Sunday 21 August 2022

Our Lady and the New Evangelisation - Donal Anthony Foley - Catholic Truth Society

Our Lady and the New Evangelisation
Donal Anthony Foley
Catholic Truth Society
eISBN 9781784693695
CTS Booklet SP44

This is the twelfth volume I have read from the pen of Donal Anthony Foley. Ten of them have been from the Catholic Truth Society, though some of them have been read more than once. Over the last few years I have read over 300 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society. As of the reading of this volume I have read 304 between June of 2018 and July 2022, and many of those titles were read more than once. To be honest based on the tile this volume was fairly low on my list of CTS books to read, but because I enjoy Foley’s writing style so much this one was bumped up after I finished a previous volume from his pen.

The description of this volume is:

“The presence of Mary, Mother of God, in the New Evangelisation is as clearly discernible today as throughout Christian history, not least in her recognised apparitions and in papal teaching.

History is rich with heroes and heroines, saints and martyrs, and the hidden and unknown, who have spread the Christian Gospel in good times and bad. How is this relentless and fruitful energy sustained? The timeless role of Mary, Mother of God, in this great work of evangelisation is uncovered here. As in the early Church, through to medieval and modern times, her presence today is clearly discernible in the New Evangelisation, – made clear in the messages revealed through her recognised apparitions, as well as in the teaching of recent popes.”

The chapters in this volume are:

Our Lady and Evangelisation in the Early Church and the Middle Ages
Marian Apparitions and Evangelisation
Our Lady and Evangelisation in Modern Times
Recent Popes, Our Lady, and the New Evangelisation
Our Lady and the New Evangelisation, Now and in the Future
Some Marian Prayers
Practical Aspects of Devotion to Our Lady
Further Reading/References

I had a fairly good ideal what ‘the new evangelization’ was prior to beginning this book. It has been such a catch phrase in online Catholicism for a few decades now. For most of my life it has been a term used in Catholic circles. I even a few years back read a volume called The Old Evangelization by Eric Sammons. But this volume was a refreshing and encouraging read. I highlighted over 20 passages while reading through this; some of them are:

“I hope that many will be inspired by this booklet to draw close to Our Lady, to discover her Motherly patronage anew. May she intercede for us all. Through her Immaculate Heart, may she help us all to invite others to know and experience the loving and merciful heart of her Son, Jesus Christ. Bishop Mark O’Toole (Plymouth)”

“As for the New Evangelisation, this is the whole programme enacted by the Church, in various ways, from the latter part of the twentieth century onwards: the great movement to mobilise the Church for the evangelisation of the world in the third millennium in which we are now living. But “evangelisation” is not just a question of missionary activity, but also encompasses re-evangelising those cultures where Christian influence has diminished, and also looking at the way that Catholic thought and practice can act as a “leaven” in improving society in a moral and cultural sense, as indicated in the parable of the leaven (Mt 13:33).”

“As will become clear in the course of this booklet, devotion to the Blessed Virgin had a very important role during the first evangelisation of the cultures of antiquity, and this continued and deepened during the medieval period, when devotion to her was very widespread. Likewise, we will see how, after the Reformation, Our Lady was very important in the process of re-establishing Christianity as a force in society following the break-up of Christendom. In the more modern era, too, through her approved apparitions, she has been of great importance in strengthening the Church, and thus it can be argued that her role in the New Evangelisation must also be promoted and understood if this evangelisation is to be truly fruitful.”

“The Blessed Virgin has a crucial place in the Gospels, but devotion to her didn’t cease at that point, and even from the earliest days we find evidence of this in the writings of the Church Fathers - the important early Christian writers and teachers - particularly when they described her as the “New Eve”.”

“Devotion to Our Lady was very much present in medieval England. Early English Marian apparitions and shrines associated with her contributed to the idea that England was the “dowry” or special portion of Mary, a land particularly dedicated to her. Thus we have the Marian shrines such as those at Glastonbury, Evesham and particularly Walsingham, which became one of the most visited shrines in Europe.”

“But as the world became more secular, and thus moved further away from God, he responded by sending his Mother to earth to appear in various places to call people to prayer and repentance. We will look at four of the most important of these, namely, Guadalupe in 1531, the Rue de Bac in 1830, Lourdes in 1858, and Fatima in 1917.”

“There have been a number of important historical incidents in which the praying of the Rosary, and more generally devotion to Our Lady, has played a crucial part, including the Battle of Lepanto. This took place on 7th October 1571, near Lepanto, off western Greece; a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of southern European Catholic states, fought the main invasion fleet of the Ottoman Empire.”

“The various Marian apparitions which took place during the nineteenth century, and particularly in France, thus did a great deal to revive Catholicism in Europe after the negative influence of the various revolutionary outbursts, added to the ongoing secularising effects of the Reformation and Enlightenment.”

“To live Our Lady’s message, then, is to follow a path of personal sanctification, and thus the Fatima message is exceptionally relevant for the Church in the difficult times in which we are living.”

“The liturgical focus of Marialis Cultus illustrates an important but often overlooked point regarding the feast days and solemnities assigned to the Blessed Virgin in the liturgy. These include the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (1st January), the Annunciation (25th March), the Assumption (15th August), the Immaculate Conception (8th December), and the feast days associated with Christmas. And we could also add the particular Marian feast days associated with approved Marian apparitions, such as Our Lady of Lourdes (11th February), Our Lady of Fatima (13th May), and Our Lady of Guadalupe (12th December).”

“This will bring Catholics to live their faith more fully through regular reception of the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist, with the assurance of Our Lady’s promise to assist them at the hour of death “with all the graces necessary for salvation.” Widespread adoption of the First Saturdays devotion should be a major part of the New Evangelisation, with the particular aim of reviving the Church in the West.”

“Pope Benedict made a number of notable pronouncements at Fatima, the most important of which was his declaration, on 13th May 2010, that it was “mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete.” Pope Benedict was insistent, too, in warning about the dangers of an aggressive secularism which seeks to drive religion out of society completely, and is thus a real threat to religious liberty. He likewise warned about a relativism which sees all beliefs as equally valid, and thus denies objective truth, and which leads to a “dictatorship of relativism”, in which all that matters for individuals are their own egotistical desires.”

“Movements inspired by love for Mary have been very active agents of the New Evangelisation, and we can see a strong element of Marian devotion in many of the new movements and communities which have grown up in the Church, particularly since the Second Vatican Council. But as already mentioned, some essentially lay movements, such as the Legion of Mary, Opus Dei, and the Knights of Our Lady (Militia Sanctae Mariae), were active long before that. And it has also been said of many of these new movements that they have three main characteristics, namely a strong focus on the Eucharist, on the papacy, and on devotion to Mary.”

“In a practical sense, the best way for individuals to promote the Marian dimension of the New Evangelisation is to become involved in some way in promoting devotion to Our Lady, or living out that devotion in their own life. So at a parish or school level, it is possible to join in praying the Rosary, or start a Rosary group, or initiate a shrine or “Mary Garden” at a suitable place within a parish or school. Individuals can also join Marian organisations such as the World Apostolate of Fatima, the Militia Immaculatae or the Legion of Mary.”

Those examples show how Foley has focused on the New Evangelization as a Marian Movement and devotion. I hope those samples give you a feel for the strength and power of this volume. It is a volume that is easy to read an engage with. And I find it hard to believe that you could read it and not have your heart stirred.

This is another excellent volume from the pen of Foley. It is a great resource from the Catholic Truth Society. I highly recommend it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

For reviews of other books in the CTS Devotions series click here.

Books by Donal Anthony Foley:
Christian Living: The Spirituality of the Foyers of Charity
Understanding Medjugorje: Heavenly Visions or Religious Illusion?
Marian Apparitions, the Bible, and the Modern World
Medjugorje Revisited: 30 Years of Visions or Religious Fraud?


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