In the video above, Fr. Barron lays out the seven qualities of a “New Evangelist”–priests who would be active agents in carrying out the New Evangelization Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict have called for.
Fr. Barron has made the formation of New Evangelists the primary mission Mundelein. A vision that, I have no doubt, will draw many young men to this seminary in search of the tools needed to save souls in the future.
But in what sense do these seven qualities make a New Evangelist new? And how will they differ from evangelists that have come before?
To answer that defines the core of what the New Evangelization is all about.
The 7 Qualities of a New Evangelist
According to Fr. Barron, a New Evangelist must:
- Be in love with Jesus Christ. Evangelization is sharing a relationship with Christ, and you can’t give what you don’t have.
- Be filled with ardor. John Paul II said the New Evangelization must be new in ardor or fire.
- Know the story of Israel. In other words, they must know salvation history.
- Know the culture. You have to know what your audience is thinking, what their concerns and fears are, what is consuming their thoughts and attention, in order to address these and present Christ as the solution.
- Love the Great Tradition. Part of the strength and power of Catholicism is that we stand on the shoulders of spiritual giants. We have thousands of years of interpretive history at our disposal, the thoughts of men and women far more intelligent and holy people that we can draw from. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel…we can build on a sure foundation of greatness. And this includes great art and literature.
- Have a missionary heart. The Catholic Church is hemorrhaging members to Protestantism and Agnosticism. Three quarters of Catholics don’t attend Mass! You must hunger to keep them and bring them into active relationship with Christ to be a New Evangelist.
- Know and love the New Media.
So, what’s new?
With the exception of #7, the New Media, what in here is new? In a sense, you could say that these are the qualities that made great evangelists from St. Paul on down.
But I would have to say, that is exactly the point. The first six are qualities are essential aspects of evangelists, and #7 is what makes them new.
What we need to accomplish this New Evangelization is a re-discovery of what has always worked combined with the use of new methods for implementation. In calling for the New Evangelization in 1983, Blessed John Paul II said it should be “new in its ardor, new in its methods, and new in its means of expression.”
However, in Novo Millennio Ineunte, John Paul also wrote, “It is not therefore a matter of inventing a ‘new program.’ The program already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and the living Tradition, it is the same as ever. Ultimately, is has its center in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved and imitated.”
The program should not be different from what has worked for centuries. But it must have a new vitality (ardor), be adapted to the current culture (expression), and be implemented using the new strategies available through New Media and the Social Web (methods).
How the New Media makes things new
The New Media is an indispensable part of the equation.
The paradigm of the New Media is listening. The amazing thing about the social web is the ability to peer into the cares, concerns, and problems of a target group and address them. You don’t have to wonder what they’re thinking…they tell you. And, you can address these concerns using the the same language they’re using.
The paradigm of the Church has always been broadcasting. The Church proclaims a message, people hear and respond. It’s mostly a one-way street, and that’s precisely what has been hindering the Church’s message in the modern world. People now want a dialogue. They want to be heard. They want to have input. They want interaction.
The Church wishes to address the anxieties of the culture, the search for meaning, and the yearning for more from life. The Church has the answer to the meaning of human existence. It is Jesus Christ.
The New Media will help New Evangelists express their love for Christ, their ardor, the story of Israel, and the Great Tradition in the language that seekers are using to search for meaning and truth.
In this way, the truly new quality of the New Evangelist, the New Media, will become the vehicle for the other proven qualities and channel their missionary hearts for the New Evangelization.