The Holy Roman Catholic Church has sounded the call to the New Evangelization1. This is an urgent call of the highest importance, given the dire urgency of the times. A tsunami of evil is overwhelming the whole world. The assault on faith, family and life is in full force. When the Lord Jesus returns, will he find faith on earth?
While things seem hopeless, and we seem helpless in stemming the onslaught, there is always hope. Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. Jesus has already won the victory. As we hurtle to the end of time, we already know how it all ends.
In the meantime, the world and the Church suffer. In the meantime, souls will still be lost. We cannot just wait for the return of our victorious Lord, but we must engage, here and now, in the spiritual war that rages.
This is the call to the New Evangelization.
Throughout salvation history, God has called individuals, peoples and nations. The Almighty God has deemed it right to work with His creatures, to give them the privilege of being agents not only of their own salvation but also that of others. Oftentimes God calls and uses those who are the least and the last, even the lost. This is the mystery of election. God called Israel, the smallest of all nations (Dt 7:7), Jeremiah, who was too young and knew not how to speak (Jer 1:6), Gideon, who was the most insignificant in his family which was the meanest in Manasseh (Jgs 6:15), Saul, who persecuted Christians.
In doing so, God manifests that our effectiveness is entirely up to Him. We are mere instruments. We in fact often get in His way. God does His work in spite of us. But this is cause for great joy. We who are nothing can be something in God’s hands. We who are weak can be strong in the power of His Spirit.
Our part is to respond to God’s call, and then to give our all. The fruit is up to God.
On July 23, 2012, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued its Pastoral Letter on the Era of New Evangelization, entitled “Live Christ, Share Christ.” It is “a nine-year spiritual journey that will culminate with the Great Jubilee of 2021. It is a grace-filled event of blessings for the Church starting October 21, 2012 until March 16, 2021.”
For the Philippines, the task stands on four pillars: (1) Fostering and fulfilling the “missio ad gentes,” (2) Bringing good news to the poor, (3) Reaching out to those whose faith-life has been largely eroded and those who have drifted from the Faith and the Church, and (4) Awakening or re-awakening in faith our young people.
This is about a lay response to our bishops’ call. It focuses on the third pillar, that of “reaching out to those among us whose faith-life has been largely eroded and even lost due to the surrounding confusion, moral relativism, doubt, agnosticism; reaching out to those who have drifted from the Faith and the Church, and have joined other religious sects.” Its focus is on re-evangelizing nominal, cultural or lapsed Catholics. Its goal is to bring Catholics back to Christ and to an active life in the parish.
At the same time, this pillar forms the foundation for the other three. Evangelized Catholics will care for their children and families, will live a preferential option for the poor, and will be the warm bodies that will do missio ad gentes.
This then is the Live Christ, Share Christ (LCSC) Movement. It is intended for Catholics to meet Christ, live Christ and share Christ. It is designed for rapid and massive evangelization, accompanied by the systematic empowerment of laypeople to participate in the work.
It is hoped that through this movement, the Church will be able to mainstream Catholic lay evangelization. In this way, the Catholic Church in the Philippines will truly become a missionary Church and the Filipino nation can attain to its destiny as God’s light to the world.
1For greater understanding of the universal call to the New Evangelization, read “The New Evangelization—A Work of the Divine Family” by Frank Padilla.