My dear fellow brothers in the presbyterate, religious brothers and sisters and all faithful.
With the celebration of the Feast of Christ the King, we bring to a close the Year of Faith. As we end the Year of Faith, it is important to recall the objective for celebrating the Year of Faith so that we can assess the fruits of this celebration and how we can move forward with fresh zeal and enthusiasm in the spread of the Faith.
We are living in very challenging times. The twin scourges of this century, namely, secularism and relativism have changed the moral climate of this century. When God is no longer recognized as the absolute and the ultimate reality, humanity has supplanted the place of God. The offspring of secularism is necessarily relativism, since the former says that truth cannot be found. With secularism also comes materialism, as the spiritual dimension of humanity is denied and the human person is reduced to a material creature like the rest of the world. As a consequence today we are living in a materialistic and amoral society with values that are anti-life and an illusory and superficial love that is not founded on truth.
At the same time, we see advances in science and technology which have become the new gods of this century, for they are seen as the antidotes to all the woes and problems of humanity, as if they can heal the human heart. Science and technology have also changed the face of the earth in times of communication, mass media and transportation, globalization and migration.
In the face of such challenges, the Church must seize the day to proclaim Christ as the Truth and the Love of God in person instead of retreating from the world in bewilderment and fear. We must make use of such opportunities using all that is available in the modern world to spread the gospel to all of humanity. This is what the New Evangelization is inviting us to do. It calls us to renew and imbue the culture of our society with the spirit of the Gospel; to make use of the phenomenon of migration and globalization; to make better and proper use of the means of mass communication; and infuse the spirit of the gospel of justice and love in the fields of science, technology, economy, politics and civil life.
But our influence in the world of culture, politics and economy will be weak unless our Catholics are “re-evangelized” in the faith. The New Evangelization seeks to deepen our faith, believe in the Gospel message so that we can be evangelizers. Before we can evangelize, we must first be evangelized. The objective of the New Evangelization is to ’re-propose' the Gospel to those who have experienced a crisis of faith due to secularization. The New Evangelization invites each Catholic to renew their relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church.
It is within this context that the Year of Faith was proclaimed. Notably it was proclaimed on the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and also the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It began with a Synod on New Evangelization. The proclamation of the Year of Faith therefore is meant to help every Catholic to deepen his or her own faith by first giving them a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, bringing about a personal conversion; and then to deepen this faith through further formation particularly through the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Vatican II documents so that they are ready to share their faith with others. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Porta Fidei says we must help Catholics to reappropriate, intensify, renew so as to “reinvigorate it, purify it, confirm it, and confess it.”
The question we need to ask ourselves is whether this primary objective of helping our Catholics to encounter Jesus Christ personally and radically has been achieved. Secondly, how have we helped our Catholics to deepen their intellectual faith and spiritual growth? Can we truly say that more and more of our Catholics during the Year of Faith have grown in fervor and love for the Lord and His Church? Can we see the fruits of the Year of Faith? What are these fruits you have witnessed in your parish and in the local Church? If not, then the Year of Faith would just have been another program to keep us busy.
I am sure the Lord would have worked in various ways during this Year of Faith. But let us not deceive ourselves that the work is done. This is just the beginning. The celebration of the Year of Faith in truth has no end. It is just the starting point in the work of the New Evangelization. It is simply giving us an impetus but we must now further develop and intensify the programs that we have started. No efforts must be spared from bringing what we have started to a glorious end.
My suggestion is for every parish to initiate an Office of the New Evangelization to ensure that the objectives of the New Evangelization, namely, the renewal of faith of our people and their witnessing in society are well-coordinated. Every Catholic, every Church group must be re-evangelized and given a personal encounter with the Lord, have their spiritual and doctrinal faith deepened and realize that we are all working towards the common goal of being an evangelizing community. Together with the study of the Papal Documents, especially on the New Evangelization, Porta Fidei and Lumen Fidei, besides the earlier documents from Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI, together with the Vatican II Documents and Catechism of the Catholic Church, this faith will grow and mature. We need to consider more concrete steps to apply what we have learnt from the study of these documents.
Finally, nothing can be accomplished except by the grace of God. This entails that we need to help our people grow in holiness through training in prayer, personal, liturgical and communal prayer. More talks and programs should be organized to teach and form our people in prayer so that they can encounter God in Christ more deeply. Most of all, I hope that in every parish, an intercessory group will be set up to pray for the evangelization work of the parish and the diocese and for the spread of the Good News to all of humanity.
Archbishop William Goh