What Is the New Evangelization?
Christ came to bring hope, peace, and salvation to the world. As baptized Catholics, we are all called to share Christ in our families and daily life. The New Evangelization is realized through announcing the Good News to those who have never heard of Christ (called missio ad gentes, the mission to the nations), engaging in ongoing catechesis, and “re-proposing” the Gospel to those who, although baptized, have drifted away from the Church.
By deepening our relationship with Christ and experiencing his love, we renew our faith as disciples in a community of believers, grow in confidence in the truth of the Gospel, and then share our faith in Jesus Christ joyfully with others. The New Evangelization invites all Catholics to see the world as an opportunity to bring people to Christ and to grow closer to Christ themselves.
The family is the heart of the New Evangelization, since it is where the faith is first encountered, passed down, lived, and sustained.
The Family and the New Evangelization
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Evangelization first takes place in the family. Parents, “by word and example, are the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children” (Lumen Gentium, no. 11). Also called the “domestic church,” the family is a small version of the Church. The family receives its life from the Church and in turn mirrors the life of the larger Church. In the family, children first learn about God, love, and the Church. Mothers and fathers are indispensable in sharing the faith with their children. When parents practice and live their Catholic faith, children receive a sure foundation to assist them in difficult life choices. As parents and families learn and live their faith, they grow in confidence in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his Church and are nourished by the sacraments and desire to share. The family has an invaluable role in passing on the faith in a joyful and bold manner. Children will learn that they are members of the Body of Christ and have a valuable role in the Church.
Evangelization in the family is not a complicated task. It can be age appropriate and begin with simply teaching children the Sign of the Cross, the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. As they mature, reading from Scripture and the lives of the saints can touch their hearts and imaginations. Parents teach children to live the virtues (Gal 5:22-23) and love the Lord with their whole hearts (Mt 22: 27). When children see their parents committed to the Lord and his Church, they are much more likely to do so themselves. Families are uniquely qualified to invite their family members, friends, and neighbors to return to the Church or to consider becoming Catholic
What Can You Do in Your Family to Foster the New Evangelization?
Every baptized person is called to be a disciple of Christ and proclaim the Gospel. This is true of individuals and of families. While this task may seem daunting, the Church—through the sacraments—provides married couples and families with the grace and resources necessary to be evangelizers in our local communities. And remember, living the everyday moments of our lives with faith, hope, and love is the most effective way to share our faith with others. This witness is what is needed in order to reach our families, friends, and neighbors. Here are some concrete practices that anyone can use in their families to foster the New Evangelization:
- Pray daily (individually and as a family).
- Read Scripture. Children love to hear the stories of the Bible.
- Regularly celebrate the sacraments, especially in Sunday Mass each week as a family (find your local parish at www.masstimes.org).
- Trust in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives married couples the grace you need to share your faith with your children and others in the community.
- Study the faith through the Catechism of the Catholic Church and faith formation programs. Discuss the faith over dinner.
- Participate in service opportunities as a family.
- Personally invite your family, friends, and neighbors to your home and to Sunday Mass in a welcoming spirit.
- Being willing to listen to other peoples’ stories and questions about the Church without judgment.
- Welcome new members of the parish, offer to help new parents, support the divorced and widowed.
- Remember the words of Peter: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” (1 Pt 3:15).
For more information on the New Evangelization, see Disciples Called to Witness.
The document Marriage and Famliy : The Home of the New Evangelization was developed as a resource by the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). It was reviewed by the committee chairman, Bishop David L. Ricken, and has been authorized for publication by the undersigned.
Msgr. Ronny E. Jenkins, JCD
General Secretary, USCCB
Scripture excerpts used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, rev. ed. © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
First printing, [month] 2013
Copyright © 2013, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright holder.