Evangelii Nuntiandi 44-46: Catechesis, media, and personal witness (sorts)

Paul talks about catechesis (§44) then as another form of evangelism. Is this not more of the same? I suspect that Vatican II blew a whole in rigorous catechesis and I have heard of people being confirmed after attending one or two classes. Which is better than nothing. But not much better.

He then discusses (§45) using the media--mass communication--to reach people. This goes on here in the Middle East, but not by Catholics. Only by evangelicals, and they do a great job at it too. (Obviously the intrepid and indomitable Abouna Zacarias is a fine exception among the Oriental Orthodox; though I would in all honest call him evangelical Orthodox.) So there is an opening there, waiting for someone to step through.

I have long said that some Muslims find the free-church, do-what-you-wanna-do model of worship unattractive even if they are attracted to Christian doctrine and the person of Christ--this point is incontrovertible. They might well be attracted to Catholicism. But no one is exposing them to Catholic liturgy, worship, theology, tradition, or thought. I am serious when I say that I could foresee hundreds (or thousands) of converts if there were just one televised, Arabic-language mass per day on satellite TV. There would be some discussion before and after about what different symbols mean and the various parts of the mass and how they fit together (ie, offertory, procession, the readings, the elevation, etc.) as well a decent and stirring sermon.

I have noted before that Paul VI goes to great lengths, again and again, to preserve a very balanced picture of society that resists either collectivism or individualism. And here, in §46, we find this again: he posits that there is, in the end, no substitute for personal contact. He ties this in to Confession (aka, the sacrament of Penance), but in doing this does he perhaps not betray a slight hierarchical bent? (Hierarchy means, quite literally, rule of a high priest.)

In any case, he is trying to balance the collectivist nature of media-based proclamation with individual relational evangelism. But this would have been the perfect place to affirm what is central to evangelicalism, and what makes it (at times) so successful: that the obligation and ability and call to evangelize belongs to each and every Christian at all times and in all places. He gets half way there by talking about how we can share our testimony: "In the long run, is there any other way of handing on the Gospel than by transmitting to another person one's personal experience of faith?"

But he doesn't close the deal :-( And, as was mentioned, falls back to Penance, which is not even open to the unbaptized.


Odysseus said…
-Vatican II blew a whole in rigorous catechesis-

No, Vatican II was for more rigorous catechesis. But the generation that received it's teachings failed and failed utterly. I grew up in the wreckage they left behind.
Abu Daoud said…
Thank you for the clarification, and I agree with you. Maybe I should have written, "The way Vatican II was received blew a whole..."

Don't get me wrong. I like VII.
FrGregACCA said…
"I have long said that some Muslims find the free-church, do-what-you-wanna-do model of worship unattractive even if they are attracted to Christian doctrine and the person of Christ--this point is incontrovertible...."

Sounds like an opportunity for Anglo-Catholicism, which I understand is fairly orthodox in the ME, no?
Abu Daoud said…
Fr Greg:

I could write a whole post on that question--Anglicanism in the ME. It is theologically orthodox and traditional, no women's ordination or "Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer" stuff. There is, in Palestine at least, a strong stream of liberationist though, but that is more political than theological.

The point though is that there just aren't many Anglican churches. If you are going to do satellite ministry you need to have a certain presence, which we Anglicans, I think, don't quite have.

But is it possible? Yes, it is. It could happen. I think it's a good idea, though you would have a hard time getting ANY of the four bishops to back you up. Of course there is much one can do without a bishop.
FrGregACCA said…
There are only FOUR Anglican bishops for the entire ME????
Odysseus said…
-But he doesn't close the deal-

Why do you say this?
Abu Daoud said…
Fr Greg: Yes, there are four dioceses in the Province. The Province is "The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East" (ECJME) and the four dioceses are:

Jerusalem (w/ Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria)
Egypt (w/ N. Africa)
Cyprus and the Gulf

Rob: He doesn't close the deal because instead of going on to advocate that EVERY Christian should do what he has just described--sharing their testimony--he falls back on Penance.

I think Confession is a good spiritual exercise and it is used to this day in Anglican churches, though it is not as central as it is in Roman Catholicism. I was looking for a strong statement that we should all evangelize. He was almost there.
JohnG. said…
Abu, I would be a slight more optimistic : Paulus VI does not reduce personal contact to sacramental confession. He speaks of pastoral dialog too. And these two seem to be given as exemples of personnal announcement of the Gospel of salvation.

I would say too that - in §13 for example and soon in §59 and following- he affirms that evangelization is the duty of the entire Church, meaning clergy and "simple" faithful .
Odysseus said…
-He was almost there.-

Actually, he was spot on.

"repent, and believe the gospel." (Mark 1:15).

The first words of Jesus' ministry. Repentance comes first. One is converted by turning away from their sin, then salvation comes.
Jeff said…
And First Confession still precedes First Communion in the Western Church...

If it's done right, which it is around here...
Abu Daoud said…
John G: You are right, and of course you will note that overall I am quite positive about EN, I just think that here was good chance to promote a teaching that is so often forgotten by Catholics.

Rob: Repent, yes. But here the reference is to the sacrament of Penance, which is related to repentance, but is generally available for Christians who have fallen into mortal sin.

Jeff: Good point, though there is no indication that he is thinking of this rather rare and extraordinary form of confession. I also think that technically the confession of sins before baptism is NOT a sacrament in itself (ie, Penance), it is rather part of the preparation for the sacrament of Baptism.

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