The Solemnity of Christ the King is today, Nov. 26, 2017. In spite of, or because of, that term “king,” which sounds so old-fashioned and dictatorial to many Americans, this special feast—closing the 2017 liturgical year and ushering in Advent—can be a good time to evangelize regarding the blessings of good governance and morally responsible democracy. SPES heard about one such act of evangelization taking place through recent audio recordings made available at a website billed as a Christendom College publication. It’s titled, “Principles” and its compelling motto is: “Clear Thinking on Contemporary Issues.”
Begin your visit to this site by clicking on the audio excerpt from a lecture by Christendom professor P. Bracy Bersnak titled “Principles of Catholic Participation in Politics.” It’s a good example of how a separately branded, online presence can be used by a solidly Catholic college in order to highlight its contributions to the New Evangelization. Through basic audio and video, a relatively low-cost, user-friendly website can showcase curricula and “content” already created by the school and its faculty as a reflection of who they are.
This digital instrument of evangelization can be accessed and consumed easily by Catholics and non-Catholics on campus and around the world.
Prof. Bersnak, noting that Christendom College’s own mission is “to restore all things in Christ” and to help renew the political life of our society in the light of the Kingship of Christ, presents Christ a source of hope that is central to the New Evangelization, allowing Catholics to affirm key points—or timeless principles—that transcend the daily muck of politics and punditry.
Acting as representatives of Christ’s Kingdom on earth is at the heart of Catholic social doctrine and ongoing discipleship, Bersnak points out with a sense of urgency.
“It has never been more important for Roman Catholics to participate in politics than it is now,” he says. “Not just because we have a basic responsibility to contribute to the common good of our country, but because our very freedom to live in accordance with the teachings of our faith is being threatened.”
The archived snippet of Prof. Bersnak’s lecture, available for immediate viewing or downloading as an MP3 audio file, simply puts forth the voice of this economics and politics professor as a voice of evangelization well-suited to the times. He himself makes the reference to Christ the King, but the message is equally appropriate all year round. Bersnak reminds us that Jesus said, “the Kingdom is among you” (Luke 17:21)—already a powerful force although we can’t experience it in its fullness while pilgrims in our fallen world.
It behooves missionary disciples to realize that Catholic colleges and universities, to the degree they are providing solidly Catholic insights from solidly Catholic experts assessing timely topics in a variety of fields, are blessing their students. We can develop strategies to spread that blessing through online resources and other tools for the New Evangelization.
A Catholic university—or diocese or other institution—can be a great digital role model displaying the synergies among our Church’s various activities or disciplines fully engaged in a less-than-perfect world. See how, at our best, we tap into the sciences as well as theology and philosophy because such broad explorations help a vulnerable society acquire the healing power of truth. See this website that is not trapped in a narrow ideology but rather ties human learning to a wonder-inducing relationship with Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life. Such a website can attract those who are willing to discover new connections. A creative, big-picture approach to communicating with the world can reach web-surfing seekers and point them toward refreshing oases for the mind and heart. Try the “Good News” as an antidote to the “same old bad news” that depletes dialogue in the public square.
The existence of Christendom College’s separate “Principles” website is one of the branded, purpose-driven, online publications with which colleges and other institution can spotlight their missionary discipleship. “Faith and Reason,” a site created by Franciscan University of Steubenville, also assembles select talks, TV shows and various examples of interdisciplinary expertise into one place for easy access by those wanting more road maps while our secular society losing its bearings.
Hillsdale College has been doing its own non-denominational evangelizing to the broader world and reaching people who want values-enhanced, history-proven road maps. With a special “Imprimis” site that summarizes talks given by its guest speakers, Hillsdale provides universal access to core courses such as “Constitution 101”. The college demonstrates its own sense of responsibility along the lines of Prof. Bersnak’s call for Catholics to accept their duties as Kingdom emissaries.
SPES wants to celebrate, and report on, all the Spirit-led, entrepreneurial initiatives which are advancing the New Evangelization. Many such initiatives were represented when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops held its convocation of Catholic leaders in Orlando earlier this year. But we also want to encourage ways of recognizing the Spirit’s presence in so many ongoing activities, whether they be academic or diocesan or based in other sectors of our amazingly diverse Church. institutions. Catholics should come to realize and announce the missionary discipleship they already have been conducting. The Feast of Christ the King can remind us how much we already have lived as representatives of the Kingdom through personal connections to Catholic social teaching, as witnesses who are drawing closer to the Lord in a panoply of ways.
Thanks to the popes, our bishops, our priests, our religious and solidly rooted laypeople acting as teachers and servant-leaders, we can keep raising awareness of the Church’s preferential option for mission. Emerging practitioners of the New Evangelization are standing on the shoulders of giants, the already-dynamic Catholics whose work and insights need to be recognized and repeated—as well as repurposed and re-posted online.
We invite you to contact SPES to call attention to the many facets of evangelization you have known in the past and are discovering in the present. We want to advance everyone’s learning about future resources as well as benchmark endeavors populated by “good and faithful servants.” A broad and up-to-date knowledge of how the Spirit guides our Church can help us guide others who are losing hope in the power of truth and the strength of democracy.
In this time for celebrating the Kingship of Christ, we can be grateful witnesses of—and ambitious marketers for—the best of evangelization in both its old and new forms. In the seasons of Advent and Christmas, we can resolve to multiply our options that proclaim Christ is coming and His principles shine today through both faith and reason. Perhaps some Catholic organizations can invest additional time, talent and treasure to spread the light of their discipleship, to the glory of God and the benefit of our hungry brothers and sisters.
Our Church is assembling, in innovative and traditional ways, an amazing universe of outreach efforts which is making news that deserves to be covered—even though many gatekeepers exclude it from our civic life. In these efforts, Christ the King and Jesus our Savior and brother are truly at work among us, and that’s big news craved by multitudes, even if they don’t realize it yet.