‘Protagonists of Hope’
An excerpt from a recent book outlines the New Evangelization for laymen
By Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The New Evangelization is all about the kingdom. The Epiphany star was directed to realizing the kingdom. So is the brightness reflected in the face of every believer today.
The New Evangelization is more an outlook on life than it is a program. It’s an unceasing turning toward the Lord, returning to the Lord. It's about conversion - yours and mine, first of all – but also all the people we'll take along with us.
In every action, our starting point and goal must be Jesus Christ. Jesus calls this generation to follow him in discipleship and real friendship. But our response to his call can never remain simply a private or partial acknowledgment.
Yes, we'll see new programs arise in the Church, and that’s all to the good. But God’s plan always outdoes human projects. The New Evangelization is not a passing slogan. It is not a religious fad. It is not a transitory program, but a mystery that is as permanent as the earth, a glory eternal as the heavens.
As we accept Jesus' promise of life in abundance, we also lean upon his promise so that we might find strength in every situation, even those that stretch us and lead us to unfamiliar places.
Our personal commitment does not rest on our own individual resolve or limited resources. The First Letter of St. Peter reminds us: “You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pt 1:23).
Now is the opportune time. We can be confident that the Holy Spirit will enliven our commitment as we seek to rediscover the astonishing truths expressed in the creed. The Spirit will strengthen us as we entrust ourselves to the life of grace and virtue promised in the sacraments. The Spirit will bolster our confidence as we open our hearts for divine gifts that will strengthen us to live our faith. This must be our earnest prayer.
The call to discipleship involves discipline. We must welcome Jesus into our everyday lives, and we must do it every day. We should begin and end our days in prayer, read Scripture each day, or hear God's word and reflect on how to make it a part of our life. We should faithfully attend Mass and receive Our Lord in the Eucharist. We should actively accept his love and mercy in the Sacrament of Penance.
The New Evangelization can then overflow into the society in which we live. Together, as faithful parishioners and citizens, we are strong enough to adjust the cultural climate in our society so that the temperature is right for a substantial flourishing - the “new springtime” of which Pope John Paul II spoke. Grace builds on nature and cultivates culture. As we transform culture through our lives, we prepare a rich soil to receive the seeds of the Gospel, the seed of the kingdom.
The Sower entrusts this work to us. He already knows our difficulties and tensions, our restlessness, our faults and our human weakness. Nonetheless, he calls us and places the seed in our hands and entrusts it to our stewardship. The seed is the beginning of fruitfulness.
Planting the seed may mean that we learn new styles of communication; open our hearts to a more culturally diverse community; study more deeply the mysteries of the faith; reach out with confidence and invite a neighbor to attend Mass; forgive a long-held grudge; or focus on a new and more influential approach with a son or daughter, father or mother, or spouse who is away from the practice of the faith. Every moment becomes a new opportunity to connect another person with the abundant springtime that God promises. In this, we are protagonists of hope.
The above material was excerpted from Seek First the Kingdom: Challenging the Culture by Living Our Faith by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C. © 2012 by Cardinal Donald Wuerl. Permission to reproduce copyrighted materials was extended by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing. No other use or manipulation of this material is authorized or permitted. To purchase a copy of the book, visit catalog.osv.com.