Ad Limina Apostolorum (Blog) | St. Augustine's Library
Monday, May 03, 2004

Culture and the New Evangelization 

The last edition of L'Osservatore Romano carried a report from the Pontifical Council for Culture, which has some interesting observations about modern culture as a setting for evangelization.

Militant atheism is in regresion and no longer has much influence on public life . . . . On the contrary, religious indifference as well as practical atheism are growing. Agnostics and non-practising believers account for a large part of society and indeed, live as though God did not exist and with no reference to religious values . . . . In this world of non-belief, the influence of a certain more or less organized 'elite,' including non-believers, agnostics and anti-Christians, must not be overlooked and demands a pastoral response suited to every situation.

[Proposals for the evangelization of such a culture:] To put the Gospel in touch with the forces that form culture; from school to university, to learn how to think; when confronted with a secularizing media, dispersive scepticism, intolerant liberalism and pluralism that levels everything out, to react against the tacit acceptance of the prevalent culture with a new and joyful presentation of Christian culture.

To enable the light to break through the darkness, it is important to re-establish the mind's fundamental orientation to the truth, to ensure that it is not merely content with a worldly horizon. Indeed, if this can satisfy natural curiosity, it cannot quench the thirst for truth and the desire for contemplation that are inherent in the depths of the human mind. Limited rationality imprisons in a suffocating atmosphere the men and women and society that it claims to set free.

I find most interesting the call for a presentation of 'Christian culture,' a concept that has intrigued me in the last months. What exactly is 'Christian culture'? What are its foundations, its fundamental tenets, what is its content and orientation, what is its relation to the Church and to society? In the back of my mind here are the 'two cities' of St. Augustine -- is a 'Christian culture' the equivalent of what St. Augustine called the civitas dei, a society of persons united in the orientation of their wills towards the love of God and neighbor?

What does it mean to 'present' such a culture? The Report highlights the following elements: (1) the 'pastoral care of the family,' (2) the 'reawakening [of] the sense of beauty,' (3) the 'search for a true culture of holiness,' (4) 'ecumenical dialogue,' and (5) 'prayer.'

# posted by Jamie : 2:01 PM


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Ad Limina Apostolorum: An ecclesiastical term meaning a pilgrimage to the sepulchres of St. Peter and St. Paul at Rome, i.e., to the Basilica of the Prince of the Apostles and to the Basilica of St. Paul "outside the walls".

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