Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Inspiring the New Evangelisation

I hope that the Pauline Year will be a time of inspiration for us as we look to take part in the New Evangelisation. The Apostle of the Gentiles had neither Blueprint nor the accumulated experience of the history of the Church's Mission to guide him; he was its forerunner, building the Church and the culture of the New Covenant upon the basis of his own openness to Christ.
"Not only do we ask ourselves, "Who was Paul?" Above all, we ask ourselves "Who is Paul?" "What is he saying to me?" At this hour of the beginning of the Pauline year that we are inaugurating ... " (Benedict XVI, 28.6.08)
Such a statement leads us to consider what the character of the Catholic should be today. This is an important appreciation to have at a time when, in England, we have experienced a general winding down of the Church in recent decades. I would like to make a number of observations about this; the first point that I would emphasise is that a Catholic in England today needs to have "the necessary critical apparatus". This is a phrase which I have coined and by which I mean that a Catholic today needs to be able to discern the presence of grace and be able to embrace it. This means being aware of the ending of the era of the Old Evangelisation in the Church and being aware that a new era is now beginning - the New Evangelisation. From the perspective of the Church in England this means turning the Church from being a Church of maintenance into being a Church of Mission.
The necessary critical apparatus then, means being aware of our life in relation to the Gospel and in relation to secular society; it involves the whole culture of our personal lives - the way we live. Is it a life in which we seek Christ or, as Fr Julian remarked in an earlier post, it is a "practical paganism". But it is not simply awareness, it involves making a response to either Christ or the world. This in turn means the way we build our lives upon a relationship with Christ in prayer and in the Sacraments. It also involves a certain approach to actively forming our lives either in conformity to grace or to the world. And it necessarily involves decisions by which we seek place our lives at the service of Christ in one way or another. All this presumes that in some way the Catholic today is hearing the Gospel and the call which the Church is making to us especially through John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
Having the necessary critical apparatus above all refers to my awareness, and how I seek to make myself aware. It speaks in a personal way about the individual Catholic today; that the New Evangelisation isn't something that may be happening to other people, no, it is the call which is being made to me. It tells me that I cannot be sufficient of myself, or rely upon culture, but that I must be open to God and to others, and seek to know what God is asking of me.
St Paul, pray for the Church in England and Wales.
I shall return to post on some of the inferences which I have made here and upon other practical facets of the New Evangelistion today.

1 comment:

bernadette said...

I would just like to whole-heartedley support what you have written there, Fr Richard.

I would like to add, also: SHIP SETS SAIL SOON - ALL THOSE WHO SEEK TO BOARD, DO SO NOW. REWARDS: BEYOND YOUR DREAMS.