Monday 22 February 2010

Loud and clear

For the new evangelization to become a reality, laypeople have to step up. This proclamation was made by Archbishop José Gomez of San Antonio, Texas, in a pastoral letter and reported by Zenit.
"The proclamation of Christ is not an option or an obligation reserved for bishops, priests, deacons and religious. It is the duty of every believer". He said that evangelization begins "in the heart that has been evangelized, the heart that has heard the Good News and been converted. We cannot be silent about what we have seen and heard and felt ... We cannot help but to proclaim and testify to the great difference that Jesus Christ has made in our lives." Evangelization is a duty, but it is a "duty of delight, a duty we carry out with joy and thanksgiving. We want the world, beginning with those nearest to us, to share in what we have been given -- the free gift of God’s grace and the joy that comes with knowing the truth that sets us free," The duty to proclaim Christ falls upon every member of the Church, he recalled. But, he said, his pastoral letter is addressed particularly to the laity."I want to speak especially to you who live out your faith in the midst of the world and all its secular affairs ... As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, lay people are given the 'duty ... to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth. This duty is all the more pressing when it is only through them that men can hear the Gospel and know Christ.'" He noted how laypeople have been fundamental for the process of evangelization since the very beginning of the Church. "The primary apostolate of lay people, since the early Church, has always been to spread and defend the faith among their families and neighbours and to bring the teachings of Christ to bear on the issues facing their communities". Lay believers, he said, have a "priestly soul," with a primary mission in the world, "not inside the sanctuary of the church or inside a Church office. Your first duty," he stated, "remains to heed the commission every one of us receives at the end of every Mass -- to go out into the world to love and serve our Lord." Nourished by the gift of his Body and Blood, you are called to bear witness to this gift by making your lives a form of worship to God. Your evangelization must always be profoundly ecclesial and intensely Eucharistic. You are calling people to Christ and to his Church -- and to the heart of the Church, which is the Eucharist." He urged the faithful to have a renewed awareness of their priestly souls and to "seek to serve God and your brothers and sisters every day, through all that you do and say, through the way that you live your life. People respond more to example than to 'teaching,'" he acknowledged. "Testify to your faith through your daily habits and actions. You will find that your witness to the Christian life will be attractive to others and will afford you regular chances to talk about the 'source' of your happiness in Jesus Christ and your Catholic faith."

"To my mind the deepest problem we face is the 'secularization' ... The tendency under secularism is to reduce religious identity to a kind of 'cultural Catholicism.' " Lay evangelizers must "be convinced of the truth that the Apostles knew, that everyone in some way is searching for Christ.""People used to seek out the Apostles and say to them: 'We wish to see Jesus,' ... The men and women of today still want to see Jesus. You are the disciples they will come to with their questions and doubts, interests and needs. You are the ones who must lead them to our Lord."
This is the vision for the Church in the UK also. Let us embrace it and make it known.


Dorothy B said...

Thank you for this, Father.

One of the simplest ways for a woman to give witness is to wear a cross: not as jewellery, but as a discreet way of fulfilling the duty to be ready to give an account of the hope that is in us. The state seems to regard its wearing as optional and therefore bannable. In a sense it is optional; and yet we have that mandate of our Lord to be apostles in our daily lives. There has to be some way of enabling others to make a connection between the good life a person leads and the Christian faith that inspires him or her to do so. By one means or another, by something visible or by our words, we have to give some indication of our Catholic faith, for the benefit of those we meet. In these strange and disturbing times we are living through, this is something of a challenge.

Fr Richard Aladics said...

Archbishop Gomez is to take over from Cardinal Mahony as Archbishop of Los Angeles. This is good news indeed.