Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles says that the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization has brought together hundreds of bishops from around the world who want to “reawaken the missionary call of all the faithful” – a call that is for everyone.
“There are no ‘magic solutions’ to the challenge we face in these times. But there is an urgency to bring the good news of the Gospel to our world!” Archbishop Gomez wrote in his Oct. 19 column in the archdiocesan newspaper The Tidings.
“The new evangelization begins with our personal encounter with Jesus Christ,” he continued. “It grows with the action of the Holy Spirit in our souls. We need to realize -- all of us -- that the new evangelization is our own personal responsibility.”
Archbishop Gomez is presently in Vatican City for the Oct. 7-28 synod. He said that the gathering of almost 300 cardinals and bishops is a “beautiful expression” of the universality of the Catholic Church.
Pope Benedict XVI, he said, has been “a lively presence.” The Pope has attended most synod sessions and has concelebrated two Masses with the bishops.
“I am happy to report that the Pope is doing well. He is in good health and has been paying close attention to the presentations,” Archbishop Gomez said.
The Pope told the synod that the Church exists to evangelize. He said the Church’s mission has two parts: first, to evangelize those who do not yet know Jesus and the good news of salvation; second, to engage in the “new evangelization” for the baptized Christians who have “drifted away from the Church and live without reference to the Christian life.”
Archbishop Gomez summarized other prominent speakers’ remarks at the synod.
Archbishop Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, told the synod that the New Evangelization should begin in Jerusalem. Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow said that the New Evangelization should proclaim God’s “divine mercy” to touch “the deepest chords of the human heart.”
Archbishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago of León, Spain stressed the importance of popular piety, noting pilgrimages to Mexico City’s Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe are occasions for conversion and return to the faith.
From Ireland, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin described the effects of the International Eucharistic Congress held earlier this year.
Archbishop Gomez gave his own presentation that discussed how people are “hungry for God.”
“The ordinary means of sanctification have not changed, but the ways people are living have changed,” he said. “So we need to find new ways to help people practice their faith in this globalized culture.”
He said Catholics need to find the language that presents “the traditional means of sanctification” like the sacraments, prayer and charity “in a way that is attractive and accessible to people living in the reality of a globalized, secular, urban society.”
Catholics, he added, are called to be saints. The New Evangelization must help men and women “find the pathways to holiness in their ordinary lives in this ‘globalized world.’”
The archbishop concluded his column with a request for prayers for him during the synod. He prayed that the Virgin Mary help Catholics “make this Year of Faith the beginning of the new evangelization.”
Archbishop Gomez recently released his Oct. 2 pastoral letter to the Catholics of the Los Angeles archdiocese on the New Evangelization. He asked Catholics to witness to the “New World” of faith.