Books for the New Evangelization

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With the pre-order release of New Evangelizers co-founder Greg Willits’s new book, The New Evangelization and You: Be Not Afraid (Servant Books), which I read earlier this week, I started wondering how many books existed on this topic.

Turns out there’s a rather impressive handful. This is what I found on my review and have-read shelf already.

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The New Evangelization and You: Be Not Afraid, by Greg Willits (Servant Books, to be released May 28, 2013)

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I’ve been looking forward to reading this book since I first heard about Greg writing it. With his passion for the topic (he and his wife cofounded New Evangelizers and all the linked apostolates!), his humorous approach to life, and his experience, I expected it to be delightful, informative, and all around awesome.

And…it was. I sat down Sunday evening and read half of it (a bit unintentionally) and then, thanks to a waiting room I was in on Monday, finished it.

It left me feeling motivated and heartened, and it gave me a lot of ideas. I could actually, in parts, hear Greg’s voice, and I’m sure other fans of The Catholics Next Door will find the same.

Not only is it a practical handbook, it’s an inspirational examination of what those of us who are just normal, ordinary Catholics in the pew can do to be part of whatever this New Evangelization really is. Or isn’t.

Here’s the official synopsis:

If you’re like many Catholics today, you love the Church and you long for others to know the peace and joy you’ve experienced. But how can you communicate it? Greg Willits is passionate about helping you share your faith. He’s explored all kinds of ways to reach out–from radio and TV to various forms of social media–and he’s learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. The New Evangelization and You: Be Not Afraid encourages Catholics everywhere to first know their faith, and then to live it and share it authentically with others.

Many Catholics have heard the phrase “New Evangelization” but don’t know what it means or how they might apply it in their lives. The New Evangelization and You clearly explains what the New Evangelization is and how it applies to every Catholic, and examines realistic ways to make the New Evangelization a part of each Catholic’s daily living.

While explaining the goals, history, concepts, and action items of the New Evangelization, the book spotlights other Catholics already making a difference by the ways they share their faith and inspires readers to embrace this call in their own lives.

This book is meant to light a fire under every Catholic and to inspire an active response of faith. Experience the joy of knowing faith, living faith, and sharing faith.

New Evangelization: Passing on the Catholic Faith Today, by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl (Our Sunday Visitor, 2013)

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There’s not much to this book…it’s almost hidden on my review shelf. I have a feeling, though, that it’s packed with great insight (and you’ll hear all about it in this very space after I’ve read it!), especially given that its author is a cardinal.

Here’s a synopsis I modified slightly from what I’ve found elsewhere online:

For the first time since the term New Evangelization was coined by Blessed John Paul II, 250 bishops from all over the world were called to Rome by Pope Benedict XVI to discuss it, define it, and determine what it really means to Catholics today.

This book is an exclusive first-hand summary of the three-week Synod from the leader of the gathering, Cardinal Donald Wuerl. It provides a succinct, specific and tactical roadmap for where Catholics and parishes and dioceses go from here, including:

—What’s the point? The three most important priorities of the New Evangelization
—What am I up against? The three isms that get in the way of sharing and growing the Faith
—What do I do? How to galvanize people around one simple truth of the Gospel message
–Where it all began: The four theological foundations of the New Evangelization
—Learning from the best: The four characteristics of great evangelizers

In addition to personal and group reflection questions at the end of every chapter, Wuerl also shares his own personal faith sharing experiences with non-Catholics and Catholics alike and how the insight he gained shaped his own view of the New Evangelization. A must-read for all parish communities.

Opening the Door of Faith: A Study Guide for Catechists and the New Evangelization, by Jem Sullivan (Our Sunday Visitor, 2012)

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I am enthusiastic about my role as a catechist and this book has me even more excited than usual. It’s beautiful, for one thing, and it looks awwwwwwesome.

No, I haven’t read it yet. But with Confirmation Boot Camp coming up soon and our religious education year winding up in only eight more sessions, I will be picking it up and, more than likely, sharing it around.

Here’s what the publisher says about it:

As baptized Catholics, we are all called to be a part of the New Evangelization – a renewal and deepening of our faith from which flows our deep desire to share the Good News in every way we live, work, and play.

Opening the Door of Faith: Forming Catechists for the New Evangelization is a practical and insightful guide to living the New Evangelization in our everyday lives.

The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet, by Brandon Vogt (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011)

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In The Church and New Media, Brandon Vogt has collected some of the hot names in Catholic new media and tapped into their wisdom. The book explores blogging and podcasting, but also social media and parish applications of all of the above. There are conversion stories that were rooted in online searches and communities that have never met in person.

It’s so easy to discount this new-fangled technology, to look at it as either the obsession of gadget lovers or the downfall of civilization. It has its dangers, to be sure, but in this excellent resource, we have a great starting point a way to continue to grow.

Sharing our faith has never been easier, though living it is just as hard as it ever was.

It’s a fast read, but one that I’ll be revisiting. Though Brandon’s role was as editor, in the introduction and conclusion he ties things up nicely.

At the Heart of the Gospel: Reclaiming the Body for the New Evangelization, by Christopher West (Image Books, 2012)

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I’ve been following West’s work for some time, but this book brought something new to the table. For one thing, he ties in two of my favorite topics–Theology of the Body and the New Evangelization–together in a way that is nothing less than brilliant.

For another, I can feel, in this text, how Christopher West has matured and grown as a writer, speaker, and man. When I first started listening to him and reading his work, he had one or two kids. Now he has five and he’s been through some fire and brimstone for his work.

You can feel that in this work. While it is very powerful, it steps back from some of the emotion I’ve read in his writing before. This work is more scholarly-feeling than what I’ve read of his work in the past.

My copy is dog-eared and marked, and the cover, sadly, did not stand up well to being dragged all over creation in my attempt to read it in every spare moment. I may lend it to a friend, but more likely, I’ll encourage them–as I highly encourage you–to purchase their own copy. It’s an investment worth making.

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Copyright 2013, Sarah Reinhard

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