In recent years there has been a call by our spiritual fathers to actively engage the world through a “New Evangelization” – the call to evangelize traditionally Christian nations that have fallen into secularism. This is sorely needed as more than 32 million Americans are fallen away Catholics and less than 24% of self-identified American Catholics attend mass weekly. We need to start by evangelizing ourselves!

Our Holy Fathers, especially starting with Bl. Pope Paul VI, have exhorted us to fulfill the call of our baptism and to evangelize a hurting world. These exhortations are an excellent starting point to understanding the call to evangelize, who to evangelize, and how to evangelize.

Following are just a few of the many exhortations our holy fathers have offered…

Pope Francis

“What kind of love would not feel the need to speak of the beloved, to point him out, to make him known?” (EG, 264)

“From the heart of the Gospel we see the profound connection between evangelization and human advancement, which must necessarily find expression and develop in every work of evangelization. Accepting the first proclamation, which invites us to receive God’s love and to love him in return with the very love which is his gift, brings forth in our lives and actions a primary and fundamental response: to desire, seek and protect the good of others.” (EG, 178).

“Today more than ever we need men and women who, on the basis of their experience of accompanying others, are familiar with processes which call for prudence, understanding, patience and docility to the Spirit, so that they can protect the sheep from wolves who would scatter the flock.” (EG, 171).

Pope Benedict XVI

“Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” (Deus caritas est, 1).

“Many of our brothers and sisters are ‘baptized, but insufficiently evangelized.’ In a number of cases, nations once rich in faith and in vocations are losing their identity under the influence of a secularized culture. The need for a new evangelization, so deeply felt by my venerable predecessor, must be valiantly reaffirmed, in the certainty that God’s word is effective.” (Verbum Domini, 96).

“…(Many continue) to think of the faith as a self-evident presupposition for life in society. In reality, not only can this presupposition no longer be taken for granted, but it is often openly denied… Today too, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communication the faith.” (Porta fidei, 2).

Pope Saint John Paul II

“The commemoration of half a millennium of evangelization will have its full meaning it it is your commitment as bishops together with your priests and people; commitment, not of re-evangelization, but of a new evangelization; new in its ardor, its methods, in its expression.” (Address to the Assembly of CELAM, 1983).

“Above all, there is a new awareness that missionary activity is a matter for all Christians, for all dioceses and parishes, Church institutions and associations… I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church’s energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church, can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.” (Redemptoris missio, 2,3).

“Looking at today’s world from the standpoint of evangelization, we can distinguish three situations. First, there is the situation which the Church’s missionary activity address: peoples, groups, and socio-cultural contexts in which Christ and his Gospel are not known… Secondly, there are Christian communities with adequate and solid ecclesial structures. They are fervent in their faith and in Christian living… Thirdly, there is an intermediate situation, particularly in countries with ancient Christian roots, and occasionally in the younger Churches as well, where entire groups of the baptized have lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church, and live a life far removed from Christ and his Gospel. In this case what is needed is a “new evangelization” or a “re-evangelization.” (Redemptoris missio, 33).

Pope Paul VI

“…evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church. This task and mission are particularly urgent because of the expansive, penetrating changes in present-day society. In fact, evangelizing is the [Church’s] utmost identity. She exists in order to evangelize…” (Evangelii nuntiandi, 14).

“Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” ( Evangelii nuntiandi, 41).

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