Pope Benedict: The New Evangelization "Applies to the Whole of the Church's Life."

Synod of Bishops Concludes in Rome

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By Ann Schneible

ROME, OCTOBER 29, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The New Evangelization applies to the "ordinary pastoral ministry that must be more animated by the fire of the Spirit, so as to inflame the hearts of the faithful who regularly take part in community worship and gather on the Lord’s day to be nourished by his word and by the bread of eternal life," the Pope said yesterday in St. Peter's Basilica. 

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the concluding Mass of the XIII Ordinary General Assembly for the New Evangelization on Sunday morning.

The Holy Father opened his homily for the conclusion Mass of the Synod by offering a reflection of the day's Gospel, which speak about the healing of the blind man Bartimaeus, the last miraculous healing which Jesus performed before his passion. In lieu of the significance which the Gospel texts place upon the state of blindness, he says, it is no accident that this final healing "should be that of a blind person, someone whose eyes have lost the light."

"It represents man who needs God’s light, the light of faith, if he is to know reality truly and to walk the path of life. It is essential to acknowledge one’s blindness, one’s need for this light, otherwise one could remain blind for ever (cf. Jn 9:39-41)… [Bartimaeus] represents man who has lost the light and knows it, but has not lost hope: he knows how to seize the opportunity to encounter Jesus and he entrusts himself to him for healing."

The blind man, Pope Benedict continues, "represents man aware of his pain and crying out to the Lord, confident of being healed. His simple and sincere plea is exemplary, and indeed… it has found its way into the tradition of Christian prayer. In the encounter with Christ, lived with faith, Bartimaeus regains the light he had lost, and with it the fullness of his dignity: he gets back onto his feet and resumes the journey, which from that moment has a guide, Jesus, and a path, the same that Jesus is travelling."

Synod on the New Evangelization

The Holy Father pointed to the significance of this Gospel reading coinciding with the conclusion of the Synodal Assembly on the New Evangelization. "This biblical passage has something particular to say to us," he said, " as we grapple with the urgent need to proclaim Christ anew in places where the light of faith has been weakened, in places where the fire of God is more like smouldering cinders, crying out to be stirred up, so that they can become a living flame that gives light and heat to the whole house.

"The new evangelization," the Pope continued, "applies to the whole of the Church’s life. It applies, in the first instance, to the ordinary pastoral ministry that must be more animated by the fire of the Spirit, so as to inflame the hearts of the faithful who regularly take part in community worship and gather on the Lord’s day to be nourished by his word and by the bread of eternal life."

Pope Benedict highlighted three pastoral themes which emerged over the course of the Synodal Assembly. The pertained first to the sacraments of Christian initiation: "It has been reaffirmed that appropriate catechesis must accompany preparation for Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. The importance of Confession, the sacrament of God’s mercy, has also been emphasized. This sacramental journey is where we encounter the Lord’s call to holiness, addressed to all Christians. In fact it has often been said that the real protagonists of the new evangelization are the saints: they speak a language intelligible to all through the example of their lives and their works of charity."

The second pastoral theme to emerge from the Synod, the Holy Father said, was linked to the Missio ad Gentes. "The Church’s task is to evangelize," he explained, "to proclaim the message of salvation to those who do not yet know Jesus Christ… We must ask the Holy Spirit to arouse in the Church a new missionary dynamism, whose progatonists are, in particular, pastoral workers and the lay faithful. Globalization has led to a remarkable migration of peoples. So the first proclamation is needed even in countries that were evangelized long ago. All people have a right to know Jesus Christ and his Gospel: and Christians, all Christians – priests, religious and lay faithful – have a corresponding duty to proclaim the Good News.

The Pope turned then to a third pastoral theme which pertains to the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism. "During the Synod, it was emphasized that such people are found in all continents, especially in the most secularized countries. The Church is particularly concerned that they should encounter Jesus Christ anew, rediscover the joy of faith and return to religious practice in the community of the faithful. Besides traditional and perennially valid pastoral methods, the Church seeks to adopt new ones, developing new language attuned to the different world cultures, proposing the truth of Christ with an attitude of dialogue and friendship rooted in God who is Love.

"In various parts of the world," he continued, "the Church has already set out on this path of pastoral creativity, so as to bring back those who have drifted away or are seeking the meaning of life, happiness and, ultimately, God. We may recall some important city missions, the “Courtyard of the Gentiles”, the continental mission, and so on. There is no doubt that the Lord, the Good Shepherd, will abundantly bless these efforts which proceed from zeal for his Person and his Gospel."