Scott Hahn Photo by Evan Boudreau

Jesus key to the new evangelization

  • October 27, 2012

TORONTO - The challenge the Catholic Church faces with the new evangelization is to lead people out of the darkness, theologian and Catholic apologist Scott Hahn told a Toronto audience Oct. 20.

More than 1,400 people came to hear Hahn describe the new evangelization, its challenges and goals at Canada Christian College. He was brought to Canada by Catholic Chapter House for “The New Evangelization! Equipping Yourself To Engage The Culture.”

“Evangelization is the grace and vocation most proper to the Church,” said Hahn. “The new evangelization is new precisely because of the unique needs we now have. It’s re-evangelizing the secular cultures that are on the brink of losing any sense of their own Christian identity.”

A former Presbyterian minister, Hahn joined the Catholic Church in 1986. Since then he has penned 13 books, been awarded a doctorate in systematic theology from Marquette University and is president of St. Paul Centre for Biblical Theology, a Christian think thank in Steubenville, Ohio, which he founded in 2001.

In defining new evangelization, Hahn made note of four principle laws of evangelization: God loves you; you sin; Christ died for your sins; and what are you going to do? By acknowledging these fundamental aspects of Catholic evangelization, one is able to build the foundational personal relationship with Jesus.

“A personal relationship with Jesus is where we all have to begin but it’s only a beginning, it isn’t the end,” said Hahn.

That’s because the new evangelization goes far beyond developing a personal relation by reaching towards an understanding of the covenant of communion that reflects the inner life of God, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The best way to develop, and promote, the connection to one’s faith is through attention to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. In other words, one must be able to see it as a holy sacrifice of Jesus’ body and blood rather than unleavened bread and a chalice of wine. Where people of the past would simply accept this because a priest said it was so, today society demands an understanding of it and that is the goal of new evangelization. Our greatest tool to find this understanding, said Hahn, is the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

“It isn’t something that is just over and done in a day,” he said. “It’s something that you can start anywhere you find yourself but it is always going to lead to the goal of eucharistic communion.”

But new evangelization faces resistance even from those already deeply connected to their Catholic faith. Hahn summarized the common objections to undertaking the task into two categories: Catholics don’t evangelize and it’s not about telling, it’s about action. To both Hahn has one response.

“To be a Catholic is a call to bear witness to our faith no matter where we find ourselves in life. To not share is to not be Catholic.”

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