Week 16, Saturday. Evangelizing Thought of the Day (ETD)

DAILY SEQUENTIAL EXCERPTS from The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith – Instrumentum Laboris:

68. The responses understood the sectors for what they are: signs of actual change which were seen as the context for the development of our religious experiences. Precisely for this reason, the changes in these sectors need to be taken up and purified, through a process of discernment, in their encountering and experiencing the Christian faith. Examining these sectors permits a critical reading of the way of life, the thinking and the discourses which they espouse and can serve as a self-examination which Christians are called upon to do, to see if the manner of life and the pastoral activity of Christian communities are, in fact, suited to the task and avoiding inactivity by attentively considering the future. Many particular Churches expect the Synod to be an opportune time to continue this discernment. 69. Various responses to the Lineamenta have attempted to identify the reasons for the decline in Christian practice by many of the Church's faithful, a true "silent apostasy", which would leave the Church in a position of not being able to respond adequately and convincingly to the challenges described in these sectors. In this regard, they recount a weakening in the faith of believers, a lack of personal involvement and experience in the transmission of the faith and insufficient spiritual guidance for the faithful in the process of their formative, intellectual and professional training. Many lament the excessive bureaucratic character of ecclesiastical structures, perceived as far removed from the average person and his everyday concerns, which causes a reduction in the dynamism of ecclesial communities, the loss of enthusiasm at its roots and a decline in missionary zeal. Some responses complained of the excessively formal character of liturgical celebrations, an almost routine celebration of rituals and the lack of a deep spiritual experience, which turn people away instead of attracting them. Despite the counter-witness of some of the Church's members (unfaithfulness in one's vocation, scandals, little sensitivity to the problems of everyday people and the world today), we are not to underestimate the "mysterium iniquitatis" (2 Thess 2:7), the war which the Dragon waged on the rest of the offspring of the Woman, on "those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus" (Rev 12:17). An objective evaluation of the situation must always consider the mystery of human freedom, a gift from God, which a person is free to use, even in a mistaken way, to rebel against God and to turn his back on the Church.
The new evangelization should seek to orientate every man and woman's human freedom towards God, who is the source of truth, goodness and beauty. Renewal in faith should help people overcome the previously mentioned obstacles to an authentic Christian life which is patterned according to the will of God, as expressed in the commandment to love God and neighbor (cf. Mk 12:33). (Instrumentum Laboris, “Chapter 2: Time for a New Evangelization,” paragraph 68-69)

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God! (Psalm 84:2, Mass).

Show favor, O Lord, to Your servants
and mercifully increase the gifts of Your grace,
that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity,
they may be ever watchful in keeping Your commands.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.

The next section of this chapter, “Christians Within These Sectors,” considers specifically the responsibility of each Christian as well as the Christian community in living the Kingdom of God within the previously examined sectors of life. Once again, the calls to discernment and to conversion are essential to provide an authentic response to life in these arenas. It is easy to point fingers of blame elsewhere and miss the work that needs to be done ‘in our backyard (or front yard for that matter!).’ Proper discernment and ongoing daily conversion of heart, mind and body not only equips 1 and all for the tasks of evangelization uniquely entrusted to each, but also insures proper action in addressing the needs of the times.
Paragraph 69 is a gem, sadly, in that it concisely expresses some of the principle reasons why people have left the practice of the Faith: from bureaucracy to scandal and everything (and everyone) in between. The Instrumentum Laboris expresses once again that in order to respond genuinely to the tasks posed by the sectors of human living, we must permit the Spirit to get our lives – individually and ecclesiastically – in order. Only then will be have the strength and credibility to be agents of change for the healing and building up of the Kingdom of God in our midst.
  • The summary causes of people leaving the practice of the Faith in paragraph 69 leave many with an overwhelming feeling that I as an individual believer can do nothing. Since each has been initiation into the Mysteries of Faith, each is equipped with the necessary talents, skills and abilities given as gifted-grace by the Holy Spirit. What graces of talent, time and treasury have you been given to engage the work of the New Evangelization?

1 comment:

  1. The greatest grace is to know that I can do nothing. Time, talent and treasure only become apparent in response to a need. The conversation between Jesus and Ananias in the Acts of the Apostles is must reading. Jesus, himself, made the initial proclamation to Saul but then called upon Ananias to share the gifted grace that was given to him to help Saul become Paul. The question we should ask ourselves is are we ready to be another Ananias to those Jesus calls us to serve knowing that the time, talent and treasure needed will be given.