Monday, June 30, 2014

Evangelizing Catholics (Our Sunday Visitor)

The New Evangelization is the latest buzz phrase in the Catholic world. Everyone is using it, and it seems like there's always a new Catholic book being written on the subject. Ralph Martin addresses the subject in The Urgency of the New Evangelization, and Cardinal Wuerl also had his say in his book New Evangelization: Passing on the Catholic Faith Today. In one of his latest books, Evangelizing Catholics, Dr. Scott Hahn has decided to weigh in on the matter as well.

The book is divided into three parts - The Call, The Response, and The Message. Part I - The Call goes into detail on what the New Evangelization is, including what it is; where/when it started and how its grown; how it is a Catholic reality; and how it is a mission for the whole Church. If you are familiar at all with the New Evangelization most of this information won't be new to you. It was interesting to read his description of three notable byproducts (read conversions) due to the New Evangelization. These three names are Abby Johnson (former Planned Parenthood worker, Kevin James (Hollywood actor), and Francis Beckwith (former President of the Evangelical Theological Society). Each came to the Catholic Church through different means, but all were results of the New Evangelization.

Part II - The Response shows different models and methods in the New Evangelization. The first two chapters in this section look at the Gospels and the Early Church for lessons. Dr. Hahn says that the "blueprint for the New Evangelization can be found in the Gospels of Matthew and John. These lessons include - 1. Proclaim a Person (Jesus), 2. Proclaim by Words and Deeds, 3. Proclaim the Church, 4. Proclaim the Fulfillment of the Covenant, and 5. Proclaim the Sacraments. After these two chapters are my favorite two chapters in the book. Chapter 8 puts the emphasis on evangelization beginning at home, and I wholeheartedly agree. Even if you go to weekly Mass and send your kids to Catholic schools, it is still up to you to instruct your children in the way of the Faith. Chapter 9 explains the different between a ministry (reserved for clergy) and an apostolate (reserved for laity). He also clears up the muddy waters of the role of clergy and the role of laity. Using St. Paul's example of being one body but different members, he lets us know that is not the eye's (clergy) job to be an ear (laity) or vice-versa. Feel free to substitute whatever body parts you want for that example. The point is we each have a part in the Church, and we shouldn't overstep our bounds and try to do what is not ours to do.

Part III - The Message talks about the subjects of sin, atonement, covenants, and love. In these chapters, Dr. Hahn not only lays out the content of the New Evangelization and puts it clearly that conversion is a lifelong process. There is no "once saved always saved." We must be ready evangelizers and ready to be evangelized. When it comes down to it, the New Evangelization isn't just about converting the "unsaved" but also about educating the faithful. The book closes with two realities - 1. everyone dies and 2. everyone who died lives on in heaven, hell, or purgatory. Where will you spend the rest of it? As with all of Dr. Hahn's books they make you think, this one is no different. If you have an interest in the New Evangelization, check out this book and the others mentioned at the beginning of this review.

This book was provided to me for free by Our Sunday Visitor. If you have found this review helpful, click here and hit Yes!