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.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan
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.