Evangelii Nuntiandi 47: Intercommunication

An interesting choice in the third paragraph below: intercommunication.

47. Yet, one can never sufficiently stress the fact that evangelization does not consist only of the preaching and teaching of a doctrine. For evangelization must touch life: the natural life to which it gives a new meaning, thanks to the evangelical perspectives that it reveals; and the supernatural life, which is not the negation but the purification and elevation of the natural life.

This supernatural life finds its living expression in the seven sacraments and in the admirable radiation of grace and holiness which they possess.

Evangelization thus exercises its full capacity when it achieves the most intimate relationship, or better still, a permanent and unbroken intercommunication, between the Word and the sacraments. In a certain sense it is a mistake to make a contrast between evangelization and sacramentalization, as is sometimes done. It is indeed true that a certain way of administering the sacraments, without the solid support of catechesis regarding these same sacraments and a global catechesis, could end up by depriving them of their effectiveness to a great extent. The role of evangelization is precisely to educate people in the faith in such a way as to lead each individual Christian to live the sacraments as true sacraments of faith- and not to receive them passively or reluctantly.

There is a lot here. I can only begin to comment …

Evangelization, to be fruitful and effective, must touch people in their lives, their natural lives, where they are. What is sought is not a denial of their natural life, but instead an “elevation” of it. RCIA speaks of this during the period of purification and enlightenment, in the purpose of the scrutinies:

The scrutinies are meant to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect; to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good. (RCIA 141)

Evangelization implies a twofold mission: healing and strengthening. This occurs with the support of formation, which I would define as the corporate assembly of both education and apprenticeship in the faith, as describes also in the RCIA. RCIA 78 describes five qualities in “instruction,” and they are:

  • enlightens faith,
  • directs the heart toward God,
  • fosters participation in the liturgy,
  • inspires apostolic activity,
  • and nurtures a life completely in accord with the spirit of Christ.

We should be careful about ensuring the spiritual and personal qualities of education/instruction/formation are not overshadowed by academic structures, concerns, and expectations.

What do you make of the “intercommunication” between Word and Sacrament? Is that essential for sacraments traditionally detached from the Word, like Penance? Do believers themselves have a strong enough sense of the Word to allow it to “inform” their sacramental participation more deeply?

What does it mean to live the sacraments? Do people have a strong enough sense of “living” that celebration as well as that presence of Christ?

There’s still a lot to discuss on EN 47. Anything you’re seeing?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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