At that he said to them, "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God." - Mt 22:21
Today, the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in ordinary time, the Holy Father celebrated Mass at St. Peter's Basilica to inaugurate the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. You may not have ever heard of the New Evangelization, but it refers to the need to re-evangelize so many parts of the western world which have become very secular. Places that have been Christian for millennia now need to have their faith reinvigorated by the fire of the Holy Spirit. The question is how to make the faith something real for people in the western world which is weighed down by secularism and an economic crisis. Just yesterday violent riots broke out in Rome. Teenagers were burning cars and vandalizing buildings including a church to protest the government and the bad economy (which is pretty bad here in Italy). The materialistic, secularitic project is falling apart around them and so many young people are left with what they see is no future, no hope. And for them, Christ is not their hope, he isn't even real for them. Yet, that is what the whole New Evangelization is about, to proclaim the gospel anew to a whole generation of young people in western world who live as if there is no God.
A group of us seminarians were able to attend the Papal Mass today. Those of us in the back row in the left transept were at the last minute moved up to the front and center to fill in some empty spots (The first shall be last and the last shall be first). I ended up having a seat in the second row! This was my first Papal Mass at St. Peters. As you'd expect the Mass was absolutely beautiful. What struck me the most was how silent it was after the homily and after communion. It was an intense, prayerful experience. The Holy Father's homily (should be in English within a few days on the Vatican website) focused on the need for a new evangelization. He mentioned that at the heart of the new evangelization is the fact that Jesus is the way the truth and the life. He quoted St. Augustine who pointed out that the order of Jesus' statement is necessary. We have to be on the way, that is asking questions, in order to know the truth and to live the life in Christ. Way, Truth, Life; these are not abstract ideas, but a person...Jesus Christ. The Holy Father also announced at the end of his homily that next year will the called the Year of Faith. It will begin on October 11, 2012 which is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. It will end on November 24th, 2013 which is the Feast of Christ the King. I'll be looking forward to hearing more about this. I even predict that we might see an encyclical on faith. The Holy Father has already written on hope and love, it seems only logical to finish up the series.
NB. Be sure to read the homily once it is translated, I may be paraphrasing the Holy Father incorrectly.
UPDATE: Click here for the English translation of the homily