The Synod for the New Evangelization begins tomorrow inRome. John Allen has a helpful FAQ on the Synod here. I’ve been reading through the instrumentum laboris, the working document for the Synod and found a passage I particularly liked. It reminded me of Karl Rahner’s suggestion many years ago that we needed new “short formulas” of Christian Faith:
The Christian faith is not simply teachings, wise sayings, a code of morality or a tradition. The Christian faith is a true encounter and relationship with Jesus Christ. Transmitting the faith means to create in every place and time the conditions which lead to this encounter between the person and Jesus Christ. The goal of all evangelization is to create the possibility for this encounter, which is, at one and the same time, intimate, personal, public and communal. Pope Benedict XVI stated: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. [...] Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere ‘command’; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us.” In the Christian faith, the encounter with Christ and the relationship with him takes place “in accordance to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3, 4). The Church is formed precisely through the grace of this relationship.
This encounter with Jesus, through his Spirit, is the Father’s great gift to humanity. We are prepared for this encounter through the action of grace in us. In such an encounter, we feel an attraction which leads to our transformation, causing us to see new dimensions to who we are and making us partakers of divine life (cf. 2 Pt 1:4). After this encounter, everything is different as a result of metanoia, that is, the state of conversion strongly urged by Jesus himself (cf. Mk 1:15). In a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, faith takes the form of a relationship with him and in remembrance of him, especially in the Eucharist and the Word of God, and creates in us the mind of Christ, through the Spirit, a mentality which makes us recognize our brothers and sisters, gathered by the Spirit in his Church, and, in turn, see ourselves as witnesses and heralds of this Gospel. This encounter equips us to do new things and witness to the transformation of our lives in the works of conversion as announced by the prophets (cf. Jer 3:6 ff; Ez 36:24-36).
Some other good resources for reflection on the purposes of the Synod include Pope Paul VI’s 1975 Apostolic Exhortation Evangeli Nuntiandi, Cardinal Wuerl’s pastoral letter Disciples of the Lord: Sharing the Vision, and the USCCB’s resource page on the New Evangelization.