Looking at Evangelization in the Year of Faith

I’d like to ask for reader input on this next bit. Which may not be so bitty.

The Year of Faith commences on 11 October and continues through November 2013. It seems appropriate to take up significant blog space here looking at faith, and particularly the effort of new evangelization. The confluence of this blog and my personal interests has never been confined to liturgy. And I think we all would enjoy a deeper delving into evangelical territory. There are numerous options, some fitting within the previous thrust of this site, and others that might be fresh ground.

The concept of evangelization did not originate with Pope Benedict XVI or his charismatic predecessor. As you may recall from our examination of the General Directory for Catechesis, one of the most-quoted documents was Pope Paul VI’s apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi. Of course, the seminal conciliar document is Ad Gentes, the last in our Vatican II series of five to six years ago. The US bishops have not been silent on evangelization over the years.

If we were to look at this topic over the next sixteen months, it would be good to keep in mind that the challenge has been before us lay Catholics at least since the Second Vatican Council. But like many conciliar initiatives, it has not really taken root in the Catholic imagination. At least not outside those few communities that have discerned a charism and devoted their energy to spreading the faith. All too often, Catholics treat the faith as a treasure to be guarded. I can cite personal examples in my life from both liberals and conservatives. And my own missed opportunities, too. Timidity knows no ideology.

Faith is a gift. God gives it to each believer. We cannot hope to conserve such a gift and hold it for our own. The phrase “faith sharing” may hold wince-worthy associations  in some quarters. But sharing faith is part of spreading it. Wince if you must if you have to divulge some small part of yourself at a discussion table. But if you demur, make sure to surface a better idea to demonstrate Christian faith in your own life.

So what do you think? How should we observe the Year of Faith? Any intrepid writers interested in a bit of collaboration? Any topics you’d like to see covered here from a sensible Catholic perspective?

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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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One Response to Looking at Evangelization in the Year of Faith

  1. Randolph Nichols says:

    This past week Cathleen Kaveny at dotCommonweal posed some great questions about what is being sold in the evangelization process and whether people today are buying it. For example, she wonders whether those who benefit from the advances of life-extending medical technologies will respond to promises of eternal life. There were many thoughtful responses to her post but you may wish to expand the conversation and perhaps offer other insights.

    Many things that lured me to Catholicism more than a half-century ago no longer exist in mainstream parish life (chanting in Latin, the manner of religious dress, statuary, candles, etc.). Being only a teenager at the time, I naturally would grow into deeper dimensions of the faith, but I never lost an appreciation for a sense of wonderment as a motivating factor. Does wonderment play a role any more in evangelization? (Surely as one devoted to astronomy you must appreciate that component of faith.)

    It often strikes me that much of what parishes do to bring in new blood stems more from desperation than a sharing of genuine faith. For example, providing teen bands does not answer the fundamental question most youths have of whether they need believe any of the doctrinal stuff at all. And while the stress on social outreach relates to the core Gospel message and appeals to many, if the examples of the twenty-somethings in my own family mean anything that message doesn’t automatically translate into church attendance.

    One final thing, and this reflects my age and its corresponding ambivalence with new communications technology, blog life moves so swiftly it’s impossible to chew ideas over. Last week’s posts are old news so if comments are to come they tend to be immediate reactions (like this one). Thinking about faith and evangelization however requires prolonged reflection. My advice: during the Year of Faith stagger posts on the topic of evangelization and make sure they refer back to previous entries. That way maybe I’ll be able to keep up.

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