Sunday, October 25, 2015

New Evangelization: Fire and Light

"The New Evangelization calls each of us to deepen our faith, believe in the Gospel message and go forth to proclaim the Gospel. The focus of the New Evangelization calls all Catholics to be evangelized and then go forth to evangelize...."
("New Evangelization," USCCB1)
In a way, the "new" evangelization isn't new. Matthew 28:19 means the same thing now that it did two millennia ago.

But it isn't the first, or the 11th, century any more. We're in the 21st, and the world is changing.

This isn't a new situation:
"...the world is on fire. Men try to condemn Christ once again, as it were, for they bring a thousand false witnesses against him. They would raze his Church to the ground.... No, my sisters, this is no time to treat with God for things of little importance...."
(Camino de perfección, 1, 5; St. Teresa of Avila; quoted by Benedict XVI on July 16, 2012)1)
St. Teresa of Avila wrote Camino de perfección around the middle of the 16th century.

The 20th century and the first 15 years of the 21st haven't been 'just like' 16th century Europe's experience: but I think there are some parallels — Violence in the Middle East and Europe, social and political unrest, new military and information technology.

Machiavelli's The Prince reflected, at least, the 'principles be hanged: I'll get what I want' political attitude that's still with us.

The Protestant Reformation let northern princes set up their own state-operated churches, like Henry VIII's Church of England. The Münster Rebellion was, arguably, an unsuccessful private-sector effort to do the same thing on a local scale.

Remarkably, "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium" wasn't banned until six decades after its publication. As Grace Hopper said, "humans are allergic to change." I've discussed Copernicus and newfangled ideas before. A lot. (February 20, 2015; January 9, 2015; July 18, 2014)

Getting back to 'today,' we've gone from zeppelins and neon lights to the Internet and industrial robots in a few generations. Europeans slaughtered each other in wholesale lots, twice, abandoned their empires, and are trying to cooperate for a change.

The United Nations has lasted seven decades, with 193 members and two observer states.

I don't think the UN is the "competent and sufficiently powerful authority at the international level" that Bl. Pope Paul VI mentioned in "Gaudium et spes," but it's a start. (September 27, 2015; May 1, 2015; August 24, 2014)

St. Teresa of Avila: Reform, Yes; "Going Back," No

Anxiety comes easily in times when society is in upheaval.

I'm cautiously optimistic, though, about the future. That's partly because I think today's society should change. The trick is pushing change in a good direction.

A little over three years ago, Benedict XVI talked about St. Teresa of Avila's era: and how she can be a role model for Catholics today.
"...In promoting a 'radical return' to a more austere form of Carmelite life, St. Teresa sought 'to create a form of life which favored a personal encounter with the Lord,' the Pope explained.

"Rather than harking back to the past, however, St. Teresa presented 'a new way of being Carmelite' to 'a world which was also new,' Pope Benedict observed. He quoted the Spanish saint's own writings to her religious sisters in which she summed up the 'difficult times' in which they lived.

" 'The world is on fire,' wrote St. Teresa of post-Reformation Europe. 'Men try to condemn Christ once again. They would raze His Church to the ground. No, my sisters, this is no time to treat with God for things of little importance.'

" 'Does this luminous and engaging call, written more than four centuries ago by the mystic saint, not sound familiar in our own times?' asked Pope Benedict in response...."
(David Kerr, CNA/EWTN News (July 16, 2012))
If I thought we had a perfect society in the 'good old days' before 1954, 1933, 1848, or some other imagined golden age, I'd be protesting rock music, promoting prohibition, or trying to keep my wife from voting.

Let's remember what "reform" means: "to improve by alteration, correction of error, or removal of defects; put into a better form or condition." (

We can't go back to the 'good old days,' which is just as well. We had problems then, too, and I'm drifting off-topic: which assumes I had a topic in mind to begin with.

Let's see: "the world is on fire," Münster Rebellion, zeppelins. Right. Got it.

Priorities and Love

I'm a Catholic layman, so I'm part of the Church's front line, permeating "social, political, and economic realities with the demands of Christian doctrine and life." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 899)

I'm Catholic, though, so that doesn't mean trying to ram my subculture's preferences and customs down everyone's throat. (August 30, 2015; September 7, 2014)

My top priority is knowing and loving God. (Catechism, 1)

I'm also expected to pass on the best news we've ever had: God loves us and wants to adopt us. All of us. (John 3:17; Romans 8:15; Ephesians 1:3-5; Catechism, 1-3, 52, 1825)

As an adopted child of God, I'm expected to reflect God's qualities: which is pretty much the opposite of easy. (Catechism, 339, 355, 369-370, 386-409)

If I take God, and my faith, seriously, I'll —

Love God, and love my neighbor. (Matthew 5:43-44; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-30; Catechism, 1825)

See everybody as my neighbor. (Matthew 5:43-44; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-30; Catechism, 1825)

Treat others as I want to be treated. (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31; Catechism, 1789)

As I've said before, it's simple: not easy. (October 12, 2014)

"The Light Shines in the Darkness"

The Catholic Church is old: ancient. For two millennia, we've had the same basic message: Jesus stopped being dead. Heaven is open to us. (John 20; Catechism, 638-655, 1026)

This is a big deal.
"1 2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

"He was in the beginning with God.

"3 All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be

"through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;

"4 the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
(John 1:1-5)
'Ancient' and 'consistent' isn't the same as 'decrepit' and 'outdated.' Our basic message hasn't changed. How we present it hasn't stopped changing. (May 31, 2015)

Benedict XVI said we're supposed to use "...methods free from inertia...." I think he's right.
"...In the 'exhilarating task' of the New Evangelization, he said, the example of St. Teresa should inspire all Christians because she 'evangelized unhesitatingly, showing tireless ardor, employing methods free from inertia and using expressions bathed in light.'

" 'This remains important in the current time,' said the Pope, 'when there is a pressing need for the baptized to renew their hearts through individual prayer in which, following the guidance of St. Teresa, they also focus on contemplation of Christ's blessed humanity as the only way to reach the glory of God.'"
(David Kerr, CNA/EWTN News)
I don't know how much "tireless ardor" I can manage, and I can't think of an expression "bathed in light" for wrapping up this post — so I'll repeat one of my favorite bits from the Bible.
"While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.

"They said, 'Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.' "
(Acts 1:10-11)
Two millennia later, we're still working, watching, and waiting. If we'd been following anyone else, we'd have given up long ago. But Jesus isn't anyone else. And that's another topic. Topics. (April 5, 2015; November 30, 2014; October 5, 2014)

Remembering what matters:

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.