"Let Us Put Away All Blindness To the Truth"
“The new evangelization applies to the whole of the Church’s life. It applies, in the first instance, to the ordinary pastoral ministry that must be more animated by the fire of the Spirit, so as to inflame the hearts of the faithful who regularly take part in community worship and gather on the Lord’s day to be nourished by his word and by the bread of eternal life. I would like here to highlight three pastoral themes that have emerged from the Synod. The first concerns the sacraments of Christian initiation. It has been reaffirmed that appropriate catechesis must accompany preparation for Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. The importance of Confession, the sacrament of God’s mercy, has also been emphasized. This sacramental journey is where we encounter the Lord’s call to holiness, addressed to all Christians. In fact it has often been said that the real protagonists of the new evangelization are the saints: they speak a language intelligible to all through the example of their lives and their works of charity.
Secondly, the new evangelization is essentially linked to the Missio ad Gentes. The Church’s task is to evangelize, to proclaim the message of salvation to those who do not yet know Jesus Christ. During the Synod, it was emphasized that there are still many regions in Africa, Asia and Oceania whose inhabitants await with lively expectation, sometimes without being fully aware of it, the first proclamation of the Gospel. So we must ask the Holy Spirit to arouse in the Church a new missionary dynamism, whose progatonists are, in particular, pastoral workers and the lay faithful. Globalization has led to a remarkable migration of peoples. So the first proclamation is needed even in countries that were evangelized long ago. All people have a right to know Jesus Christ and his Gospel: and Christians, all Christians – priests, religious and lay faithful – have a corresponding duty to proclaim the Good News.
A third aspect concerns the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism. During the Synod, it was emphasized that such people are found in all continents, especially in the most secularized countries. The Church is particularly concerned that they should encounter Jesus Christ anew, rediscover the joy of faith and return to religious practice in the community of the faithful. Besides traditional and perennially valid pastoral methods, the Church seeks to adopt new ones, developing new language attuned to the different world cultures, proposing the truth of Christ with an attitude of dialogue and friendship rooted in God who is Love. In various parts of the world, the Church has already set out on this path of pastoral creativity, so as to bring back those who have drifted away or are seeking the meaning of life, happiness and, ultimately, God. We may recall some important city missions, the “Courtyard of the Gentiles”, the continental mission, and so on. There is no doubt that the Lord, the Good Shepherd, will abundantly bless these efforts which proceed from zeal for his Person and his Gospel.
Dear brothers and sisters, Bartimaeus, on regaining his sight from Jesus, joined the crowd of disciples, which must certainly have included others like him, who had been healed by the Master. New evangelizers are like that: people who have had the experience of being healed by God, through Jesus Christ. And characteristic of them all is a joyful heart that cries out with the Psalmist: “What marvels the Lord worked for us: indeed we were glad” (Ps 125:3).
Today, we too turn to the Lord Jesus, Redemptor hominis and lumen gentium, with joyful gratitude, making our own a prayer of Saint Clement of Alexandria: “until now I wandered in the hope of finding God, but since you enlighten me, O Lord, I find God through you and I receive the Father from you, I become your coheir, since you did not shrink from having me for your brother. Let us put away, then, let us put away all blindness to the truth, all ignorance: and removing the darkness that obscures our vision like fog before the eyes, let us contemplate the true God ...; since a light from heaven shone down upon us who were buried in darkness and imprisoned in the shadow of death, [a light] purer than the sun, sweeter than life on this earth” (Protrepticus, 113: 2 – 114:1). Amen.”
Homily at the Closing Mass
of the XIII General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops
on the New Evangelization "for the transmission of the Christian Faith"
St Peter's Basilica
28 October 2012
As the last three weeks have been rather eventful, though – and, at least in some parts, the coming storm offers some time to brush up – lest anyone could use a quick recap on the highlights of the now-concluded Synod, here's a month's worth of fulltexts or reports on the event's earlier key moments (in chronological order):
- B16's Opening Homily (7 October)
- The Pope's impromptu first-day remarks to the gathering's initial business session (8 October)
- As the Synod's lead spokesman, Cardinal Donald Wuerl's pre-discussion report (8 October)
- A roundup on the first group of the assembly's interventions (10 October)
- The historic address of the departing Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams (10 October)
- Benedict XVI's homily at the opening of the Year of Faith, marking the 50th anniversary of Vatican II (11 October)
- Pope's "Moonlight Speech" to a candlelight vigil marking Council's anniversary (11 October)
- Papal address to surviving Vatican II fathers present in Rome and presidents of the world's episcopal conferences (12 October)
- Wuerl's post-discussion report (17 October)
- Announcement of a 24 November consistory for the creation of six new cardinals (24 October)
- Synod's closing Message to the People of God (26 October)
- The assembly's list of 58 final Propositions for the formal "last word" – B16's eventual Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation (27 October)
- Benedict's final working remarks to assembly and announcement of changes in the Roman Curia (27 October)