THE CALL FOR A “NEW EVANGELIZATION”
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored” (Mt 5:13a RSV). This saying of Jesus, from the Sermon on the Mount, provides the recurring image for the Oblate Summer School which was held at Wistaston Hall, Crewe, from July 20th to 26th 2012 on the theme of “New Evangelisation” Fr. Eugene KING, former Vicar General, led the participants and wrote this summary of their experience.
The theme echoes a growing concern in the ministry of recent Popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, that a thrust of new Evangelisation is needed within the Church if it is to accomplish its mission of witnessing to the vigour of the Gospel in the modern world.
The summer school unfolded in two modules, one emphasising the call to new evangelisation, the second the mission of evangelising. Both sessions developed from four sets of questions:
But there was a difficulty. It is the very word “evangelisation”. It is just not used in common Catholic discourse. Who wants to tell their family or friends that during the workshop they became evangelisers! Worse still that they are carrying the DNA of an evangeliser and did not know it. Besides, the word “evangelisation” opens the door to other words with which we are no more comfortable -- evangelical, evangelistic, evangelism, with undertones of fundamentalism, instant conversion, and preoccupation with being saved.
We realised that we should not abandon completely these terms, and that we have something to learn from other churches who make such terms their own.
Was our difficulty solved? Are we any more comfortable in speaking of the Gospel, the Good News? What is important is to know the savour of salt, and the flavour it gives to life.
Why should we bother with “new Evangelisation”? The alternative is bland despair. “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.” (Mt 5:13, RSV) (Oblate Connections, October 2012)
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