Synod Intervention

This morning I delivered my remarks at the Synod for the New Evangelization. I would like to share a copy of my text with you.

AMDG                                                                                                  JMJ

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan
Synod Intervention
Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The great American evangelist, The Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, commented, “The first word of Jesus in the Gospel was ‘come’; the last word of Jesus was ‘go’.”

The New Evangelization  reminds us that the very agents of evangelization must first be evangelized themselves.  We must first come to Jesus ourselves before we can go out to others in His Holy Name.

Saint Bernard said, “if you want to be a channel, you must first be a reservoir.”

Thus I believe that the primary sacrament of the New Evangelization is the sacrament of penance, and thank Pope Benedict for reminding us of this.

Yes, to be sure, the sacraments of initiation – – Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist – – charge, challenge, and equip the agents of evangelization.

But, the sacrament of reconciliation evangelizes the evangelizers, as it brings us sacramentally into contact with Jesus, who calls us to conversion of heart, and inspires us to answer His invitation to repentance.  As we learned in philosophy, nemo dat qoud non habet (“no one gives what he does not have”).

The Second Vatican Council called for a renewal of the sacrament of penance, but what we got instead, sadly, in many places, was the disappearance of the sacrament.

So we have busied ourselves calling for the reform of structures, systems, institutions, and people other than ourselves.  Yes, this is good.

But the answer to the question “What’s wrong with the world?” is not, in the first place, politics, the economy, secularism, pollution, global warming, or other people . . . no.  As Chesterton, the eloquent British apologist, wrote, “The answer to the question ‘What’s wrong with the world?’ is two words:  I am.”

I am!  Admitting that leads to conversion of heart and repentance, the core of the Gospel-invitation.

That happens in the Sacrament of Penance.  This is the sacrament of the New Evangelization.

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9 Responses to “Synod Intervention”

  1. Donna says:

    I know this to be true as I have lived it. When faced with the demise of my marriage, I began to receive the sacrament of reconciliation frequently, sometimes weekly. It has changed my heart and keeps me humble. It has given me the tools I need to evangelize.

  2. Aaron Smith says:

    Kind and proper words Cardinal Dolan. As a practicing Catholic, I find myself incognito in the confessional booth. My reasoning is that at any moment when I confess my faults and unbecomings, God will hear me. I do not have to sit admist a Priest or other religious leader for my words to get through to him. In my conversations with younger Catholics, I find my feeling is mutual. I am hardest on myself and having an outlet like the confessional only dwarfs my sins to simple Hail Marys and Our Father prayers.

    I renew my life to God and Christian principles by getting up in the morning and choosing to not live my life like yesterday, but to be a guiding light for my family and friends.

    God bless you Cardinal, my intent was not to question, but to show you an example of some of our younger Catholic generation’s perception of Penance…and unfortunatly it’s not that great.

  3. Pooler says:

    Great words, Your Eminence!

  4. Nate Wood says:

    Does that apply to me too? …

    … Yes, I know very well that these words also apply to me, and i will talk this with my wife too.

    Thank You,

    Nate Wood

  5. And with that said – God says: “SEE, I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW.”

  6. Ale Sosa says:

    I wholeheartedly agree!

    It would be great if during this ‘Year of the Faith’ the priests in the parishes would make an effort to be more available to hear Confessions.
    They are always so busy, sometimes there is no chance for the people to go to Confession.
    Maybe there could be scheduled Confessions at certain hours so that the people may know for sure that a priest will be waiting for them, and that if they come they will not be interrupting him, quite the contrary, that he is there for them.

  7. Caroline says:

    Well said Cardinal Dolan.

  8. Julia Brandimarte says:

    Your Eminence
    Excellent post! It is so true that we can’t share our faith with others until we know Jesus ourselves first. I didn’t have that relationship until I started receiving the sacrament of reconciliation at least monthly. The sacrament strips us of our pride, which is the root of all sin. You continue to be in my prayers, especially as you participate in the Synod. I’m looking forward to hearing more.

  9. Kristopher says:

    Very relevant post. I was discussing this sacrament with my priest the other day and he commented on how few people make use of it. I asked him if the Church thought it was so important, then why was it only scheduled for 15 minutes twice a week? I think many parish priests need to stress the sacrament more AND be available in the confessional. And bring back the confessional. Many of us faithful are not comfortable face-to-face. God bless you and your work.