On this Columbus Day, it seems appropriate to talk about the New Evangelization. Why? Because the treks of Christopher Columbus and his contemporaries epitomize the “old” evangelization: the quest to bring the Gospel to foreign lands. For many centuries, evangelization was thought of as something relegated to missionaries who traveled to faraway exotic lands to convert pagans.
Today, we are in need of a New Evangelization – an effort that includes ALL Catholics in “re-proposing” the Gospel to those who have heard the Gospel before but are now experiencing a loss of faith due to the prevalence of secularization. For too many, faith has not truly taken root. The New Evangelization calls us to “re-visit” all those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and to “re-propose” the Gospel to them as a call to hope in a culture that is often devoid of meaning.
We no longer need to travel to foreign countries to find people who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ. We live in a culture which, in many ways, has “exiled” people of faith. Geographically, we live in the same place, but somehow the values of the culture around us can seem foreign to us and often do not support a life of faith in Jesus Christ. As a result, faith in Jesus gets pushed to the fringes of our lives. The New Evangelization calls us to make Jesus the center of our lives and to invites others to do the same.
I will not attempt to reinvent the wheel on further descriptions of what the New Evangelization is and what it means. There are many excellent resources already available. Permit me to point out just a few for those of you who are looking to deepen your knowledge of the New Evangelization as we approach the Year of Faith.