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So, the Synod on the New Evangelization once came up with 58 Proposals for making the New Evangelization work. Some of them interest me more than others.
#4 Our participation in the life of the Trinity, our sonship, our identity as Christians is the source of our power to evangelize. Nothing new here, or anywhere in this, but a great reminder that to be better givers-away, we need to be more fully who we already are!
#11 Every opportunity for Scripture study should be made available, and the Scripture should permeate homilies, catechesis, and all our evangelization. Amen, amen! Our separated brethren in the Protestant churches will hear us more clearly if we speak ‘scripture,’ and put the lie to their sense that we don’t value the Bible.
#15, 16 Standing up for human rights, for the unborn, for religious freedom IS evangelization! We don’t have to take time away from all that to be contributing mightily to the New Evangelization. Perhaps we’ll add more scripture, more prayer, more loving-kindness to our methods, but rock on, ye who are fighting these fights!
#18 The most effective form of evangelization is the sharing of the testimony of life. How has your life in Christ moved you, changed you, helped you, challenged you, blessed you? TODAY??
#20 There should be a particular attention paid to the way of beauty. Beauty attracts us to love…In this light artists feel themselves privileged communicators of the New Evangelization. Can I hear a big whoop from writers and artists and poets and musicians out there??
#27 Education needs to promote everything that is true, good and beautiful. Is this happening at your school, boys and girls?
#34 Sunday needs to be recovered with its sacred and special character together with Sunday Mass, as the center of Catholic life. Souls at Rest, anyone??
#35 THE LITURGY OF THE CHURCH IS THE BEST SCHOOL OF THE FAITH. No more nun puppets, please Father!
#39 Pilgrimages to shrines and sanctuaries are an important aspect of the New Evangelization. Where shall we go? Who else wants to put up roadside shrines??
#45 The mission proper to lay faithful is the transformation of worldly structures. I love this! Let’s get busy!!! Life witness, works of charity and mercy, renewing the temporal order, and learning how to just flat proclaim what we believe….we can do this!!
# 52 The New Evangelization promotes ecumenical collaboration…in particular, the Church invites Christians to persevere and to intensify their relations with Muslims. Despite difficulties, this dialogue must continue. Sounds pretty clear to me….we can’t be part of the demonize-the-other-guy crowd, but must take the risk of identifying with him as a human being, and keeping a respectful dialogue going. Dialogue – it’s not just for ‘liberals’, but for anyone who wants to set people free: LIBERATORS!!
Well, we’ve got our work cut out for us!! I’d like to know what you think of all this, and what you’re consciously doing for the New Evangelization.
Practice of the Presence of Persons
I’m beginning to think we need more conscious practice for being present to persons.
Though I know that you are a deep mystery and a unique, unrepeatable reality, you enter my space as an object in the environment and I often do not register your presence at all. This is a sad state of affairs, exacerbated by the speedy pace of life, the isolation of persons in cars and suburbs, the barely-there transactional symbology that counts as ‘communication,’ and other obvious factors of reality that I can’t change.
What can I change? What can I suggest to help along this ‘practice of the presence of persons’?
- Prayer before coming into the presence of others. “Dear God, please help me to be fully present to those I am about to encounter, to believe you have arranged for me to meet with the particular individuals who are present, to resist my own inward resistance to showing real heart hospitality to them, and to place my interest truly into the essence of who each person is and yearns to be. And Lord, please help me remember their names!” (I am so bad at this!) “Please bless our time together, help us to edify and encourage one another, and remain undistracted by other concerns during our visit. Please come into the space between us to unify us for your greater glory.”
- Courtesy. I think we should resurrect the courtesy of formal greeting and leave-taking. I’m trying to move into a “Grace and peace to you” format that I usually forget as greetings take a much more casual turn and the moment is lost. I love getting and giving good-bye hugs, but still stand there wondering if I’ll seem foolish, old-lady-ish, or overly personal if I lunge forward with a hug someone doesn’t want. Still, if you come to my Open House, please say hello on arriving and good-bye on leaving, please. And I’ll do the same when we all meet for book groups or meetings or whatever.
- Be affected. I need to do more than see you. To be present to you is to receive you into my own being and to be affected by you, there. I can’t be present to you without that opening that allows you entrance and makes me somewhat vulnerable to you. I hope I can look into your eyes and that you’ll see yourself loved in mine. I need to do more than hear you. You need to sound in me so that I resonate with you, mirror your movements and expressions, sense the meaning beneath the message on the surface. Just the other day, as I was listening to a friend and being deeply affected by him, one word he said in passing seemed to reverberate in me. I couldn’t shake the sense that this word held much more meaning for him and, as it turns out, it sure did! When I asked why that word was somehow very important or meaningful to him, out came the stories and the emotions elicited by them. It was fascinating to experience the reality that one word could ‘carry’ so much ‘weight’. He hadn’t realized it himself, but as we explored it together it was clear that God had helped my own heart be troubled with a message meant for his healing. What a delicate, lovely instrument the open, affect-able heart is!
Naturally, I am very much interested in your thoughts about how we can better practice the presence of persons. Please let me hear from you!
Live Like This
Just thinking about how I want to live…
Live so completely immersed in the Faith that you must be in a life support suit to go out into the world.
Live so deeply embedded in Catholic culture that you are a living artifact of that culture wherever you interact with others – your gestures, collar, habits of speech, prayer before meals reveal your home of origin.
Live so fully in kairos that chronos does not limit the scope of your being.
Live so richly in Catholic community that your tribe goes into the world with you – at your back when you encounter enemies; at the service of those you serve.
Live so well-ordered to the Truth that you cannot be deceived.
Live in such need of grace that you cannot take a step without prayer.
Live in such tender awareness of pain that your heart is a fountain of mercy.
Live with such bubbling joy that you seem a foolish, childish, strangely attractive person to those who don’t know the secret of your Source.
Live with such keen perception of beauty that the world becomes a wonderland, and the distressing disguises of the persons around you cannot hide Christ.
Let the word of God dwell in you so richly that it resounds in your sounding and is realized in your becoming.
I often think of Mary as a place where I can go to be held, to be with Christ in simplicity. Psalm 27:5 speaks of God as hiding me in His pavilion, His sacred tent, His pavilion, His tabernacle. This shelter, set upon a rock, keeps me safe in the midst of my enemies. The battle may rage around me, but God fights for me with His strong arm while I am at rest – the rest of the eternal Sabbath of the Lord’s presence.
I have the sense of seeing, there, a matrix of woven light that reminds me of the invisible support of the Holy Wisdom, whose light filters through the whole fabric of Creation. That light is intangible, but fully three-dimensional, filling the space with a kind of infrastructure that holds open space, within, for me, for the growing Body of Christ. This place is silent, but vibrates with life, with light. Sound is not far away, but I am buffered from a glory I cannot yet bear. The strands of light here are like crystal strings humming with a music played far away.
Meeting with Christ there, in a womb un-skewed, unstained, un-torn by sin, is to meet where He is most fully realized – Incarnate Word barely veiled by flesh. It is enough for Him just to be, and the effect of His presence upon me is great peace and joy at just being. Love holds me afloat like an ocean, pulsing with the gentle waves of a motherly heartbeat.
Delicious, profoundly restful, beauty-full.
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