Tag Archives: New Evangelization

Brew Evangelization –Benedictine styled

Norcia monksThe idea of sharing anew the beautiful, the true and the good of the Catholic faith with baptized Catholics, with other Christians, and with those justing seeking Someone greater, is popular these days. The words we are using to describe this sharing of faith is the new evangelization. Saint John Paul got the ball rolling again after a hiatus from the time of Blessed Paul VI and the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council with promoting a new way of bring the Lord’s Good News to society again. But for him the new evangelization isn’t about a program as much as it is manner of conversion.

As typical, we see the use of the word “evangelization” used in a variety of ways but without a distinct and concrete definition. In my estimation few have really grasped the concept of it means to be engaged in evangelization. So many want to bolster the numbers of people in the pews, or get parish programs going or some such thing superficial thing. The difficult task is forming in a new way invested Catholics. There are times you get the sense that the “same-old” is being repackaged: it is new wine in old wine skins. The new evangelization becomes in many places more of the ghetto mentality and a perpetuation of an immature Christianity. That’s a long way of saying that we need a more creative approach in sharing the faith in bold ways.

Certainly we don’t need gimmicks. We do, however, need an honest approach that is human connected to the divine.

The Benedictine monks are getting to the heart of what I am aiming at with the new evangelization: beer brewing for the Kingdom of God. Indeed, the brewing of beer (and drinking the beer) can be a de-regulated way of getting to the heart of the faith, getting to the creator and how He is manifested in His creation. Brewing and drinking beer is a very human experience that will penetrate the heart and mind to think a little more deeply about spiritual things and how to live for and with Christ.

Here is an article, “Brew Evangelization.” Read this fine article and the links embedded. One of my interests is to see the Benedictine charism flower again. AND it is beginning to do just that….

Pope Francis prays for a listening heart fixed on Christ’s gaze

Luisna Pucci and Elise NataleDear families, good evening!

The evening falls on our assembly.

It is the hour in which one willingly returns home to the same meal, in the thick of affections, of the good that has been done and received, of the encounters which warm the heart and make it grow, good wine which anticipates in the days of man the feast without end.

It is also the most weighty hour for he who finds himself face to face with his own loneliness, in the bitter twilight of broken dreams and plans: how many people trudge through the day in the blind alley of resignation, abandonment, even resentment: in how many homes was the wine of joy less plenty, therefore, the zest – and the wisdom – of life. For one another we make our prayer heard.

It is significant how – even in the individualistic culture which distorts and  renders connections fleeting – in each person born of a woman, there remains alive an essential need of stability, of an open door, of someone with whom to weave and to share the story of life, a history to which to belong.

The communion of life assumed by spouses, their openness to the gift of life, the mutual protection, the encounter and the memory of generations, educational support, the transmission of the Christian faith to their children . . . With all this, the family continues to be a school without parallel of humanity, an indispensable contribution to a just and united society. (cfr Esort. ap. Evangelii gaudium, 66-68).

And the deeper its roots, the more it is possible in life to leave and to go far, without getting lost or feeling out of place in foreign lands.

This horizon helps us to grasp the importance of the Synodal assembly, which opens tomorrow.

Already, the “convenire in unum” surrounding the Bishop of Rome is an event of grace, in which episcopal collegiality is made manifest in a path of spiritual and pastoral discernment.

To search for that which today the Lord asks of His Church, we must lend our ears to the beat of this time and perceive the “scent” of the people today, so as to remain  permeated with their joys and hopes, by their sadness and distress, at which time we will know how to propose the good news of the family with credibility.

We know, in fact, as in the Gospel, there is a strength and tenderness capable of defeating that which is created by unhappiness and violence.

Yes, in the Gospel there is salvation which fulfills the most profound needs of man! Of this salvation – work of God’s mercy and grace – as a Church, we are sign and instrument, a living and effective sacrament.

If it were not so, our building would remain only a house of cards, and pastors would be reduced to clerics of state, on whose lips the people would search in vain for the freshness and “smell of the Gospel.” (Ibid., 39).

Thus emerges also the subject of our prayer.

Above all, we ask the Holy Spirit, for the gift of listening for the Synod Fathers: to listen in the manner of God, so that they may hear, with him, the cry of the people; to listen to the people, until they breathe the will to which God calls us.

Besides listening, we invoke an openness toward a sincere discussion, open and fraternal, which leads us to carry with pastoral responsibility the questions that this change in epoch brings.

We let it flow back into our hearts, without ever losing peace, but with serene trust which in his own time the Lord will not fail to bring into unity.

Does not Church history perhaps recount many similar situations, which our Fathers knew how to overcome with persistent patience and creativity?

The secret lies in a gaze: and it is the third gift that we implore with our prayer. Because, if we truly intend to walk among contemporary challenges, the decisive condition is to maintain a fixed gaze on Jesus Christ – Lumen Gentium – to pause in contemplation and in adoration of His Face.

If we assume his way of thinking, of living and of relating, we will never tire of translating the Synodal work into guidelines and paths for the pastoral care of the person and of the family.

In fact, every time we return to the source of Christian experience, new paths and un-thought of possibilities open up. This is what the Gospel hints at: “Do whatever he tells you.”

These are the words which contain the spiritual testament of Mary, “the friend who is ever-concerned that wine not be lacking in our lives” (EV 286). Let us make these words ours!

At that point, our listening and our discussion on the family, loved with the gaze of Christ, will become a providential occasion with which to renew – according to the example of Saint Francis – the Church and society.

With the joy of the Gospel we will rediscover the way of a reconciled and merciful Church, poor and friend of the poor; a Church “given strength that it might, in patience and in love, overcome its sorrows and its challenges, both within itself and from without.” (Lumen Gentium, 8)

May the Wind of Pentecost blow upon the Synod’s work, on the Church, and on all of humanity. Undo the knots which prevent people from encountering one another, heal the wounds that bleed, rekindle hope.

Grant us this creative charity which consents to love as Jesus loved. And our message may reclaim the vivacity and enthusiasm of the first missionaries of the Gospel.

How are far are you willing to change your mind and evangelize?

Catholics need to change direction: to move from the Counter-reformation approach, what is now too ghetto-like today, to one that is more evangelical. We are indeed moving in that direction but as far as I can see, we are moving too slowly. The work started by Pope Leo XIII and concluded by Pope Benedict XVI still is highly instructive. What is clear to historians, it was Leo who changed the Church’s approach to education, culture, politics, etc. that was evident in previous generations in the pontificates of Gregory XVI and Pius IX. Leo’s 25 years and Benedict’s 8 years are bookends. Leo dealt with all the points of human history; Benedict continued what John Paul started in completing the Second Vatican Council and bridging faith and reason. What Francis will give us is still too new to determine in a critical way.

All this is to encourage you to read and fully digest George Weigel’s Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st Century Church (Basic Books). I wrote about this book earlier here on Communio. What I said earlier remains the same now: Weigel is proposing to new evaluation, a new way for Catholics to engage the world. What we’ve been doing is simply not working anymore. Some Catholics are being eased into mediocre Christianity, others are walking away, others are searching for new ways to propose the truth of Jesus Christ and His sacrament, the beauty Catholic life. What Weigel suggests –and I am not going to give away the detail of his work here– is potentially going to anger some people and make others happy; he’s challenging every concept we have with regard to our ecclesial life: catechetics, preaching, liturgical music, the celebration of sacraments, matters of governance, education at all levels, how we use resources (economic and human), and so forth. Nothing is left unaffected by this public intellectual.

It is my considered opinion that dioceses and religious orders ought to take heed and at the very least allow Weigel’s ideas to ruminate in heart and mind. We can be uncritical of the ghetto mentality of Christian living and expect to be doing what Christ wants us to do. If it is, why are so many priests doing bad things, dioceses going bankrupt, Catholic hospitals merging with secularist institutions, religious order dying because they don’t, won’t, can’t live their charism with new vigor, parishes closing, etc.?

Blessed Giacomo Alberione

Giacomo AlberioneA fascinating priest and zealous missionary of the twentieth century is today’s blessed, Giacomo Alberione (1884-1971). His call to do something striking for the Lord came while he was adoring the eucharistic Lord during the night of the change of year 1900 to 1901. He may be most known in the USA for the foundation of the Daughters of St Paul in 1915 but there are several other congregations forming the Pauline Family. Alberione founded a family devoted to the great evangelizer, Saint Paul, that has active and contemplative sisters, priests and brothers, the laity, and various other institutes. All of the various Pauline congregations collaborate in some way, according to a divine gift given, to spread the message of the gospel and to assist in the devotional life of the Christian.

On 27 April 2003, Blessed John Paul beatified Father Giacomo Alberione We look forward to his definitive place at the altar.

In all ways, Blessed Alberione is a keen example of work of the new evangelization and the formation of Christians.

Blessed Giacomo Alberione, pray for us.

Evangelii Gaudium

Today, the Holy See officially released Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. This is first work that comes from the papal office. The first paragraph of the Exhortation reads,

The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.

The entire text of Evangelii Gaudium may be read here.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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