New pope offers a lesson for 'new evangelization'

New pope offers a lesson for 'new evangelization'

 Pope Francis blesses the city and the world at Easter

Reading Pope Francis’ recent homilies and talks, I find myself wondering whether the Vatican’s “new evangelization” project might benefit from his simple, direct approach to questions of faith.

The new pope has an invitational way of presenting Christianity, illustrated well in his homily at the Easter vigil, when he spoke about Christ’s victory over death and sin, “over everything that crushes life and makes it less human.”

Like the women who found Christ’s empty tomb, he said, modern men and women should be willing to be surprised by God.

“How often does Love have to tell us: Why do you look for the living among the dead? Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness… and that is where death is,” the pope said.

“Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.”

In Vatican-speak, the “new evangelization” program involves a “renewed first proclamation of the Gospel,” and is designed in part to re-educate Catholics in the faith. In that sense, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which runs more than 800 pages, has been described as a “summary” of what Catholics want to communicate to others.

This approach has always struck me as Magisterium-heavy. I think most people respond better to spiritual promptings than encyclopedic arguments for faith, and the new pope seems to be tapping into that.

5 comments (Add your own)

1. Mark wrote:
Did you even listen to Benedict at all?

"What is God whispering to you?"

Sun, March 31, 2013 @ 10:37 AM

2. Cliff Borgerding wrote:
John I couldn't agree more!

Hopefully the church can learn that less is better. Length simply adds comfusion and complexity to our faith. Faith and our beliefs are not something we "scientifically prove." Keeping the message simple and meaningful in today's context is what people need.

Not that faith is not a complex experience but when you narrow it down to the basics it comes down to belief in God and desire to be the best we can be to ourselves and to others.

I think that is the basic message of Jesus both in his time on earth and today. We need to care for ourselves and those around us especially thoses less fortunate.

Happy Easter!

Sun, March 31, 2013 @ 10:52 AM

3. Deacon John M. Bresnahan wrote:
This is one of those cases where both/and should be respected. There are many ways to bring people to Christ. The criteria for which should be used in a given situation is which will "prepare the way for the Lord" for the person or people the Church is trying to evangelize. Sometimes emphasizing "spirituality" and spiritual promptings--or talking of personal spiritual experiences-- are called for. Sometimes arguments explaining or defending doctrines of the Faith will more readily reach some people--especially in our rationalistic age. Or maybe both--and other-- methodoligies should be combined. We must be sensitive to where people are at in their religious pilgrimage.
It seems to me the time is right for what Pope Francis is emphasizing. But that shouldn't lead to put-downs of other emphases.

Sun, March 31, 2013 @ 12:29 PM

4. Anna wrote:
Hi John:

I think Pope Francis' homilies ( both as the Pope and as a Cardinal ) are remarkable for presenting fairly complex events/themes in an entirely accessible manner, and I really like to read your reflections following each homily we hear. Just a quick query: Is the 'only Italian' stance also part of the Pontiff's wish to keep things accessible and in casualspeak? If so, that's also a rather interesting way of being a bulwark against 'hybrid secularity'. Just curious, thanks

Sun, March 31, 2013 @ 4:47 PM

5. Kelly wrote:
Francis is probably one of the most effective communicators I've ever heard, which is interesting because he is incredibly soft spoken. There are probably six or seven phrases that I can remember from the top of my head. More importantly he can teach by example... Probably the most important lesson we've gotten from him is the foot washing at the prison.

However, while there have been many changes in the papacy over the past three weeks, it does seem that the press seems to think that everything Francis does is a break from tradition. The Urbi et Orb address was nicely delivered but calling for peace in the world is standard pope stuff.

Mon, April 1, 2013 @ 9:36 AM

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