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Telling others about Jesus Christ
"Come, Holy Spirit, come and renew the face of the earth! Come with your seven gifts! Come, Spirit of Life, Spirit of Communion and Love! The Church and the world need you. Come, Holy Spirit, and make ever more fruitful the charisms you have bestowed on us. Give new strength and missionary zeal to these sons and daughters of yours who have gathered here. Open their hearts; renew their Christian commitment to the world. Make them courageous messengers of the Gospel, witnesses to the risen Jesus Christ, the Redeemer and Saviour of man. Strengthen their love and their fidelity to the Church." Pope John Paul II May 30 1998
"To evangelize", writes Paul VI, "is the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her most profound identity" (123).
To nourish ourselves with the word in order to be "servants of the word" in the work of evangelization: this is surely a priority for the Church at the dawn of the new millennium... Novo Millennio Ineunte, 7 January 2001
…. Over the years, I have often repeated the summons to the new evangelization. I do so again now, especially in order to insist that we must rekindle in ourselves the impetus of the beginnings and allow ourselves to be filled with the ardour of the apostolic preaching which followed Pentecost. We must revive in ourselves the burning conviction of Paul, who cried out: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16).
This passion will not fail to stir in the Church a new sense of mission, which cannot be left to a group of "specialists" but must involve the responsibility of all the members of the People of God. Those who have come into genuine contact with Christ cannot keep him for themselves, they must proclaim him. A new apostolic outreach is needed, which will be lived as the everyday commitment of Christian communities and groups.
The entire mission of the Church, then, is concentrated and manifested in evangelization. Through the winding passages of history the Church has made her way under the grace and the command of Jesus Christ: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mk 16:15) "... and lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age" (Mt 28:20).
" The work of evangelisation is a basic duty of the people of God" Pope Paul VI (Evangelisation in the Modern World)
"For the disciple of Christ to evangelize is an obligation of
Pope Paul VI " I earnestly exhort you to generously open your minds and heart to receive a large outpouring of divine gift, the Holy Spirit. May a new Pentecost descend on you so you will be spiritually renewed and continue on a new road to evangelical witness". (Evangelisation in the Modern World)
Pope Paul VI " Evangelisation will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit" (Evangelisation in the Modern World)
Romans 5:5 "Whatever happens we can walk with our heads held high because we know that God loves us, he has poured His love into our hearts by His Holy Spirit."
Jesus said to His disciples: Go into all the World and preach the Gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:15 & 16
Vatican Council states what the first, primary duty of a priest is - namely: "Since no one can be saved who has not first believed, priests...have as their primary duty the proclamation of the Gospel of God to all...For through the saving Word, the spark of faith is struck in the hearts of unbelievers and fed into the hearts of the faithful." Decree on the Ministry of Priests, Section 4
Let us encourage our priests and ministers and pray that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit as they fulfill their primary duty of proclaiming the Gospel.
This command of Jesus is not just to be obeyed by priests and ministers, but by all Christian lay people as we allow the Holy Spirit to empower us for this task. Vatican Council affirmed this when it stated that all Christian lay people should "look for opportunities to announce Christ by words addressed either to non-believers with a view to leading them to faith, or to believers (both Catholic and Protestant) with a view to instruction and strengthening them and motivating them toward a more fervent life". Decree on Laity, Section 6.
Our use of Alpha is, perhaps, one way of responding to Pope John Paul II's call: "Relations between Christians presuppose and from now on call for every possible form of practical co-operation at all levels: pastoral, cultural, and social, as well as that of witnessing to the Gospel message." (Ut Unum Sint, paragraph 40).
When we heard of Alpha our reaction was that Catholics could and should come up with a better, more Catholic course. But as we looked and listened to what was happening with Alpha, some things became apparent.
First, Alpha works.
Secondly, Alpha is relatively mature and polished.
Thirdly, because Alpha is being used across the ecumenical divide, it is a tremendous Christian witness. The spectacle of Christians united in acceptance of Alpha as a common tool sends a clear message to a world that too often only sees our divisions.
Fourth, with our follow up cassettes and introduction of small faith sharing communities, we now have for those parishes and other Catholic organizations using Alpha a more acceptable introduction to Catholic Christianity, something that can lead people on into RCIA and give them a hunger for life in the Catholic Church.