Monday, June 16, 2014

"Navigating the New Evangelization": A Book Review

Father Raniero Cantalamessa's latest book Navigating the New Evangelization provides a valuable addition to a growing body of books of the subject of evangelization in the church today. The book is a very readable compilation of teachings which Father Cantalamessa delivered to the Papal Household on the subject of evangelization during Advent 2010 and 2011. It would be a useful read not only for those who are directly involved in the work of the New Evangelization, but also for every Catholic who wishes to learn more about the history of evangelization in the church and how to respond to the current challenges facing the spread of the Gospel today - challenges faced by lay Catholics in the workplace, at backyard parties and among family members.

The book is divided into two sections. The first section provides an overview of four major thrusts of evangelization in the history of the church, including the protagonists of those waves, the time periods during which they occurred and a description of the parts of the world which were converted. The second section defines three major challenges facing evangelization today. Father Cantalamessa succinctly defines each of these philosophies and provides tools to overcome them that can be used by every Catholic.

Below is a visual representation of the content of the book:

Don't let the above visual deceive you - this is not a dry history text, nor is it an intellectual philosophy text. It is also not a detailed blueprint for evangelization. Do not read it expecting a "how-to guide". Father Cantlamessa provides something far greater than all of these- he challenges the reader to live out the principles which under-gird all evangelization efforts and have throughout the church's life. These principles are:
  • The centrality of Jesus as the object and source of all evangelization
  • The primacy and necessity of prayer over activities and programs in the work of evangelization 
  • The fact that honest, humble witness is far more effective in overcoming objections than intellectual arguments
The book is seasoned throughout with quotes from scripture, the saints and the Popes, all tied together in Father Cantalamessa's accessible, practical tone. Reading this book, and others by Father Cantalamessa, always give me the sense that I am sitting and having a conversation with a wise Spiritual Director, as opposed to reading a book. I highly recommend it.  Below is a favorite quote from the book:

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  1. Looks like a great book! Definitely adding it to my wish list! :)

    1. Thanks for commenting Melody - I really enjoyed the book!

  2. Wow, that quote is powerful and it's really making me think. Thank you!

  3. Where I live very few Catholics will speak about their faith, so Fr. Cantamelessa has nothing to worry about here.