‘Go ye’: Scott Hahn gives evangelization marching orders

New Evangelization “fatigue” has set in, but Scott Hahn has the cure.

“The New Evangelization has got to really grow legs. It has got to walk out of the parish, walk out of the chancery,” the popular speaker and author told 350 people gathered at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria last Saturday. “It’s got to find a place in the world and find a voice in our own homes, in our own parishes, but also in our workplaces.”

It’s not about new programs or homilies or “come to our Bible study,” Hahn said, telling them the secret can be found in Matthew 28.

“Jesus said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore,'” Hahn reminded them. “It is not a ‘come ye’ Gospel. It is a ‘go ye’ great commission.”

During the daylong workshop, which was sponsored by the diocesan Office of Catechetics, he also spoke about the Blessed Mother’s role in our lives of faith and how rediscovering and embracing the Gospel can help us fall more deeply in love with God. His main points often were accompanied by humorous stories from his own experience of helping others find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith after being received into the church in 1986.

During the breaks between his three presentations, Hahn signed copies of his books, entertained questions and posed for photos.

Many of the conference participants accepted the invitation of Dr. Vincent McClean, director of the Office of Catechetics, to conclude the day by attending a special Requiem Mass for All the Faithful Departed that was celebrated by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

BEING A FRIEND
While many people are uncomfortable with the word evangelization, Hahn said it is more about something with which everyone has experience.

“Through Jesus’ death and resurrection we haven’t just been forgiven, we haven’t just been pardoned. We have been adopted. We’ve been brought back home. Divine Friendship has been extended,” he explained.

“If Divine Friendship is the message, what is the most proper medium for the New Evangelization? It is friendship,” according to Hahn, who is currently on sabbatical from his work as professor of theology and Scripture at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

No one would accuse you of preaching if you shared something you enjoy, such as a movie or a book, he said. Sharing what you like about your faith with friends isn’t preaching either and can open the door to someone who wants to talk.

“This is how the New Evangelization takes place. This is why I’m convinced that this really is our mission,” Hahn said. “These are our marching orders and this is what the church depends on in the Americas but around the world as well.”

He asked conference participants to remember that conversion isn’t something that happens once, but is ongoing for all of us. Those who haven’t realized that and aren’t practicing their faith are those in greatest need of that evangelizing friendship, catechesis and the sacraments.

What is at stake is a relationship with God, who doesn’t just love us but desires us, Hahn said, “not to make up what is lacking in him but what is lacking in us.”

“He calls us to a love that surpasses our desires, our love, but not his,” he said, adding that our goodness is not the cause of God’s love. “His love is the cause of our goodness.”

Hahn said it is fun to come and spend the day talking with people and sharing his faith with them, but more difficult to live it out. He asked for their prayers for him and his wife, Kimberly, their children and grandchildren as they do that together.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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