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discovering of supremacy of the first announcement
The history of Alfa-Omega can be summarised with the passage from the parish group reality (from 1979) to the clerical association one, that starts an evangelization movement (from 1984).
At the first stage we rotate around a group of laymen that makes experience of biblical reading to be able to take part in Sunday Eucharist more fruitfully. Then, beginning to understand that we need to give back to Holy Scripture its own space to allow people to discover or find again their own Christian identity, necessity to assume our own responsibilities matured, with personal commitment to announce the Salvation Word.
The discovery and the study in depth of Paolo VI's Apostolic urging Evangelii Nuntiandi gave first weight to the group walk. At n. 59 of the urging we ask: "But who has, therefore, mission to evangelize?". And the answer is: "Vatican Council II answered with charity: for divine mandate Church has duty to go around the world to preach Gospel to every creature". And in another text: "All the Church is missionary, and evangelization work is fundamental duty of God's people".
To the joy of Jesus Christ's living person discovery, through His Word and this discovery announcement to other people, we should add gradually consciousness that levangelization is not an variable independent from Church or an autonomous service of those people who devote themselves on it. It is Church work and it finds its foundation on Christian initiation sacraments.
This consciousness, joint to missionary experience expansion from Roma to Modena, Verona and Bologna, coagulated a strongly held responsible laymen core.
This study in depth brought to the association's features drawing up. Therefore Alfa-Omega has to be placed inside the Catholic voluntary work scope or in the real ministeriality one, whose members live their own Baptism, Confirmation and marriage inside family and professional values, also thinking of evangelization ministry in Church and all around the world.
In the general context of Church (of a Communion mystery Church, ministerial and charismatic), commitment of Alfa-Omega consists of choice for evangelization as service to reach a personal relation with God, by means of Jesus Christ, to live a new life in Spirit.
It is a diaconia fidei (service to faith) and not a diaconia ex-fide, i.e. it is not one of those many social or cultural services encouraged and lighted by faith. These two diaconie are obviously connected: the diaconia ex-fide refers to human promotion, while the diaconia fidei concerns levangelization as service in which faith herself is object of communicated gift.
In this service stands out the proposal of a relation with God through Jesus Christ by Gospel and of a personal responsible choice in front of Christ who calls us with His word of life. Thus, in this service the aspect of kerigma (announcement of that God did on Jesus of Nazaret) assumes priority importance in comparison with the aspect of didaché (systematic teaching).
The good news derives from God's love for every man, whatever his life situation is. This announcement does not judge or condemn, but it indicates a new life in Christ. God's Grace precedes human effort, God's initiative comes before human answer.
On this basis, mainly at the beginning of walk we emphasize necessity of fundamental hearing of God's word, to be able to understand and gradually realize all the Christian life expressions. And the God's word itself catch man inside his self-sufficiency, prisoner of his own ego circle, conditioned by sin situation.
And Jesus Christ dead and risen again is God work so that this self-sufficiency is passed and we can live a new life inside Holy Spirit. God loved us as first, He receives us such as we are. In front of this announcement man is invited to receive Jesus Christ as the Saviour and the Lord, and to do experience of personal encounter with Him.
Alfa-Omega has experience that lack of this personal encounter is main Christian weakness in front of a secularised society. Raniero Cantalamessa wrote:
"Paolo VI, in Evangelii Nuntiandi (n.75), speaking about Holy Spirit role in evangelization (in which He is the main agent, according to what the Holy Father says), expressed vow that shepherds, theologians and believers studied better Holy Spirit nature and way of acting in today's evangelization... Lord's Spirit mainly was on Jesus of Nazaret, so that He could preach happy announcement that God's kingdom had arrived. Today Holy Spirit is on the Church (and on those whom the Church sends to evangelize) for the same purpose: so that She proclaims happy announcement that Jesus, crucified and risen again, is the Lord. This is true Spirit sword!... We still need this sword; we can not do without her; she only, in fact, can pass through the incredulity thick blanket come down to the world and to the heart himself of al lot of Christians The primitive Church experience calls us to return for reviving apostolic Kerigma which helped to announce faith to pagan world and which first community grew up around, distinguishing her from any other things, even from catechesis. It's necessary this fundamental announcement is suggested, at least once, clear and plain, not only to catechumens but also to all people, because today's believers majority does not passed through catechumenate. Jesus proclamation as Lord should find his honour place in all the strong moments of Christian life but the most serious question is this: how many men are ready to proclaim this announcement in the Holy Spirit, i.e. as true believers, running the risk, if necessary, of cultural inferiority in front of pure reason defenders and in front of those who want, as their main objective, to answer the world expectations? How many people are ready to repeat with Paolo: "My word and my message do not base themselves on persuasive wisdom speeches, but on Spirit and His power manifestation"? (see l Corinthians 2,4)"
These considerations should be connected to the conviction that we are in a new evangelization step. We are asked for a new experience which is a Christianity basis in our culture, a new personal and vital encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, a discovery of Church as a new community life.
Therefore it is not necessary to do everything again from the beginning with easy or radical solutions, but we courageously have to come out of a pastoral tied to a Christianity situation (and then to those two principles of faith atavism and of belonging to faith unanimity).
Cardinal Martini, in 1987, on the occasion of pastoral congress at Verona's diocese, refers some words pronounced by mons. Aldo del Monte in the official meeting relation CEI 1973:
" I think also that all of us must put ourselves on evangelization condition, if with this pastoral option we mean: 1)We never want to take it for granted that the automatism of being born from a Christian family is sufficient to belong to faith; 2) we want to favour faith proposal as free pastoral choice; 3) we do not want to consider granted the faith growth, but to verify and provoke her at every sacraments receiving; 4) we do not want to concentrate the whole pastoral effort on sacramental-liturgical practice; 5) we do not want to believe that Church growth is measurable with distributed sacraments number; 6) we want to build an alive Church, made with "believers", rather than "practising"; 7) we want to put ourselves also on the point of view of those who do not believe; 8) we want to communicate by means of "words" and signals which all people could understand".
Therefore we have to tie Word supremacy with need of a personal and mature faith. Thus in this perspective Alfa-Omega levangelization assumes two connected meanings: in strict sense as first Christ announcement and Christ person knowledge through Gospel while in large sense as irreplaceable constant at whatever moment of Christian and ecclesiastic process.
These convictions about evangelization and concrete experience brought Alfa-Omega to favour service to parishes and then to local Church.
This let us, we suppose, to continuously take consciousness of people spiritual needs: i.e. need to overcome a subjective view of life, need to know Gospel in alive and direct way, need to get over a private conception of faith, need to dialogue about fundamental family and social life values.
Thus the specific methodology has more and more been put into concrete pastoral situations service, simplifying at most so that laity were able to begin actually an evangelization process.
After about twenty missions evangelization project that we propose concentrates on three fundamental purposes, to reach into three subsequent steps. This project has mystery model as background, rescuing and parish missionary like it is traced in pastoral plans succeeded from '70 to present day.
The three purposes are:
The greatest effort consists of urge people to evangelization not as a new project to "consume", but as a new way of living faith, a new mentality and a style to make parish a Community for mission.
Evangelization Association Alfa Omega
Via Pedretti, 9
41015 Nonantola (Modena - Italy)
This Association has one web page: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Olympus/6947
fr. Paolo Benvenuto <email@example.com >
Via Salgari 4/4 - 16156 GENOVA PEGLI
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