Skip to comments.Father Barron’s seven tips for New Evangelization
Posted on 12/21/2012 5:26:51 AM PST by iowamark
When Pope John Paul II described the New Evangelization back in 1983, he said it required new ardor, new methods and new expressions.
Since then, perhaps no priest has embodied those qualities like Father Robert Barron of Chicago.
Through his Word on Fire ministry he has used blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, websites and mobile apps to spread the faith.
Hes evangelized the culture through movie reviews and news commentary. And he released the epic Catholicism film series which has been seen across the world on both Catholic and secular television. Fr. Barron Father Robert Barron. Courtesy of Word on Fire
In May, Father Barron was appointed rector of Chicagos Mundelein Seminary, and Our Sunday Visitor caught up with him there to discuss the New Evangelization, the new media, and whats next for him and his ministry.
Our Sunday Visitor: In your opening message as rector at Mundelein, you laid out the seven great qualities of a new evangelist, of someone living out the New Evangelization. What are these seven marks?
Father Robert Barron: Well, first, you must have a relationship with Jesus Christ. To evangelize is not just to share ideas any theologian or historian could do that. Its to share a relationship, and you cant share what you dont have. Therefore, youve got to be in a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Second, and this is piggybacking on Pope John Paul II, youve got to be a person of ardor. I cited that line from Aristotle where he said, Finally, people only really listen to an excited speaker.
Ive always thought that was dead right. If youre not excited about your message, you wont communicate it effectively. So youve got to have ardor.
Third, youve got to know the story of Israel. Here Im working with people like N.T. Wright and others who say that at the heart of evangelization is the good news that the story of Israel has come to its fulfillment that the promises of God, as Paul said, have all met their Yes! in Jesus. When you abstract Jesus from Israel, you get the bland, spiritual teacher, the contemporary guru-Christ.
Back in the second century, there was a heretic named Marcion, a crypto-Gnostic who said, Get rid of the Old Testament and its witness to an unworthy, fallen deity. Just keep Luke, and some parts of Paul. And the Church said, Absolutely not! to that proposal.
I tell my seminarians, You need to say No! to that as well. Marcions Christ is evangelically uncompelling; you must propose the full story of Israel to be an effective evangelist.
Fourth, youve got to know the culture. Here is Karl Barths famous image of the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. When Pope John Paul II called for new expressions, he was looking for new ways to express the faith to a secular society that has grown rather cold to the Gospel, and that has lost a sense of the transcendent.
This requires you to look for seeds of the word. Within the secular culture, there will always be signs, seeds and indications of the Gospel. So find these seeds, latch onto them, and engage the culture.
Fifth, youve got to love the Great Tradition. We Catholics dont subscribe to sola Scriptura. We dont operate by Scripture alone. Scripture is the heart of theology, yes indeed, but as Blessed John Henry Newman said, it unfolds across space and time. Its like a great river that continually broadens and deepens. We know Christ better because we know him through Augustine, Aquinas, Newman, Chesterton, and through Michelangelo and Dante. To know the great Catholic theological and artistic tradition is key to being a new evangelist.
Sixth, youve got to have a missionary heart. I told my Mundelein students, It should bother everyone in this room that 75 percent of our own Catholic people are not going to Mass.
Vatican II said the Eucharist was the source and summit of the Christian life. It wanted more people at Mass, not less. Yet now, 75 percent of our own people dont even go to Mass regularly? Thats a tragedy.
These are souls who are in serious trouble. And I dont mean that simply in the ultimate sense of heaven and hell. I mean even now. There are many people who are lost, and its because theyve lost contact with God. As St. Augustine said, Our hearts are restless until they rest in God. There are all kinds of people in the secular world who are suffering, because the secular ideology is shutting down the longing of their hearts. So I told the students, You must have a missionary heart; you must be passionate for souls.
Last, youve got to know and use the new media. This explosion in technology is really unprecedented, at least since the time of Gutenberg. I tell my seminary students: Know it; use it; its in your blood. Your generation grew up with this. You grew up with computers, so use them and dont be afraid of technology.
OSV: What advice would you give people on evangelizing through the new media?
Barron: First of all, dont be afraid. Theres a lot of fear surrounding this technology. People think, I dont know it well enough; it can be abused; I might get negative feedback. And thats all true. But anything can be misused computers, telephones, automobiles but we wouldnt hesitate to use those things. Its the same with new media. So, dont be afraid.
Also, when you use them, make sure youre grounded in the old technology of books. You must have something worth saying when you speak. I dont think its a good idea for someone to simply jump into new media for the sake of jumping in. Are you grounded in the theological tradition, in a life of prayer, in the spirituality of the Church? Are you disciplined by the Churchs teaching? If not, then Id say be careful. But if you are, then dont be afraid of new technology and dont neglect the old.
OSV: It must be difficult to follow up your epic Catholicism series, but what are you working on next?
Barron: Well, now that I find myself rector of Mundelein, my main task is to run this great seminary and make sure it flourishes. My goal is to produce priests for the New Evangelization.
Having said that, my Word on Fire ministry still exists, and I have a great staff which continues to help me produce blog posts, videos, podcasts and more.
Right now were working on our next documentary series, this one on the New Evangelization.
For its structure Im using Pope John Paul IIs great description of the movement, one thats new in ardor, methods and expression.
Ive been filming in Australia, England and America, and weve gathered a lot of footage of top Church leaders and people on the ground. My aim is to show whats happening throughout the very secularized world when it comes to evangelization. So thats the next big project for me and Word on Fire.
Father Barron is awesome. We’re using his Christianity Series in our RCIA program. After the Newtown shooting I search youtube for his talk on evil and found it comforting. Last I looked his Christianity Series was on sale on Amazon blueray for $101.
Don’t you mean his “Catholicism” series? Or did he do one called “Christianity” also? I just saw the last episode of “Catholicism” last night. The whole series was excellent.
0pps need more coffee
Father Barron’s WordonFire.org: