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Posted May 16, 2006

Book: John Paul II and the New Evangelization: How you can bring Good News to others
Edited by: Ralph Martin & Peter Williamson
Servant Books. Cincinnati, OH. 2006. Pp.324

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Pope John Paul II urged the church repeatedly and persistently to proclaim the gospel to all humanity. This summons to a "new evangelization" characterized his papacy. But what does the new evangelization mean? And who is supposed to evangelize? What is the role of the parish? Of married couples? How do we evangelize teens? And what are the ecumenical dimensions of evangelism?

In this book, twenty-two authors address these and many other issues. Cardinal Avery Dulles describes the evangelical shift in the church since Vatican II; those involved in day-to-day evangelism provide practical tips for evangelizing the poor (Sr. Linda Koontz), street evangelism tips for evangelizing the poor (Leonard Sullivan), using spiritual gifts (Peter Herbeck) and much more.

John Paul II and the New Evangelization is an inspiring and practical guide to help you answer John Paul II's call to bring the truth to a world sorely in need of Good News.

An Excerpt from the Book:

John Paul II did not seek to prescribe in detail the methods and modalities of the new evangelization, which will inevitably take on distinct hues in different situations. He was content to provide the stimulus for local initiative. But from a variety of papal statements, it is possible to sketch the basic lineaments of the program.

Like any evangelistic outreach, the "new evangelization" must be centered on the person of Jesus Christ and on the one and eternal gospel. Within this stable framework the new evangelization has at least four characteristics that set it off from the evangelistic efforts of previous centuries:

1. The participation of every Christian. No longer reserved to clerics and religious with a special missionary vocation, evangelization is now seen as the responsibility of the whole church. Vatican II had already taught that since the church is missionary by her very nature, evangelization is the duty of every Christian. Elaborating on this point, Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi described the distinct contributions expected of the pope, bishops, priests, religious and laity.

John Paul II made similar distinctions. Bishops, he said, "are the pillars on which rest the work and the responsibility of evangelization, which has as its purpose the building up of the Body of Christ." Priests are by vocation "responsible for awakening the missionary consciousness of the faithful." Members of religious orders and congregations can play a special role because their total gift of self through the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience gives dramatic testimony to the values of the kingdom of God.

From the beginning of his pontificate, John Paul II emphasized the participation of all Christians, whether clerical or lay, in the prophetic office of Christ. In his apostolic exhortation on the laity in 1988, he strongly accented the duty of lay Christians to make their daily conduct a shining and convincing testimony to the gospel. It is their special responsibility, he said, to demonstrate how Christian faith constitutes the only fully valid response to the problems and hopes that life poses to every person and society. In talks to special groups - such as families, women, students, children, the sick and the disabled - the pope illustrated how the special gifts of each class can contribute to the total effort.

2. Distinct from foreign mission. In a period when it could be taken for granted that the Western world was solidly Christian, Europe and America were no longer regarded as suitable targets for evangelization. They were considered to have passed beyond that stage to the phase of pastoral care. Since the legal and social pressures in favor of religious conformity have been relaxed, it has become apparent that many Christians, including Catholics, were never effectively evangelized. Baptized in infancy, they have never made a living personal commitment to Christ and the gospel. As adolescents or adults, many drift away from the faith.

Evangelization, in fact, must be directed to the church itself. Paul VI stated this quite bluntly: "The Church is an evangelizer, but she begins by being evangelized herself . . .she needs to listen unceasingly to what she must believe, to her reasons for hoping, to the new commandment of love." The members of the church themselves ar tempted by the idols of the prevailing culture.

Different strategies are required for dealing with different populations. In large parts of Europe and the Americas, fresh proclamation is urgently needed to fill in what can only be described as a growing religious vacuum. A new paganism, marked by phenomena such as astrology and earth worship, is rampart. Large numbers of young people, especially in the inner cities, are simply ignorant of Christianity, as are multitudes of immigrants and refugees coming from non-Christian parts of the world. These groups stand in need of primary evangelization - that is to say, a first proclamation of the Christian message.

Quite different are the needs of people who were once superficially instructed in their religion but have lost a living sense of the faith and are alienated from the Church. They require re-evangelization rather than primary evangelization, in order to fan the embers of their dying faith into flame. They must be socialized, perhaps for the first time, in welcoming communities of vibrant faith.

3. Directed to cultures. Whereas evangelization had usually been studied in terms of individual conversion, Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi observed that culture themselves need to be regenerated by contact with the gospel. Convinced of the unbreakable links between faith and culture, John Paul II established the Pontifical Council for Culture in 1982. The new evangelization, he declared, must strive to make human cultures harmonious with Christian values and open to the gospel message.

This is not a matter of dominating cultures but rather of serving them. As John Paul stated in his encyclical Centesimus Annus I n1991, evangelization "plays a role in the culture of various nations, sustaining culture in its progress towards the truth, and assisting in the work of its purification and enrichment." Where the prevailing culture remains closed and hostile, faith cannot fully express itself, nor can the culture achieve its full potential.

In his visit to Los Angeles in 1987, John Paul II raised some challenging questions about the influence of the gospel on the music, poetry, drama, painting and sculpture of the United States today. He asked whether all these art forms wee sufficiently imbued with the Christian spirit. To bring about this needed development, he added, is primarily the task of the Christian laity.

4. Envisaging comprehensive Christianization. The initial proclamation of the basic Christian message is an indispensable first step, but it is only the beginning of a lifelong process. Paul VI set forth a rich and multifaceted program of evangelization in Evangeli Nuntiandi.

John Paul II repeated defined full evangelization as involving catechetical instruction, moral doctrine and the social teaching of the church. Personal transformation requires instruction in sound doctrine, participation in sacramental worship and the acquisition of a mature ethical and social conscience. A total evangelization, he said, "will penetrate deeply into the social and cultural reality, including the economic and political order. . .Such a total evangelization will naturally have its highest point in an intense liturgical life that will make parishes living ecclesial communities." Evangelization in its completeness should lead to what John Paul II, following Paul VI, frequently called "a civilization of love."

Table of Contents:

Part 1: Catching the vision
1. John Paul II and the new evangelization: What does it mean?
2. What is our message?
3. Why should Catholics evangelize?
4. How must Catholics evangelize? Evangelization and the power of the Holy Spirit
5. The fundamental mission of every believer

Part 2: Perspectives on evangelization
6. Go and make disciples: the United States Bishops' National Plan for Catholic Evangelization
7. Evangelization and the experience of initiation in the early church
8. The new evangelization in Africa
9. Which churches are growing and why?

Part 3: How you can evangelize!
10. Six steps to effective evangelization
11. Employing charisms in evangelization
12. Catholic street evangelization
13. Preaching evangelistic homilies

Part 4: Bringing the Good News to all people
14. Evangelizing the poor
15. Evangelizing married couples
16. Evangelizing teenagers
17. Evangelizing in business and government
18. Evangelizing Hispanic Americans

Part 5: Evangelizing as a Parish
19. The story of an evangelizing parish
20. Evangelizing as a parish
21. Transforming the sacramental parish into an evangelizing community

Part 6: Evangelization and Christian Unity
22. Ecumenical issues in evangelization
23. A great springtime for Christianity