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Pope Benedict and Bono to meet

September 23, 2009

As stated during Pope John Paul II’s pontificat,  part of the New Evangelization is effective use of the media and pop culture.  In December 2000, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) made an address to Catechists and Religion Teachers, The New Evangelization: Building the Civilization of Love.

 To evangelize means: to show this path—to teach the art of living. At the beginning of his public life Jesus says: I have come to evangelize the poor (Luke 4:18); this means: I have the response to your fundamental question; I will show you the path of life, the path toward happiness—rather: I am that path.

The Church always evangelizes and has never interrupted the path of evangelization. She celebrates the eucharistic mystery every day, administers the sacraments, proclaims the word of life—the Word of God, and commits herself to the causes of justice and charity. And this evangelization bears fruit: It gives light and joy, it gives the path of life to many people; many others live, often unknowingly, of the light and the warmth that radiate from this permanent evangelization.

However, we can see a progressive process of de-Christianization and a loss of the essential human values, which is worrisome. A large part of today’s humanity does not find the Gospel in the permanent evangelization of the Church: That is to say, the convincing response to the question: How to live?

An old proverb says: “Success is not one of the names of God.” New evangelization must surrender to the mystery of the grain of mustard seed and not be so pretentious as to believe to immediately produce a large tree. We either live too much in the security of the already existing large tree or in the impatience of having a greater, more vital tree—instead we must accept the mystery that the Church is at the same time a large tree and a very small grain. In the history of salvation it is always Good Friday and Easter Sunday at the same time ….

As for the contents of new evangelization, first of all we must keep in mind the inseparability of the Old and the New Testaments. The fundamental content of the Old Testament is summarized in the message by John the Baptist: metanoeìte—Convert! There is no access to Jesus without the Baptist; there is no possibility of reaching Jesus without answering the call of the precursor, rather: Jesus took up the message of John in the synthesis of his own preaching: metanoeìte kaì pisteúete èn tù eùaggelíu (Mark 1:15).

The Greek word for converting means: to rethink—to question one’s own and common way of living; to allow God to enter into the criteria of one’s life; to not merely judge according to the current opinions. Thereby, to convert means: not to live as all the others live, not do what all do, not feel justified in dubious, ambiguous, evil actions just because others do the same; begin to see one’s life through the eyes of God; thereby looking for the good, even if uncomfortable; not aiming at the judgment of the majority, of men, but on the justice of God—in other words: to look for a new style of life, a new life.

All of this does not imply moralism; reducing Christianity to morality loses sight of the essence of Christ’s message: the gift of a new friendship, the gift of communion with Jesus and thereby with God. Whoever converts to Christ does not mean to create his own moral autarchy for himself, does not intend to build his own goodness through his own strengths.

Here we must also bear in mind the social aspect of conversion. Certainly, conversion is above all a very personal act, it is personalization. I separate myself from the formula “to live as all others” (I do not feel justified anymore by the fact that everyone does what I do) and I find my own person in front of God, my own personal responsibility.
 

But true personalization is always also a new and more profound socialization. The “I” opens itself once again to the “you,” in all its depths, and thus a new “We” is born. If the lifestyle spread throughout the world implies the danger of de-personalization, of not living one’s own life but the life of all the others, in conversion a new “We,” of the common path of God, must be achieved.

In proclaiming conversion we must also offer a community of life, a common space for the new style of life. We cannot evangelize with words alone; the Gospel creates life, creates communities of progress; a merely individual conversion has no consistency….

 

And so, we much evangelize along side our Church’s evangelization efforts. The Church is the big tree and we are the little seed. We can plant seeds among our friends and family and let them grow in God’s own schedule. We need to be patient with our efforts; we may never even see the fruits, but we must never stop trying to convert those around us, helping them to re-think the world and events around them.

While the above quote was aimed at catechists, it can be applied to all of us, and our pope is applying it to the entertainment world as well. So many of our brothers and sisters are starved for Christ and they don’t even know it. TV, movies and music are their bible. The pope is trying to reach out to the lost souls by reaching out to entertainers. On November 21, the Pope will meet with Bono and 500 other personalities in the Sistine Chapel.

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the meeting was to be the first of many initiatives aimed at bridging the gap that has developed between spirituality and artistic expression over the last century or so.
At a news conference at the Vatican Sept. 10, Archbishop Ravasi said that separation could best be seen in the art and architecture of many modern churches, which he said “do not offer beauty, but rather ugliness.”

He said the church hoped that dialogue could help artists regain the “transcendence” that once inspired the 16th-century painter and sculptor Michelangelo, his contemporaries and countless other artists of religious works over the centuries.

 

So let us pray that those that gather with the Pope on that day hear his call to the New Evangelization and formulate their craft to feed the souls of our lost brothers and sisters. We need more conversions in this world, we need more people to re-think their life style so that it becomes more Christ-like.

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