Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Christians cannot afford to be lukewarm in their faith" which instead "must burn within us like a flame of love; a flame that lights our entire being, to become the great passion of our existence, igniting those around us. This is the essence of evangelization ": this morning Benedict XVI opened the Synod on the new evangelization, addressing the essential question the 262" fathers "gathered at the Vatican, "are you evangelizers, are you aware in your heart, that God is at work in the Church and do you have a burning passion to communicate Christ to the world. " Christians must "overcome the syndrome of embarrassment" to announce "the simple, genuine and tangible treasure of friendship with Jesus," was the message of the "relatio ante disceptationem", ie the report before the discussion, presented by the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, Donald William Wuerl. This proclamation, however - noted the general rapporteur - is witnessed in life, because to evangelize means to offer the experience of Jesus and not a "philosophical thesis of behavior."
"The great question - in the words of the Pope - is always there, in many hearts. It was there long before that night in Bethlehem, when a child changed history, and echoes - in the midst of persecution and mounting indifference - after two thousand years of spreading the Gospel: Who is God, and what has he got to do with humanity? ". "Behind the silence of the universe, the clouds of history, is there or is there not God? And if there is this God, does he know us, has he something to do with us? Is this God good and does the reality of good have power in the world or not? This question is still relevant today just as it was at that time. A lot of people wonder: is God a hypothesis or not?' He is a reality or not? Why doesn't he make himself heard? 'Gospel' means that God has broken his silence: God has spoken, God exists "," God knows us, God loves us, He has entered into history. Jesus is His Word, God with us, the God who shows Himself to us, who loves us, who suffers with us until His death and resurrection". "God has spoken, He really broke the great silence, He has revealed Himself to us. But how can we get this reality across to the man of today so that it becomes salvation?".
But the "relatio anti disceptationem," says the new evangelization "is not a program. This is a new way of thinking, seeing and acting. It's like a lens through which we see the opportunity to proclaim anew the Gospel" .But this means confronting the reality of a society in which "the intellectual and ideological separation of Christ from his Church," have spread, as well as the "barrier of individualism" that will erodes our sense of responsibility towards each other, a rationalism that turns religion into a "personal matter" and the "drastic reduction in the practice of the faith." It's a situation which has changed "dramatically" since the '70s and '80s, decades of " very poor catechesis " and "aberrations in the practice of the liturgy." "It 'was like a tsunami of secular influence - said the cardinal - that carried away with it social indicators such as marriage, the family, the concept of the common good and the distinction between good and evil."
"Secularization has shaped two generations of Catholics who do not know the basic prayers of the Church. Many do not perceive the value of participation in the Mass, do not receive the sacrament of penance and often have lost the sense of mystery or of the transcendent as if they had no real or verifiable meaning".
that: "the sins of a few" have
fueled distrust in the structures of the Church. In this culture marked by
"secularism, materialism and individualism," however, there are some positive
signs principally coming from young people, children and their parents. In a
word: the family, "the Ideal-place of the new evangelization", the "first
component of the community." But, "while contemporary society wants to
underestimate and sometimes ridicule the life of the traditional family, this
is a natural reality and the first component of the community." And if the
missionaries of the past covered "huge geographical distances" to
proclaim the Gospel, today missionaries must overcome "equally immense ideological
distances," without ever having to leave their own neighborhood.
Four, then, the characteristics of the evangelizer of today: courage, that "quiet courage" of St. Maximilian Kolbe and Mother Teresa of Calcutta; being in communion with the Church and united with her pastors; the capacity to announce God's message with joy; understanding that this mission is "too important" and that "there is no time to lose."