Like many, my mind when kablooey when the term “New Evangelization” popped back into the vernacular a year or so ago. What does it mean? How do we “do it”? And why?
Since Vatican II, a renewal of the evangelizing charism has been a part of the Church’s agenda, although somewhat on the back burner. But now evangelization has moved up to the forefront of Church initiatives—sometimes ideas, like seeds, need to lie dormant for a while to blossom—and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Nowhere was this more clear than at the recent Mid-Atlantic Congress, held last week in Baltimore. The conference is basically a gathering of church people—catechists, pastors, liturgists, pastoral ministers, musicians, and the like—people who serve the Church in a direct and professional way.
Here I learned that at its heart, evangelization is discipleship—walking in the way of Jesus. There are many ways to evangelize and many earmarks of its practice, but essentially evangelization is living out what we believe as Catholic Christian people.
That’s why I’m so excited about Allan F. Wright’s new book, Jesus the Evangelist. Allan’s the dean of evangelization for the Diocese of Paterson, N.J., and a Scripture scholar. His book marries those two passions and shows us how evangelization is done according to Jesus. All of a sudden, that big, scary word—evangelization—makes sense.
Once you finish Allan’s book, you’re going to want to read more, so I recommend the Catholic Update Guide to the New Evangelization. It’s an easy read—only 64 pages—but it’s full of good, solid stuff about the who, what, when, where, why, and how of this new/old movement.
You don’t have to go door to door, or quote Scripture at every opportunity, or strong-arm friends into coming to your church; all you really have to do is be the best Catholic you can be and lead by your example of Christian faith and values. That’s the message at the heart of the New Evangelization.
Photo credit: Nancy Bauer