Sister Frances can't stop talking about yesterday's speech by today's newly minted American Cardinal, the affable Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan. He had been invited to speak to the Cardinals (including the not-yet-created ones, who only got their red hats this morning) about the new evangelization. He proposed seven "planks" for this renewed, creative, missionary spirit in the Church as she addresses a culture of secularism (which can in some people be ingeniously combined with outward religious practice).
1: Speak to everyone's search for the transcendent: "...one finds, even among groups usually identified as materialistic -- the media, entertainment, business, politics, artists, writers -- an undeniable openness to the divine!"
2. "Immense confidence and courage in the sacred task of mission and New Evangelization. 'Be not afraid,' we’re told, is the most repeated exhortation in the Bible. After the Council, the good news was that triumphalism in the Church was dead. The bad news was that, so was confidence! We are convinced, confident, and courageous in the New Evangelization because of the power of the Person sending us on mission -- who happens to be the second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity – because of the truth of the message, and the deep down openness in even the most secularized of people to the divine. Confident, yes! Triumphant, never! What keeps us from the swagger and arrogance of triumphalism is a recognition of what Pope Paul VI taught in Evangelii Nuntiandi: the Church herself needs evangelization...
3. "... God does not satisfy the thirst of the human heart with a proposition, but with a Person, whose name is Jesus. The invitation implicit in the Missio ad gentes and the New Evangelization is not to a doctrine but to know, love, and serve -- not a something, but a Someone.... There it is . . . love of a Person, a relationship at the root of our faith."
4. "...this Person, Jesus, tells us He is the truth. ... the upcoming Year of Faith charge us to combat catechetical illiteracy. True enough, the New Evangelization is urgent because secularism has often choked the seed of faith; but that choking was sadly made easy because so many believers really had no adequate knowledge or grasp of the wisdom, beauty, and coherence of the Truth.... This impels us to think about Church in a fresh way: to think of the Church as a mission. As John Paul II taught in Redemptoris Missio, the Church does not 'have a mission,' as if 'mission' were one of many things the Church does. No, the Church is a mission, and each of us who names Jesus as Lord and Savior should measure ourselves by our mission-effectiveness."
5. "The missionary, the evangelist, must be a person of joy. 'Joy is the infallible sign of God’s presence,' claims Leon Bloy.... The missio ad gentes is all about a yes to everything decent, good, true, beautiful and noble in the human person. The Church is about a yes!, not a no!"
6. "The New Evangelization is about love.... Not a nebulous love...but a love incarnate in wonderful schools for all children, clinics for the sick, homes for the elderly, centers for orphans, food for the hungry. In New York, the heart of the most hardened secularist softens when visiting one of our inner-city Catholic schools. When one of our benefactors, who described himself as an agnostic, asked Sister Michelle why, at her age, with painful arthritic knees, she continued to serve at one of these struggling but excellent poor schools, she answered, 'Because God loves me, and I love Him, and I want these children to discover this love.' "
7. "Joy, love . . . and, last point . . . sorry to bring it up, . . . but blood.... [Holy Father,can you omit 'to the shedding of your blood' when you present me with the biretta?] ... While we cry for today’s martyrs; while we love them, pray with and for them; while we vigorously advocate on their behalf; we are also very proud of them, brag about them, and trumpet their supreme witness to the world. They spark the missio ad gentes and New Evangelization. A young man in New York tells me he returned to the Catholic faith of his childhood, which he had jettisoned as a teenager, because he read The Monks of Tibhirine, about Trappists martyred in Algeria fifteen years ago, and after viewing the drama about them, the French film, Of Gods and Men."
You may not have a red biretta, but you have a part to play in the New Evangelization. Which "plank" will be your focus?