A talk by His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, on Oct. 17, 2017, was delivered to a standing-room-only crowd. The Most Reverend Martin D. Holley, D.D., bishop of Memphis, Rev. Msgr. Clement J. Machado and numerous diocesan clergy also attended.
Cardinal Wuerl’s message of evangelization referenced the very beginnings of the Church, when Christ said to His apostles, “You will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8-11)
Cardinal Wuerl traced this mission as repeated throughout the Church’s history. He quoted St. John Paul II in describing the way the mission has to be framed in modern times, “To understand the new invitation to outreach, we (the Church) need to consider very seriously how the disciples were transformed by the Holy Spirit.” St. John Paul II said that our missionary discipleship must have “ardor, method and expression.” Cardinal Wuerl, referring to the Acts of the Apostles, emphasized that prior to Jesus appearing to them at His Ascension, they (the apostles) were described as meek and mild, but after the Holy Spirit descended upon them, their behavior and affect were described as “bold.”
Cardinal Wuerl reiterated Pope Francis’ challenge to all of us to “go out into the world and give Jesus to the people.” We, too, are called to be witnesses.
“Our new evangelization, our new missionary discipleship,” said Cardinal Wuerl, “must be a witness of action as much as it is a witness of words.”
“We must be willing to share the invitation Christ gave us so that all will hear the Good News.”
“The evangelizing disciple of today must live so that their lives are a shining example of the Lord’s redemptive power.”
Cardinal W. shared five necessary characteristics of the “New Evangelistic Disciple”:
Courage - to come out of the pews and into the community where the need for living witness exists.
Connectedness - to God’s people, especially to those who are in the greatest spiritual and physical need.
Urgency - “It is our turn now.” Much like the early days of the Church, we are challenged to work even harder to witness God’s Mercy in today’s socially secular environment..
Compassion - This is essential. “The evangelistic disciple is only effective because he/she has already received God’s forgiveness. We must show this same spirit of forgiveness through our demeanor, words and actions. Many teach and many witness, but the best teacher is also a witness.”
Joy - “We should be filled with joy because God has embraced us and wants us to do the same. Members' joyful faithfulness to members is the way that today’s abject secularism will be undone."
Cardinal Wuerl's message was well-received by those present and is offered as a podcast by Lumen Civitatis, sponsors of the evening, at https://soundcloud.com.