THE NEW EVANGELIZATION: FOUNDATIONAL ASPECTS

THE NEW EVANGELIZATION: MAJOR ASPECTS
December 29, 2012
THE LIVE CHRIST, SHARE CHRIST MOVEMENT
December 29, 2012

THE NEW EVANGELIZATION: FOUNDATIONAL ASPECTS

FOUNDATIONAL ASPECTS

There are five very important, if not crucial, foundational aspects of evangelistic spirituality to be considered, if this evangelization program will be effective, and result in revival in the Philippines.

For purposes of this paper, we do not include in this list other all-important aspects such as the Eucharist and the Bible, the critical importance of which is presupposed and accepted. By and large, these five aspects are those not emphasized in current official Church programs.

(1) Receiving the power of the Holy Spirit

This is what is known in charismatic renewal as “baptism in the Spirit.” It is intended for growth in holiness and worldwide evangelization. Jesus himself said, “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). It is the baptism in the Spirit that will enable us to become witnesses (to be so, we need to grow in holiness) and to be empowered to effectively proclaim the gospel to the whole world.

Baptism in the Spirit happens in the sacrament of Baptism, and then is reinforced in the sacrament of Confirmation. But many baptized and confirmed Catholics are not living Christian lives, not growing in holiness, not evangelizing. What is needed is a renewed infilling of the Spirit, that will result in a renewed outpouring of the Spirit. The Christian Life Seminar (CLS) is designed to start that process.

Baptism in the Spirit confers spiritual gifts. There are two kinds—the sanctifying gifts and the charismatic gifts. The former help us grow in holiness. The latter help us serve and do the work of evangelization. Both are crucial. There are seven sanctifying gifts (Isaiah 11:2-3a). There are 9 basic charismatic gifts (1 Cor 12:4-10). There are additional charismatic gifts (1 Cor 12:28, Rom 12:6-8, Eph 4:11, 1 Pt 4:9-11). In the Church the sanctifying gifts are often spoken of. The charismatic gifts are less so, or in may cases, not at all. But for the work of massive evangelization, the charismatic gifts are crucial.

Baptism in the Spirit results in a so-called charismatic spirituality. Such is very important for growing in holiness, for vibrant worship, for building community, for service to the Church, for zeal to evangelize.

Consider that charismatics in the Catholic Church and Pentecostals in the other churches are the fastest growing segments of the Christian churches in the world. In the Philippines, consider that the largest religious groups are charismatic in their spirituality—the Catholic El Shaddai, the evangelical Jesus is Lord, even the cult Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Consider that the spirituality of the early Christians, reflected in their worship, was charismatic. Even our ancestors in the faith, as reflected in the book of Psalms, were charismatic in their worship.

No one of course is forced to become a “charismatic.”[1] Other types of spirituality are valid and desirable in the Church. But the evidence in the experience of many Christians is that more are prone to grow in holiness and to become evangelizers if they experience charismatic spirituality.

(2) Growth in holiness

Holiness is hardly talked about, and certainly not emphasized—whether in homilies, teachings, even recollections and retreats. But holiness is the one key aspect that is necessary if a Christian is to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

Many Catholics are unrepentant sinners who need to repent. But it is not just a question of turning away from serious sin. It is not just being a good person. The call is to be like Christ, to be holy as God is holy (1 Pt 1:15-16), to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect (Mt 5:48). The call is to deny self, take up one’s cross, and follow Jesus (Mt 16:24). The call is to a life of integrity, of living the truth, of self-sacrificial love.

This is not about theology,[2] or catechism,[3] or fulfilling Church obligations,[4] which are of course all important, but it is a matter of knowing Christ and the power of his resurrection (Phil 3:10a). It is about having the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16). It is being filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18b). It is leaving all and living all for God.

The Philippines can only become a light to the world if Catholics grow in holiness.[5] It is only then that the very light of Christ will shine in and through us.

(3) A covenant

Christians have a covenant with God, by which God reveals to us that He is our God and we are His people. If we live the life He has prescribed for us, we will experience peace and prosperity.

It would be helpful to have an actual written covenant that we would voluntarily enter into that would describe important aspects of our relationship with God and commitments that we make to Him. Those who finish the CLS and wish to participate in the New Evangelization would then be like “card-carrying members.” We would have a concrete and constant reminder of God’s call to us. It will be a tool for growing in holiness.

The covenant is as follows:

Trusting in the Lord’s help and guidance:

1.   I shall live as a follower of Christ.

*             Pray and read the Bible daily.

*             Strive for holiness and Christian perfection.

2.   I dedicate myself to the task of building a strong family for Christ.[6]

* Invest myself in time and effort for home and family.

* Live out and defend the culture of life.

3.   I shall be a committed and active member of my parish community.[7]

* Love and serve my parish.

*             Relate in love, loyalty and respect with all parishioners.

*             Actively participate in parish events.

* Support the parish with my time and finances.

4.   I shall be a witness to the world of God’s love.

* Actively evangelize and do mission.

* Love and care for the poor.

May the Lord Jesus Christ, with the intercession of our blessed Mother Mary, help me to faithfully live this covenant, for His greater honor and glory and for the good of my brothers and sisters.

(4) Evangelization and mission

Most Catholics have no idea about being evangelizers or missionaries. But this is a fundamental call to all Christians. In fact, if we are aware of the Great Commission and do not do it, then we are committing a sin of omission. It is a serious matter, as the salvation won by Jesus on the cross can be experienced by people only through the work of proclaimers of the gospel (Rom 10:13-17).

The program of re-evangelization can only reach every Catholic Filipino in a rapid and massive way if those who are evangelized become evangelizers themselves. Everyone can participate because we promote person-to-person evangelization in the normal day-to-day environments of our lives. Without having to go out of our way, we reach out to those whom we interact with on a regular basis—relatives, friends, co-workers, schoolmates, neighbors, parishioners.

Becoming evangelizers also help move us into holiness, as we more and more think and speak about Christ, and deliberately amend our lives to become more effective witnesses.

(5) Lay empowerment

The laity need to be empowered. The whole Philippines cannot be re-evangelized unless the laity take their proper place and role in the mission of the Church. The laity comprise over 99.9% of the Church, and are the ones inserted in every nook and cranny of the nation.

The laity need to know their inherent dignity as Christians, and the attendant privileges and responsibilities. They participate in the life and mission of the Church not as a concession given by the Church hierarchy. They are not extensions of the parish priest, but of Jesus himself. They are co-responsible for the life and work of the Church.

In this decade of re-evangelization, much of the actual work will be done by the laity.[8] The clergy are already burdened with what they are doing, and so will just basically oversee and provide guidance to the work of the laity. For good order, the bishops, and through them the clergy, exercise overall responsibility and authority over the Church (each bishop in his diocese).


[1] Every true Christian is a charismatic, that is, he has the gift of the Holy Spirit. Here we talk not of this reality but of a particular type of spirituality.

[2] There are in fact many dissident theologians.

[3] Head knowledge will have to be applied to day-to-day Christian living.

[4] Many Mass goers do not live Christian lives the rest of the week.

[5] This is for both laity and clergy.

[6] This is for every member of a family, whether married or single. Everyone belongs to a family. For clergy, they have their spiritual families.

[7] Except for those in religious communities, though they are welcome to participate in the parish also.

[8] If not for anything else, this would be due to sheer numbers.

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