The impression I have gotten from most references to the “New Evangelization” is to new media. As technology evolves and changes, we need to access those technologies for the Kingdom. And to some extent, we have, through radio, television, websites, online news papers, blogs like this, podcasting, youtube videos, even through twitter and facebook and online fora. Fantastic! We should absolutely be using these tools. But, it was not primarily incorporating new media which Pope John Paul called for in his demand for a new evangelization. No, he is calling for all of us, as believers and Catholics, to spread the Gospel ourselves.
He recognized that in recent history we have lost a huge chunk of the population in countries that were originally Catholic. While Communism is largely defeated, secularism reigns supreme. Material comfort is sought, and the Gospel is discomforting. The Gospel reminds us that we are vulnerable, that we are fallen, demands action, demands our own sacrifice. And the Gospel has become unpopular. We can be good enough on our own becomes the mantra for the age. Heaven is what you make of it, and Hell no longer exists. Love is self-pleasure. So what use have we for the Gospel?
This empty, hollow existence needs to be rocked with the Rock, and we are the people chosen and sent forth, week after week, to do it! The problem with equating the “New Evangelization” with new media is two-fold. Many are unequipped to delve into new media Evangelization. Very few of us can set up a radio or television station. Building a successful website can be tricky. Not all are gifted writers. So it can be easy to write a check or two and pat ourselves on the back for contributing to the New Evangelization, returning to business as usual.
The secondary problem, for those who are able to actively evangelize through new media, is the loss of person-to-person contact. The Gospel is Presence. The Gospel is Person. God calls men and women and sends them to other men and women. The new media is faceless. Print is easily misconstrued. Radio and television are carefully constructed to meet the needs of advertisers with population goals. There is so much potential to be distracted or to forget our focus.
So that is why the new media needs to be supported with active believers who are living the fullness of their faith. Not a Sunday obligation kind of faith, but a Holy Spirit filled, agape, living and breathing kind of faith. The new media presents many opportunities, but we are sent to be the harvesters and people are our harvest. As Blessed Pope John Paul II reminds us: “Be not afraid!”