Last night, I appeared on the Joe Miller Unplugged show featured on the Fiat Ministry Network for my first television interview. Among the many things we discussed, we focused on evangelization, but specifically, the New Evangelization. The New Evangelization, a concept at the core of this blog, is the same thing as the old evangelization, but it’s the renewal of the Gospel message using the tools of social media, film, and technology to promote the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church to places and lands that have already heard it.
Furthermore, the New Evangelization calls baptized Catholics to preach the Gospel to all people we encounter, and to do it with joy. As baptized Christians, it’s at our very core to be missionaries, even to people (our families, coworkers, and social circles) that have heard the Gospel message already. As Pope Francis says in Evangelii Gaudium,
“When the Church summons Christians to take up the task of evangelization, she is simply pointing to the source of authentic personal fulfillment. For ‘here we discover a profound law of reality: that life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others. This is certainly what mission means.’ Consequently, an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!”
In the interview, we also talked about the Blessed Virgin Mary, the weekly series which this post is now part of, and what the Church teaches about the Annunciation and the Immaculate Conception. So for today’s blog post I am going to unite these two elements – the New Evangelization and Mary, and give you the words of Pope Francis in the aforementioned Apostolic Exhortation.
The “Star of the New Evangelization’ is the title given to Pope St. John Paul II to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Focusing on Mary’s title as the ‘Star of the New Evangelization’, the Holy Father says,
“We ask the Mother of the living Gospel to intercede that this invitation to a new phase of evangelization will be accepted by the entire ecclesial community. Mary is the woman of faith, who lives and advances in faith, and “her exceptional pilgrimage of faith represents a constant point of reference for the Church. Mary let herself be guided by the Holy Spirit on a journey of faith towards a destiny of service and fruitfulness. Today we look to her and ask her to help us proclaim the message of salvation to all and to enable new disciples to become evangelizers in turn. Along this journey of evangelization we will have our moments of aridity, darkness and even fatigue. Mary herself experienced these things during the years of Jesus’ childhood in Nazareth: “This is the beginning of the Gospel, the joyful good news. However, it is not difficult to see in that beginning a particular heaviness of heart, linked with a sort of night of faith – to use the words of Saint John of the Cross – a kind of ‘veil’ through which one has to draw near to the Invisible One and to live in intimacy with the mystery. And this is the way that Mary, for many years, lived in intimacy with the mystery of her Son, and went forward in her pilgrimage of faith”.
There is a Marian “style” to the Church’s work of evangelization. Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness. In her we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but of the strong who need not treat others poorly in order to feel important themselves. Contemplating Mary, we realize that she who praised God for “bringing down the mighty from their thrones” and “sending the rich away empty” (Lk 1:52-53) is also the one who brings a homely warmth to our pursuit of justice. She is also the one who carefully keeps “all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). Mary is able to recognize the traces of God’s Spirit in events great and small. She constantly contemplates the mystery of God in our world, in human history and in our daily lives. She is the woman of prayer and work in Nazareth, and she is also Our Lady of Help, who sets out from her town “with haste” (Lk 1:39) to be of service to others. This interplay of justice and tenderness, of contemplation and concern for others, is what makes the ecclesial community look to Mary as a model of evangelization. We implore her maternal intercession that the Church may become a home for many peoples, a mother for all peoples, and that the way may be opened to the birth of a new world. It is the Risen Christ who tells us, with a power that fills us with confidence and unshakeable hope: “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5).”
So as we begin our workweek this Monday, let us ask for the intercession of Mary as the ‘Star of the New Evangelization’ to help us bring the Gospel message of Jesus Christ to all those we encounter with joy, enthusiasm, and passion. Let us build relationships with people so they may see our relationship with Christ and have the desire to develop and form a relationship with Him as well.