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The New Evangelization

The Year of Faith, which the Holy Father Benedict XVI announced in October 2011, is now a reality. The whole Church has begun a time of special grace during which all the faithful have been invited to rediscover the beauty of Revelation, and to let ourselves be transformed by the power of faith.

On various occasions, Benedict XVI has pointed to the timeliness of the Year of Faith: ‘Whereas in the past it was possible to recognize a unitary cultural matrix, broadly accepted in its appeal to the content of the faith and the values inspired by it, today this no longer seems to be the case in large swathes of society, because of a profound crisis of faith that has affected many people.” [1]

Not a few people would like to reduce Christianity to a teaching acceptable in some of its elements—fraternity, concern for the poor, etc.—but antiquated in others given the mindset of people today. On the other hand, there are many people—including those who express skepticism regarding Christianity—who are sincerely seeking an answer to the question about the meaning of their life. At times that yearning can lead to a religion made more or less to one’s own measure; in other cases, people give up trying to find an answer. But whatever the case, all human beings seek happiness and cannot quench the thirst for God in the soul. For as St. Augustine wrote, “you have created us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you” (Confessions, 1, 1, 1.).

Therefore this panorama, far from leading to discouragement, should spur us to lend our strength to the task of a new evangelization in order to present to people the Gospel in all its fullness. Our faith not only helps people recognize the questions they harbor in their heart, but offers them a truth that surpasses their deepest expectations.

God “in his love, through the work of the Holy Spirit, creates in us the necessary conditions so that we can recognize his Word.” [2] But recognizing God’s Word requires that first it be known: how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? (Rom 10:14-15).

The Year of Faith is a spur to evangelization, as Bishop Javier Echevarría stresses in his lengthy pastoral letter of September 29, 2012, which is reproduced in this issue of Romana. God is counting on each of the faithful to help those around them to get to know the faith in its fullness, so that they discover the strength of a life that lets itself be guided by the light of the Christian message. These months will thus be turned into an opportunity for personal conversion and apostolate: an opportunity to confront the future more closely united to Christ, letting ourselves be guided in everything by his will. This is what the first Christians did: naturally, without any outward display, by the consistency between their faith and their deeds, they changed the pagan world. [3]

In striving to go more deeply into the riches of Catholic doctrine, Benedict XVI has pointed to two great treasures: the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (“a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning” [4]) and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If we want to be authentic witnesses to the faith, we need to know it and live it integrally. Otherwise, especially in today’s world, it is easy to fall into “a certain syncretism and religious relativism, blurring the truths to believe in as well as the salvific uniqueness of Christianity.” [5]

The Pope is dedicating his Wednesday audiences to explaining the core principles of our faith, showing us that they are truths we should base our life on. Reading the content of those addresses is a specific way to “let these truths of faith fill our soul until they change our life,” [6] as well as providing us with opportunities and topics of conversation with others. The words of the Roman Pontiff will thus be for us a marvelous guide for evangelization in the contemporary world.

[1] Benedict XVI, Motu proprioPorta fidei,” October 11, 2011, no. 2.

[2] Benedict XVI, Audience, October 17, 2012.

[3] See Bishop Javier Echevarría, Letter, September 29, 2012, no. 11.

[4] Benedict XVI, Motu proprioPorta fidei”, October 11, 2011, no. 5, citing Blessed John Paul II, Apost. Letter Novo millennio ineunte, January 6, 2001, no. 57.

[5] Benedict XVI, Audience, October 17, 2012.

[6]Christ Is Passing By, no. 144.

Romana, No. 55, July-December 2012, pag. 208-209.