Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Voice Unsilenced: The Need for the New Springtime of Evangelization

I struggle at times to balance what is my voice and the One who sends me. I struggle to see through what are my own vain attempts of vainglory for my own sake rather than that of Christ, Our Lord. I struggle to see the good of being vocal for the sake of righteousness. I struggle because there is conflict in being vocal, even among the Faithful. I struggle to see because of the gifts the Lord has given me, the calling He has given me isn't one that is as clear cut as I wish. It is a path that straddles many different is a path into the Wilderness.

I feel the great pull of inspiration both to create (the poems and prose) and also to speak out of what I have learned and have heard through those who have been placed in my life (the evangelization). If I remain silent, I reject the gift. If I speak out, I am at odds with rules set forth for good reason. As Peter and John said in Acts: "It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:20) And so I am torn in spirit and in flesh of what to do. I have felt anger for what seems to be foolishness, to silence the Truth for the sake of the Law. It is a silencing of the Truth that disturbs me so. I understand that which is set forth for good execution of evangelization by the Church, the Body of Christ.

However, I am also reminded increasingly of John Paul II's call for a "new springtime of evangelization." And what tools do we have here! What amazing blessings the Lord has bestowed to put this into action. And yet, in my stubbornness and impatience, I am dismayed at the delay. I see inaction where there should be action, from myself and from others. In these five years here at Texas A&M, I see a striking need for further evangelization of the campus and of the community.

It is almost as though we remain ensconced in the marble temple and not tread forth into the malaise of the moment. We are a community of the Spirit, yes, but we still have so much to do. It can be accounted to be our nature to remain at rest in what is comfortable, but I sincerely believe we have an earnest and compelling call to go forth without fear, preaching to the nations, to our neighbors the Good News given! And how good it is!

I feel the following to be my resounding foundation for what drives me to further service, Paul VI's Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi:
But evangelization would not be complete if it did not take account of the unceasing interplay of the Gospel and of man's concrete life, both personal and social. This is why evangelization involves an explicit message, adapted to the different situations constantly being realized, about the rights and duties of every human being, about family life without which personal growth and development is hardly possible, about life in society, about international life, peace, justice and development- a message especially energetic today about liberation. (par. 29)

We must meet each in their concrete life, and not merely rest on what was stated in catechesis. We should be out there helping the lost in applying the Gospel to speak directly to what is occurring within their own lives. It is the mustard seed to which sprouts a huge bush, a contradiction of thought—the small seed of Faith into something so much greater in size.

Of great importance then too is the "how" of evangelization, which Paul VI further addresses in Evangelii Nuntiandi:
The obvious importance of the content of evangelization must not overshadow the importance of the ways and means.

This question of "how to evangelize" is permanently relevant, because the methods of evangelizing vary according to the different circumstances of time, place and culture, and because they thereby present a certain challenge to our capacity for discovery and adaptation.

On us particularly, the pastors of the Church, rests the responsibility for reshaping with boldness and wisdom, but in complete fidelity to the content of evangelization, the means that are most suitable and effective for communicating the Gospel message to the men and women of our times.

Let it suffice, in this meditation, to mention a number of methods which, for one reason or another, have a fundamental importance.
(par. 40)

Of great importance too is the means of evangelization and the need for communication that is both broad in reach but specific and personal in calling:
Our century is characterized by the mass media or means of social communication, and the first proclamation, catechesis or the further deepening of faith cannot do without these means, as we have already emphasized.

When they are put at the service of the Gospel, they are capable of increasing almost indefinitely the area in which the Word of God is heard; they enable the Good News to reach millions of people. The Church would feel guilty before the Lord if she did not utilize these powerful means that human skill is daily rendering more perfect. It is through them that she proclaims "from the housetops"[72] the message of which she is the depositary. In them she finds a modern and effective version of the pulpit. Thanks to them she succeeds in speaking to the multitudes.

Nevertheless the use of the means of social communication for evangelization presents a challenge: through them the evangelical message should reach vast numbers of people, but with the capacity of piercing the conscience of each individual, of implanting itself in his heart as though he were the only person being addressed, with all his most individual and personal qualities, and evoke an entirely personal adherence and commitment.
(par. 45)

In all of this discovery I have received in these past five years, I feel there is more I must do before I leave my current station, but the eagerness to go forth is increasing by day. I am concerned, though I have reached the end here. I am dismayed to a certain extent of what is to come and where I should go.

I must remember, however, John Paul II's exhortation: "Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence."

And so too we should be reminded here of the substratum of John Paul II's words:
"Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you." - Philippians 4:6-9

And so this is my calling, a voice unsilenced that continues to speak. I pray it is never separated from the Truth. I pray that I remain faithful to the One who calls me by name, no matter the storminess of the seas.

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