Sunday, December 27, 2009

John Paul II and the New Evangelization: How You Can Bring the Good News to Others

Edited by Ralph Martin and Peter Williamson, Servant Books, 324 pages,

At first glance John Paul II and the New Evangelization takes the pontiff's call for a new evangelization as a basis for a series of essays by American Catholic leaders engaged in spreading the Gospel. The book indicates the extent to which at least some parts of the Church have integrated the various teachings of the late pope into their own Catholic lives and the actions of the Church leadership.

One essay echoes John Paul's insight on contemporary Western culture: “Western culture is failing because its Christian roots are eroding. This failing culture has reached its lowest point in the emerging culture of death, which is antithetical to what John Paul II called the culture of life in the 1995 encyclical Evangelical Vitae. There are four specific roots to the culture of death: individual autonomy, a debased notion of freedom as detached from objective truth, the eclipse of the sense of God and, in consequence, of the human person and the darkening of human conscience.”

This choice of words most probably reflects the fact that the pontiff's prophetic stance against secularism and individualism has become mainstream in the Church, and has replaced the liberal socialist-feminism of the 1970s and '80s as the dominant stance of the Church speaking to the world, something akin to a Catholic neo-traditionalism.

This books reflects the fact that the pontificate of Pope John Paul II gave sense and closure to Vatican II and have become normative for contemporary Catholicism – and Christianity as a whole -- the world over.

Another example from this book that reflects the mind of Vatican II-John Paul II, a second contributor writes that “For centuries many thought the only way to holiness lay in monastic life or in religious orders, which often adapted monastic spirituality. The word is out: Jesus wants everyone to be holy!...For that to happen, each one of us must hear the Good News and respond.”

These words neatly encapsulate the masculine, assertive, lay-oriented spirituality of the late pontiff.

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