Earlier this week, noted Scripture scholar and author Dr. Scott Hahn
delivered the inaugural lecture in Christendom College’s Major Speaker
Program, entitled, “The Bible, the Eucharist, and the New
Evangelization.” The press release from Christendom College provides
some highlights from Hahn's address:
face the task of re-evangelizing the de-Christianized,” Hahn said. “The
cause of de-Christianization has been this oppressive secularization,
which doesn’t just cause us to forget the faith, but it causes us to
become more and more distant from those structures that make it real.”
explained that just as human love and relationships lead to a
sacramentMatrimonyso too does our love and relationship with God lead
to a sacramentthe Eucharist. He noted that it was Blessed Pope John
Paul who first called for the new evangelization to be based on the
Eucharist and, citing and a paper by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago,
he said, “all evangelizers proclaim Christ, but Catholic evangelizers
proclaim a Eucharistic Christ.”
there is something else that is new about the new evangelization,” Hahn
said. “It isn’t just for clergy. It isn’t just for missionaries. It
isn’t just for those who go out to the foreign lands. It’s for each and
every single one of us. Not only to go out and share the faith, but also
to allow ourselves to be evangelized and converted.”
debunked the myth that St. Francis said, “preach the Gospel at all times
and use words when necessary,” saying that there is no proof or
historical record of the saint saying those words to his friars.
want to say this to those who use that as an excuse,” he continued.
“Just look in the mirror some evening and ask yourself, ‘Am I so
upright, so virtuous, so compelling that all people really need to do is
just keep their eyes on me and my life and that should be sufficient to
give them the grace of conversion?’ Before you answer that question
yourself, ask your spouse or your roommate. You may be in for a
said that Catholics must not only recognize their need to evangelize,
but also their need to be evangelized themselves in their family life
“Conversion is life long,” he said. “It is ongoing. It is ever deepening. It is daily. And it is also difficult.”
Hahn said that all Catholics are involved in the new evangelization,
but very few Catholics are going to be equipped like Christendom
few Catholics are ever going to be launched like Christendom grads,” he
said. “Let me just ask you those old questions: if you don’t, who will?
And if you wait, when will it happen? And if you say ‘yes,’ I got to
tell you, stand back and watch, because God wants to do more through us
than we want Him to do.”
He encouraged the students to study and pray hard and to take all that they have gained from the college out into the world.
you are learning here is what the world is dying for,” he said. “I hope
that none of you ever get to the point where you take it for granted.
This is one of the largest slices of heaven on earth.”
The entire lecture can be downloaded at Christendom on iTunes U, christendom.edu/itunesu. This past April, America magazine published an article by Hahn, "Mass Evangelization", which covers much of the same material. In that piece, Hahn wrote,
theme of evangelization is indeed relatively new in Catholic circles.
“Evangelizing” is something we had long associated with Protestant
groups that send their members door to door. When we Catholics worried
about the growth of the church, we thought in terms of missions, which
meant, in practical terms, sending a donation to clergy who traveled
overseas. The notion of evangelization was foreign to Catholics. Though
the term and its near relatives are common in the church’s documents
from the second half of the 20th century, one has to strain to find it
before then. In the documents of Vatican I (1869-70), the
word evangelium (Latin for “Gospel”) appears only once, and only then in
reference to the four written Gospels.
If one skips ahead to the
Second Vatican Council (1962-65), however, one will find the root
evangel and its cognatesevangelize, evangelizing, evangelizationmore
than 200 times. These words are used to speak of the act of spreading
the Good News, sharing the message and life of Jesus Christ. Something
had changed between the councils. The popes noticed.
After noting the work of Paul VI regarding evangelizationnotably his underappreciated apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Nuntiandi”Hahn points out that John Paul II was the first to use the term "new evangelization":
Paul VI identified as a matter of primary importance, John Paul II made
a matter of urgency. It was he who gave it a name, “the new
evangelization,” and made it programmatic and pervasive.
first use of the phrase came near the beginning of his reign. During his
first return to Poland in 1979, John Paul addressed a people whose
religious practice had been repressed by Communist overlords, and yet he
had the audacity to preach: “A new evangelization has begun, as if it
were a new proclamation, even if in reality it is the same as ever.”
phrase seemed electric. And yet it did not come up again in his work
until 1983. Then, however, it emerged as something focused, intentional
and programmatic. It defined a vision. That year, speaking to the
bishops of Latin America, John Paul announced that the new
evangelization was to be officially launched in 1992, the 500th
anniversary of the first evangelization of the Americas.
Hahn then looks at the essence of the new evangelization:
then, is the key to the new evangelization? I remember wondering that
myself, back in 1992. As if on cue, I opened L’Osservatore Romano, the
Vatican’s newspaper, and saw the headline: “Base New Evangelization on
Read the entire article
It caught my eye not only because it seemed to answer
my question, but also because it made no sense to me whatsoever. Its
proposal was counterintuitive. The Eucharist, after all, is for the
already initiated, the folks who are showing up for Mass. Evangelization
is supposed to reach outward. Yet the headline sat atop a homily by
Blessed John Paul in which he referred to the Eucharist as the
“beginning” (not the end!) of our outreach, “the source” and “the basis
of the New Evangelization.”
Soon others picked up on this theme.
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago gave an address on Catholicity and
the new evangelization, and he drew the same conclusion: “All
evangelizers proclaim who Christ is; Catholic evangelizers proclaim a
In 2000 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger told a
group of catechists that the church has always begun its evangelistic
efforts at the altar. “The Church always evangelizes and has never
interrupted the path of evangelization. She celebrates the Eucharistic
mystery every day, administers the sacraments, proclaims the word of
lifethe Word of God, and commits herself to the causes of justice and
charity. And this evangelization bears fruit.”
The Mass reminds
us that evangelization is a gift before it is a task. It is receiving
before it is doing. And we cannot share what we do not first possess.
. Also, Hahn's personal website has a very helpful listing
of texts and articles about the new evangelization.