One of the major themes of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XIV is “The New Evangelization.”
The USCCB’s website has posted “Seven Things Catholics Should Know About the New Evangelization,” written by Peter Murphy, executive director of the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis of the USCCB.
The two that popped out at me (the second and fourth of the seven) were these:
It begins with personal conversion. The New Evangelization begins internally and spreads outward. We are called to deepen our own faith in order to better share it with others. Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger described this in the Jubilee Year 2000 as daring to have faith with the humility of the mustard seed that leaves up to God how and when the tree will grow. Conversion to Christ is the first step.
It’s about a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Before a person can share Christ with others, they must first experience Christ in their own life. The New Evangelization is about promoting a personal encounter with Christ for all people, wherever they are in their lives. Whether that means finding faith for the first time or spreading the Good News, the most authentic and effective efforts are the ones closest to Christ.
We can’t envangelize others until we deepen our own faith. Our own conversion. Our own relationship with Christ. We need to work on ourselves before we can effectively work on others.
And that requires prayer. The external work is important. But internal work must precede it.