The new evangelisation of countries and environments which are in great measure secularised, means that it is among many of the baptised where a new catechesis in the Faith and moral principles is required, sometimes implying new pastoral and apostolic initiatives.
Secularism seeks to exclude the role of religion in public life and, as a consequence, to set up a culture without God. It seems to affirm human autonomy and power but, paradoxically, in the end it can obscure even the most fundamental truths about human dignity and related natural institutions, such as marriage and family. In this context, the New Evangelisation implies an appeal to each person and the whole of society to rediscover the purifying role of faith towards human reason and its elevating effect on it.
The Church’s mission of announcing the Gospel to the world involves clergy and laity alike. In fact, the laity are called to act within the temporal order to build a society imbued with Gospel values, shaping society in a Christian way As Saint Josemaría Escrivá – one of the forerunners of the conciliar teaching at Vatican 2 – said, “The layman’s specific role in the mission of the Church is precisely that of sanctifying secular reality, the temporal order, the world, ab intra, in an immediate and direct way” (Conversations, n. 9), This requires, in the words of Cardinal Newman, “a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but those who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold, and what they do not, who know their creed so well, that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it, I want an intelligent, well-instructed laity… You ought to be able to bring out what you feel and what you mean, as well as to feel and mean it” (The Present Position of Catholics in England, 390-1).
However, for this role, all of us require a deep and solid spiritual life and a thorough grounding in the faith. New Evangelisation, therefore, implies that everyone needs to know their Christian doctrine better, and all need an awareness of what the universal call to holiness means for them. On one occasion, during the second Vatican Council, Archbishop Marty, later Cardinal of Paris, in conversation with the then Mgr Escrivá, said that the task of the laity was to make the temporal order Christian, and the Opus Del founder answered: “Yes, as long as they have a contemplative soul, otherwise they will Christianise nothing and worse still they themselves will be transformed and instead of making the world Christian, they will let themselves become worldly” All of us need to realise that as the priestly ministry does not exist for its own sake, but for the formation of the Christian community, the – shepherds of God’s flock – celebrate the Sacraments so that the faithful may receive the force that will enable them to transform the world. Nonetheless, priests must dedicate themselves to the preaching of the Gospel, and to catechetical activities, in such a way that the Christian message is presented in all its dimensions. In this task of announcing the truths of God and humanity, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is an important instrument to explain to everyone the power and beauty of a faith that changes their lives. Obstacles in the mission of re-evangelising peoples and cultures should not make us lose courage. History teaches us that the Church, following its divine Master, and by the grace of the Holy Spirit, rises again many times. Saint Paul advises us all. Even though he is speaking tp elders: “Show yourself a model for believers, by word, conduct, charity, faith, purity… Commit yourself to reading, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the spiritual gift that is within you, which has been conferred upon you by a prophetic intervention accompanied by the imposition of the hands of the college of priests” (1 Tim 4, 12-14).