Evangelii Nuntiandi 74: Interior Attitudes

Pope Paul begins to address the final theme of this document. We’re not talking about specifics. There are no programs. No vetted speakers. No founding of schools or internet sites, and no special “year” is being called. I think there’s wisdom in looking to the personal, spiritual, and other “interior” issues that will lead the Church to be effective, and individual disciples to be more fine-tuned in their efforts. This message is for everyone, not just bishops:

74. We would not wish to end this encounter with our beloved brethren and sons and daughters without a pressing appeal concerning the interior attitudes which must animate those who work for evangelization.

“Animate” presumes the work of the Holy Spirit. As always, good evangelical Catholics rely on the grace of God, not human genius and communication skills.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the name of the Apostles Peter and Paul, we wish to exhort all those who, thanks to the charisms of the Holy Spirit and to the mandate of the Church, are true evangelizers to be worthy of this vocation, to exercise it without the reticence of doubt or fear, and not to neglect the conditions that will make this evangelization not only possible but also active and fruitful. These, among many others, are the fundamental conditions which we consider it important to emphasize.

Two things strike me in this short but rich passage.

Ne timeas — don’t be afraid. It’s one of God’s most common messages in the Bible. Everybody is cautioned: Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the apostles, the psalmist, the patriarchs–God is very aware our own fear does us in more times than we care to count.

Attention to the conditions that will make evangelization active and fruitful. In other words, preparation, discernment, and more preparation. It is far from enough to have the right message if we have not prepared the listeners. It is far from enough to dump good seed on the ground from an airplane. We need water, nutrients, depth, cultivation, the right days of the growing season. I think there’s no worry that we avoid hard work or hard messages if we are cultivating listeners properly. One of the Church’s great weaknesses is that we trust how we communicate the message altogether too much. We have the truth. Our truth vibrates the eardrums of non-believers. Mischief managed and now it’s time to pray the rosary. I don’t think that’s how it’s done.

 

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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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