Engaging in work on the new and the old evangelization Print
Year of Faith
Written by Lindsay Becher, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

This is the first in a series of articles to be published on the topic of engaging in the work of evangelization — old and new — and how to live out the Year of Faith by engaging in this most important task. Keep reading in the weeks to come!

We are three months in. This Year of Faith was called for with the hope of transforming our world and the lives of those living in it. What has happened?

  • A synod of bishops and lay leaders in the Church met in Rome for a month to talk about the New Evangelization last October
  • A few hundred people in the Diocese of Madison came out to hear Tom Peterson, founder of Catholics Come Home, speak in Madison this past November.
  • A couple parishes in the area have invited back those who had fallen away from the practice of their faith.
  • Catholic churches were packed on Christmas and were less than half full the following Sunday.
Signs of hope

Numbers do not tell the whole story, so there is no need to bemoan our progress. However, it is safe to say that there is still work to be done. After all, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI asked for all people to have a chance to cross the threshold of faith and encounter the one God who is Love.

This work is not just left to the pope, his bishops, and the priests, though their roles cannot be understated. If we are really looking for a transformation of the role, it seems like a larger number of the faithful will have to join in the work.

In order to better understand how what the job description includes, it would be good to visit two topics discussed at the Second Vatican Council and what has developed since then.

Call to holiness

The first topic of conversation is holiness.

We are all called to it. Not just our holy, inspiring priests. Not just the faithful, wise, and retired crowd that attends daily Mass. Not just those saints of our times like John Paul the Great and Mother Teresa.

The council taught this in the magnificent constitution Lumen Gentium. The climax of the document in the fifth chapter expounded on this important theme — the universal call to holiness, as it wrote, “the Lord Jesus, the divine Teacher and Model of all perfection, preached holiness of life to each and every one of His disciples of every condition” (LG, 40).

The first thing all Catholics need to do is let this reality sink in a bit deeper. We are called to be holy, set apart, and to strive for Heaven in all things we do. Pope Paul VI, Blessed John Paul II, and our current Holy Father have continued to teach us a lot about what this looks like and the theology behind it.

Task of a lifetime

Of course, growing in holiness is a task for a lifetime! However, while working at perfection there is another important lesson to learn. We have to share this message of love and true happiness with the world.

We must engage in the work of evangelization.

While over one billion people in the world are Catholic, there are nearly six billion who have not learned of the life-changing grace available to them from the Church.

Lindsay Becher is the coordinator of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Madison.