The Painful Truth about the New Evangelization

Girl praying with sombreness

The Painful Truth about the New Evangelization


When you think of the term New Evangelization, what comes to mind?

I think that many people associate the New Evangelization with a more robust living of the Catholic faith, one that will theoretically convict people of the beauty of the Christian life by seeing it in action.

Others seem to associate it with traditional Catholic programs done with more heart, more zeal, more umpff. Or maybe it means more programs! Lot’s more programs. Because unbelievers are just dying to join more parish programs, right?

I want to propose something else that we should associate with the New Evangelization- pain. The New Evangelization should hurt.

What do I mean by that? I mean two things. First, it entails work. Not work in the sense of sometimes thinking about it, or talking about it, but work in the sense of doing it. We are being called to bring people to Jesus. We are called, each of us, to share Jesus with the people we can reach, however we can. The Catechism says that this goes beyond a wordless witness, that “the true apostle is on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers.. or to the faithful.” (905)

If you want to be a true apostle, it means you are willing to work to find ways to announce Christ by word, be it in intentional conversation, leading a small group faith study, sharing what God has done for your life, or some other means where you are saying the name of JESUS.

This means putting hours in, putting yourself out there, leaving your comfort zone, risking rejected invitations. These things we may associate with fear of hurt feelings, but like exercising a new muscle, that’s a good kind of pain. 

The second thing I mean is that we should feel the pain, the ache that Jesus feels in his longing for us. His heart aches for each of us.

Cardinal Schonborn, in speaking about a tool for evangelization that I happen to love, said:

“You know, the real move for evangelization is that you must feel Jesus longing for us. He wants to be with us. He has a desire to meet us, and if this desire of Jesus is within us then… inevitably grows the desire in us to evangelize."

For each of us, in a personal way, the New Evangelization has to go from being an idea or a slogan, to a deep, aching, yearning in the heart. We must feel Jesus longing for us, and with him, long for others.

For each of us, the New Evangelization has to go from being an idea or a slogan to a deep yearning in the heart.

Sobering fact: I read a recent Pew Forum poll that said 30% of Catholics identified God as an “impersonal force”, and that only 48% of Catholics were absolutely certain that you could have a personal relationship with God.

Less than half of our people are grasping the entire meaning of Christianity. Does that not break your heart?

If the New Evangelization is meant to usher in a new springtime, we are still in the season that comes before Spring. We need to face this winter head on, even though it hurts.

If I’m right and the New Evangelization entails pain, should we be sad, downtrodden? No! So much joy is gained by working to draw others to the one we have drawn near to. We have a mission in this time. He will help us, and he will draw us even closer to him in the process. Philip called Nathaniel to where he himself was going, and they went together (cf. John 1:46). We can do this, too!

Does your heart ache for people to know Jesus? Are you willing to work yourself tired and sore for the New Evangelization?

Good. Let's feel the pain together. 

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Are you willing to work yourself tired and sore for the New Evangelization? — Josh Canning

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