Chapter II: What is Evangelization?
With no. 17 Pope St. Paul VI began the second chapter of the encyclical. The message of no. 17 is that evangelization is a very rich activity and will need some explanation. It is more than just catechizing or preaching the Gospel to people or doing any other activity that brings people into contact with Jesus and his Church. These activities are, of course, a part of evangelization, but they are not all that makes up evangelization.
Pope St. Paul VI says, among other things, that the essential aspects of evangelization were pointed out by the Second Vatican Council in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today and its Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church. Let us see whether we can find some of these aspects in those documents.
The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church says: “All men are called to belong to the new People of God. This people therefore, whilst remaining one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and to all ages in order that the design of God’s will may be fulfilled: he made human nature one in the beginning and has decreed that all his children who were scattered should be finally gathered together as one (Jn. 11:52)” (no. 13).
From the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today we have the following: “The good news of Christ continually renews the life and culture of fallen man; it combats and removes the error and evil which flow from the ever-present attraction of sin. It never ceases to purify and elevate the morality of peoples. It takes the spiritual qualities and endowments of every age and nation, and with supernatural riches it causes them to blossom, as it were, from within; it fortifies and completes and restores them in Christ (no. 59).
Within the Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church we find the following: “Missionary activity is intimately bound up with human nature and its aspirations. In manifesting Christ, the Church reveals to men their true situation and calling, since Christ is the head and exemplar of that renewed humanity, imbued with that brotherly love, sincerity and spirit of peace, to which all men aspire. Both Christ and the Church which bears witness to him transcend the distinctions of race and nationality, and so cannot be considered as strangers to any one or in any place. Christ is the Truth and the Way which the preaching of the Gospel lays open to all men when it speaks the words of Christ in their ear: ‘Repent, and believe in the Gospel’” (no. 8).
In the rest of Chapter II (nos. 18-24) Pope St. Paul VI will explain what evangelization is. No doubt his explanation will include the points in our quotes.
Mary, you who evangelized while you were on earth, grant us the wisdom and strength to preach Jesus wherever we go. Amen.