The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the GospelsAs the church gets ready to embark on the Year of Faith in just less than a month on October 11, 2012, many Catholics are wondering how to more fully understand this “new evangelization” and how to actually go about this in their every day lives. This will be the topic for our In Good Faith podcast tomorrow — Joe Paprocki, a catechetical leader for over 30 years, will join us to talk about the New Evangelization and what it means for Catholics. (UPDATE: Link to downloadable podcast: IGF021)

So what exactly is the New Evangelization? The “New Evangelization” is the Church’s call to “each of us to deepen our faith, believe in the Gospel message and go forth to proclaim the Gospel. The focus of the New Evangelization calls all Catholics to be evangelized and then go forth to evangelize. In a special way, the New Evangelization is focused on ‘re-proposing’ the Gospel to those who have experienced a crisis of faith.” (USCCB)

This concept of the New Evangelization was used frequently in the writings and addresses of Pope John Paul II, especially in his 1990 encyclical, Redemptoris Missio, “On the permanent validity of the Church’s missionary mandate”. Here is a brief quote from the beginning of this letter:

“Twenty-five years after the conclusion of the [Second Vatican] Council and the publication of the Decree on Missionary Activity Ad Gentes, fifteen years after the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi issued by Pope Paul VI, and in continuity with the magisterial teaching of my predecessors, I wish to invite the Church to renew her missionary commitment.

The present document has as its goal an interior renewal of faith and Christian life. For missionary activity renews the Church, revitalizes faith and Christian identity, and offers fresh enthusiasm and new incentive. Faith is strengthened when it is given to others! It is in commitment to the Church’s universal mission that the new evangelization of Christian peoples will find inspiration and support.” (Redemptoris Missio, §2)

Pope Benedict XVI formally picked up on his predecessor’s desire for renewal with his announcement on June 28, 2010 about the creation of a new council to help the Church promote the Gospel.

A year later, the pope announced a Year of Faith beginning October 2012 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. The Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to “study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II and the catechism so that they may deepen their knowledge of the faith.” (USCCB) Coinciding with the start of the Year of Faith, the Synod of Bishops will meet along with various experts and observers to discuss the New Evangelization.

“… the celebration of the Synod is expected to enliven and energize the Church in undertaking a new evangelization, which will lead to a rediscovery of the joy of believing and a rekindling of enthusiasm in communicating the faith. The question is not simply devising something new or undertaking unprecedented initiatives in spreading the Gospel, but living the faith in the spirit of it being a divine proclamation …” (New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith, §9)

As the Church moves into the Year of Faith, what are some of your thoughts on the New Evangelization? How has your parish or you individually been approaching this? Where does this fit within your overall faith journey? How is this related to your relationship with God?