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We Need Motivated Christians Who Share Hope

by Pope Francis

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  • Descriptive Title:
    Pope Address to the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization 2013
    Description:
    On October 14, 2013, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the Plenary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation. “In our time we often encounter an attitude of indifference towards faith, which is no longer considered relevant to human life”, he said. “It is important that we Christians demonstrate that we live faith in a concrete way, through love, harmony, joy, suffering, because this gives rise to questions, as at the beginning of the Church's path: why live like this? What is the impetus for our actions? These are questions which lead us to the heart of evangelisation, which is the witness of faith and charity”.
  • Publisher & Date:
    Vatican, October 14, 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet you all and thank you for what you do at the service of the New Evangelization, and for the work for the Year of Faith. My heartfelt thanks! What I would like to say to you today can be summarized in three points: primacy of witness; urgency of going out to encounter; pastoral program centered on the essential.

In our time we often witness an attitude of indifference to faith, regarded as no longer relevant in man’s life. New Evangelization means to reawaken the life of faith in the heart and mind of our contemporaries. Faith is a gift of God, but it is important that we Christians show that we live the faith in a concrete way, through love, concord, joy, suffering, because this elicits questions, as at the beginning of the journey of the Church: Why do they live like this? What drives them? These are questions that go to the heart of evangelization, which is the witness of t faith and charity. What we need especially in these times are credible witnesses who with their life and also with the word render the Gospel visible, rea

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I extend my greetings to you all and thank you for your work at the service of the New Evangelization and of the Year of Faith. You have my heartfelt gratitude! What I would like to tell you today may be summarized in three points: the primacy of witness; the urgency of going out to meet others; the need for a pastoral plan centred on the essential.

1. Often today there is an attitude of indifference toward the faith which regards it as irrelevant for human life. The New Evangelization means reawakening the life of faith in the minds and hearts of our contemporaries. Faith is a gift of God; however, it is important that we Christians demonstrate that we live faith in a concrete way, through love, harmony, joy, suffering, because this gives rise to questions, as those that were raised at the beginning of the Church's journey: Why do they live that way? What urges them on? These are questions which lead straight to the heart of evangelization, to the witness of faith and charity. What we especially need in these times are credible witnesses who make the Gospel visible by their lives as well as by their words, and who reawaken the attraction for Jesus Christ, for the beauty of God.

Many people have drifted away from the Church. It would be a mistake to place the blame on one side or the other; indeed, there is no need even to speak of blame. There were responsibilities in the history of the Church and her men, there were in certain ideologies and also in individuals. As children of the Church we must continue on the journey of the Second Vatican Council and divest ourselves of useless and hurtful things, of false worldly security that weigh down the Church and injure her true face.

We need Christians who make God’s mercy and tenderness for every creature visible to the men of our day. We all know that the crisis of modern man is not superficial but profound. That is why the New Evangelization, while it calls us to have the courage to swim against the tide and to be converted from idols to the true God, cannot but use a language of mercy which is expressed in gestures and attitudes even before words. The Church says as she stands amid humanity today: Come to Jesus, all you who labour and are heavy laden..., and you will find rest for your souls (cf. Mt 11:28-30). Come to Jesus. He alone has the words of eternal life.

Every baptized Christian is a “Christopher”, namely a Christ- bearer, as the Church Fathers used to say. Whoever has encountered Christ like the Samaritan woman at the well cannot keep this experience to himself but feels the need to share it and to lead others to Jesus (cf. Jn 4). We all need to ask ourselves if those who encounter us perceive the warmth of faith in our lives, if they see in our faces the joy of having encountered Christ!

2. Here we pass to the second aspect: encounter, going out to meet others. The New Evangelization is a renewed movement toward those who have lost the faith and a sense of the deep meaning of life. This dynamism is part of Christ’s great mission to bring life to the world, to bring the Father’s love to mankind. The Son of God “went forth” from his divine condition and came to meet us. The Church abides within this movement; every Christian is called to go out to meet others, to dialogue with those who do not think as we do, with those who have another faith or who have no faith. To encounter all, because for what we all share in common is that we were created in the image and likeness of God. We can go out to everyone without fear and without renouncing our membership in the Church.

No one is excluded from life's hope, from God’s love. The Church is sent to reawaken this hope everywhere, especially where it has been suffocated by difficult and oftentimes inhuman living conditions; where hope cannot breathe it suffocates. We need the fresh air of the Gospel, the breath of the Spirit of the Risen Christ, to rekindle it in people’s hearts. The Church is the home where the doors are always open, not only because everyone finds a welcome and is able to breathe in love and hope, but also because we can go out bearing this love and this hope. The Holy Spirit urges us to go beyond our own narrow confines and he guides us to the outskirts of humanity.

3. However, in the Church all of this cannot be left to chance or improvisation. It requires a shared commitment to a pastoral plan which brings us back to the essential and which is solidly focused on the essential; that is, on Jesus Christ. To get diverted by many secondary or superfluous things does not help; what helps is to focus on the fundamental reality, which is the encounter with Christ, with his mercy and with his love, and to love our brothers and sisters as he has loved us. An encounter with Christ is also adoration, a little used word: to adore Christ. We need a plan animated by the creativity and imagination of the Holy Spirit, who also urges us to take new paths with courage without becoming fossils! We might ask ourselves: what is the pastoral plan of our dioceses or parishes like? Does it make the essential visible, namely Jesus Christ? Do the various experiences and features that the Holy Spirit grants journey together in harmony? Or is our pastoral plan dissipated and fragmented, such that in the end everyone goes his own way? In this context I would like to emphasize the importance of catechesis as a moment for evangelization. Pope Paul vi spoke of it some years ago in Evangelii Nuntiandi(cf. n. 44). Starting from there, the great catechetical movement has promoted renewal to overcome the split between the Gospel and culture and the illiteracy that exists today in matters of faith. I have recalled many times something which greatly impressed me in my ministry: meeting children who did not even know how to make the Sign of the Cross! In our cities! The role that catechists play is a truly valuable service for the New Evangelization, and it is important that parents be the first catechists, the first educators of the faith in their own family by their witness and by their word.

Thank you, dear friends, for this visit. I wish you the best in your work! May the Lord bless you and may Our Lady protect you.

© Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013

waken attraction for Jesus Christ, for God’s beauty.

So many people have fallen away from the Church. It’s a mistake to put the blame on one side or the other, in fact, it’s not about talking about fault. There are responsibilities in the history of the Church and of her men, in certain ideologies and also in individual persons. As children of the Church we must continue on the path of Vatican Council II, stripping ourselves of useless and harmful things, of false worldly securities which weigh down the Church and damage her true face.

There is need of Christians who render the mercy of God visible to the men of today, His tenderness for every creature. We all know that the crisis of contemporary humanity is not superficial but profound. Because of this the New Evangelization -- while calling to have the courage to go against the current, to be converted from idols to the only true God --, cannot but use the language of mercy, made up of gestures and attitudes even before words. In the midst of today’s humanity the Church says: Come to Jesus, all you who labor and are heavy laden and you will find rest for your souls (cf. Matthew 11:28-30). Come to Jesus. He alone has the words of eternal life.

Every baptized person is a “cristoforo,” a bearer of Christ, as the ancient holy Fathers said. Whoever has encountered Christ, as the Samaritan woman at the well, cannot keep this experience to him/herself, but has the desire to share it, to bring Jesus to others (cf. John 4). It is for all of us to ask ourselves if one who meets us perceives in our life the warmth of faith, sees in our face the joy of having encountered Christ!

Here we move to the second aspect: the encounter, to go out to encounter others. The New Evangelization is a renewed movement towards him who has lost the faith and the profound meaning of life. This dynamism is part of the great mission of Christ to bring life to the world, the Father’s love to humanity. The Son of God “went out” of his divine condition and came to encounter us. The Church is within this movement; every Christian is called to go out to encounter others, to dialogue with those who do not think the way we do, with those who have another faith, or who don’t have faith. To encounter all because we all have in common our having been created in the image and likeness of God. We can go out  to encounter everyone, without fear and without giving up our membership.

No one is excluded from the hope of life, from the love of God. The Church is sent to reawaken this hope everywhere, especially where it is suffocated by difficult existential conditions, at times inhuman, where hope does not breathe but is suffocated. There is need of the oxygen of the Gospel, of the breath of the Spirit of the Risen Christ, to rekindle it in hearts. The Church is the house whose doors are always open not only so that everyone can find welcome and breathe love and hope, but also because we can go out and bring this love and this hope. The Holy Spirit drives us to go out of our enclosure and guides us to the fringes of humanity.

In the Church all this, however, is not left to chance or improvisation. It calls for a common commitment to a pastoral plan that recalls the essential and that is “well centered on the essential, namely on Jesus Christ. It is no use to be scattered in so many secondary or superfluous things, but to be concentrated on the fundamental reality, which is the encounter with Christ, with his mercy, with his love, and to love brothers as He loved us. A project animated by the creativity and imagination of the Holy Spirit, who drives us also to follow new ways, with courage and without becoming fossilized! We could ask ourselves: how effective is the pastoral of our dioceses and parishes? Does it render the essential visible? Do the different experiences, characteristics, walk together in the harmony that the Spirit gives? Or is our pastoral scattered, fragmentary where, in the end, each one goes his own way?

In this context I would like to stress the importance of catechesis, as an instance of evangelization. Pope Paul VI already did so in the encyclical Evangelii nuntiandi (cf. n. 44). From there the great catechetical movement has carried forward a renewal to surmount the break between the Gospel and the culture and illiteracy of our days in the matter of faith. I have recalled several times a fact that has struck me in my ministry: to meet children who cannot even do the Sign of the Cross! Precious is the service carried out by the catechists for the New Evangelization, and it is important that parents be the first catechists, the first educators of the faith in their own family with their witness and with the word.

Thank you, dear friends, for this visit. Good work! May the Lord bless you and Our Lady protect you.

(October 14, 2013) © Innovative Media Inc.

© Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013

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