholic since April - so, I am surprised still at the state of the laity. It's brutal. I thought, in all honesty, the best, and found out the worst in some ways.
      I was being facetious to an extent - I still cannot get over how some think the Eucharist is just a symbol, or how confession is somehow a medieval concept, or whatever else. It's rather saddening. But it seems every century has its problems.

      Forgive my arrogance.


  4. It is precisely the emphasis on re-evangelization that makes me not very interested in the new evangelization. I want to share truth and love and joy with people who don't know Christ and/or who have never been part of the Catholic Church. We're never going to fulfill the Great Commission by only ministering to people who are already in the Church.