Archbishop Ricardo Blazquez's Intervention at the Synod

«To Insist in the Faith and the Conversion to God is Vocationally Fundamental»

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 15, 2012 ( The following is the text of the intervention of Archbishop Ricardo Blazquez, Archbishop of Valladolid and Vice-President of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, at the Synod of Bishops last week.

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«This intervention wishes to unite the New Evangelization and the catechumenate and Christian initiation. Can the method of the catechumenate practiced by the primitive church, with certain modifications and variations, be a method for the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith in our day and age? Looking at the current mission of the Church, the Second Vatican Council ordered that the catechumenate be restored and indeed, in 1972, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults appeared.

I limit myself to an experience of Christian initiation which is known as the Neocatechumenal Way, born within the scope and impulse of the Council, and which has been amply diffused and approved by the Pope as an adequate method of Catholic formation. I have known the Neocatechumenal Way for many years, since its beginnings, and for many years, participated in three ways. As a catechumen, and not only as one who lends a pastoral service to a community; as a priest looking for new apostolic paths in the immediate post-council; as an expert in theology which I have been a professor of for 14 years in a theology faculty.

During that time, I was trying to establish a relationship between the language of theology and the catechetical, charismatic and celebrative language of the Neocatechumenal Way. I will underline some aspects that seem to me relevant to the New Evangelization.

1)      The catechumens are uniting the personal and ecclesial dimension of the Christian faith in a profound and clear way. They discover the meaning of the Church in the assiduous participation of the community. A profound brotherhood is created which has also repercussions in human and social relations. Each person feels supported by the other brothers to live Christian lives in the midst of a society that is many times indifferent and even hostile towards the Christian faith and the Church.

2)      Through the catechumenate, the participants discover the fundamental realities of the Christian faith: The Creed, the Commandments of God with the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount, the prayer of the Our Father and of the Psalms, the sacraments – particularly the Eucharist and Penance – the apostolic dimension of the Christian life. It is not initiated in particular aspects, complementary or devotional, but in basic realities of the faith, that currently we cannot take for granted. For the majority of the participants it is a post-baptismal catechumenate through which they rediscover the meaning of the baptism already received.

3)      The liturgical celebration is strengthened in each one through the knowledge and the prayerful reading of the Sacred Scripture. Throughout many years, the oddness of Latin had hidden the ignorance of the Sacred Scripture, but now that insufficiency has been exposed. The evangelization requires that the Bible, the Sacraments and the Christian life be united.

4)      The Church is the «homeland» of all vocations. The Neocatechumenal Way, through the deepening in the faith and in conversion while cultivating a baptismal vocation, opens a way so that each catechumen discovers or rediscovers their specific vocation – to Christian marriage, to the priestly ministry, to the consecrated life, or to the missionary itinerancy. To insist in the faith and the conversion to God is vocationally fundamental. Without this foundation, the vocational efforts are superficial and in great part sterile.

5)      The apostolic zeal that ignites like fire in the catechumens and the communities in the measure that they mature should be underlined. Renewing baptism brings with itself the rediscovery that ‘the Christian vocation by its very nature is also a vocation to the apostolate’[1].

6)      The way in which parents transmit the faith to their children is beautiful and efficacious. The children, from a young age, participate in a familiar celebration of the domestic Church.

I wanted, in light of the history of the Neocatechumenal Way, to present not a project but a concrete reality of the connection between Christian initiation and the New Evangelization.»

[1] cf. Apostolicamactuositatem, 2

[Original Text: Spanish] [Translation by Junno Arocho Esteves]

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