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|Pontifical Work for Ecclesiastical Vocations|
New Vocations for New Europe
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12. All of this opens up new directions and requires that a new impulse be given to the very process of evangelisation of the old and the new Europe. For some time now the Church and the present Pope have been asking for a profound renewal of the contents and method of proclaiming the Gospel, "in order to make the Church of the twentieth century ever more able to proclaim the Gospel to the people of the twentieth century".(11) And, as we have been reminded by the Congress, "there is no need to be afraid of being in a period of passing from one shore to the other".(12)
a) The "ever" and the "new"
This is a question of joining together the "ever" and the "new" of the Gospel, to offer it to the new questions and conditions of the man and woman of today. It is urgent therefore to propose again the heart or the centre of the kerygma as "eternally good news", rich with life and meaning for the young person living in Europe, as the proclamation which can respond to his expectations and enlighten his search.
Tension and challenge especially concentrate around these points. On this depends the image of man which is to be realised and the great decisions of life, of the future of the person and of humanity; of the meaning of freedom, of the relationship between subjectivity and objectivity, of the mystery of life and death, of loving and suffering, of work and pleasure.
It is necessary to clarify the relation between praxis and truth, between personal historical moment and universal definitive future or between good received and good given, between awareness of gift and choice of life. We know that it is precisely around these points that there arises even a certain crisis of meaning, from which derives an antivocational culture and an image of man without vocation.
Therefore it is from here that the path of the new evangelisation must begin, in order to evangelise life and the meaning of life, the demand for freedom and subjectivity, the sense of being for the world and of being in relationship with others.
From this a vocational culture and a model of man open to the call can emerge. So that the good news of the Lord's resurrection will not be lacking in a Europe which is profoundly redesigning itself; the same Lord in whose blood scattered peoples are reunited and those far away become close, breaking down "the dividing wall of hostility" (Eph 2, 14). We can we even say that vocation is the very heart of the new evangelisation on the threshold of the third millennium. It is the call of God to man for a new season of truth and liberty, and for an ethical re-foundation of European culture and society.
In this process of inculturating the good news, the Word of God becomes man's companion and encounters him along the way to reveal to him the Father's plan as a condition for his happiness. And it is exactly the Word taken from the letter of Paul to the Christians of the Church of Ephesus, which also today leads us, the People of God in Europe, to discover what is perhaps not visible at first sight, but which is also event, is gift, is new life: "So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Eph 2,19).
This is not, clearly, a new word, but it is a word which makes us look again in a new way at the reality of the Church in the old continent, which is anything but an "old church". She is a community of believers called to the "youthfulness of holiness", to the universal call to holiness, strongly underlined by the Council(13) and reiterated afterwards, in various circumstances, by the Magisterium.
Now, it is time that that call be made again with strength and reach every believer, so that each one "may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth" (Eph 3, 18) of the mystery of grace entrusted to their own life.
It is already time for that call to inspire new models of holiness, because Europe above all needs that particular holiness that the present moment requires, original therefore, and in some way, without precedent.
"Fathers" and "mothers" who are open to life and to the gift of life are needed; husbands and wives who witness to and celebrate the beauty of human love blessed by God; people capable of cultural dialogue and of "cultural charity", for the transmission of the Christian message by means of the languages of our society; professionals and simple people who are capable of imprinting on their civil life and on their working relationships and friendships the transparency of the truth and the intensity of Christian charity; women who can rediscover in the Christian faith the possibility of living fully their feminine genius; priests with a big heart, like that of the Good Shepherd; permanent deacons who proclaim the Word and the freedom of service to the poorest; consecrated apostles with the ability to immerse themselves in the world and in history with a contemplative's heart, and mystics so familiar with the mystery of God as to know how to celebrate the experience of the divine and show God present in the events of life.
Europe needs new confessors: of the faith and of the beauty of believing; witnesses who would be credible believers, courageous even to the shedding of blood; virgins who would be so not only for themselves, but who could point out to all that virginity which is in the heart of each one and which leads immediately to the Eternal, the source of all love.
Our continent is eager not only for holy people, but for holy communities, so enamoured of the Church and the world as to know how to present to the world itself a free, open and dynamic Church, which is present in the modern day history of Europe, close to the agonies of the people, welcoming towards all, promoting of justice, caring for the poor, not preoccupied by her smaller numbers nor with placing limits on her action, not frightened by the climate of social de-Christianisation (real but perhaps not so radical and general) nor by the (often only apparent) scarcity of results.
11) Paul VI, Evangelii nuntiandi, 2. See also, on this topic, John Paul II, Christifideles laici, 33-34, and Redemptoris missio, 33-34.
12) Propositions, 19.
13) Lumen gentium, 32; 39-42 (chap. V).
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