The collect (opening prayer) at Mass today expresses the hopes of the New Evangelization.
Grant us, we pray, O Lord,
perseverance in obeying your will,
that in our days the people dedicated to your service
may grow in both merit and number.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
First, we ask for the strength to carry out the will of God in everything we do. Because of our weakness in adversity and infirmity, we need God’s help for us to remain steadfast in his service. For me, though, the second part of the prayer is what really caught my attention.
It matters little if our churches are filled, if they are not filled with the right sort of people. The right sort of people transcend socioeconomic groups because anyone can be dedicated to God’s service and love with God’s own love. In a word, this collect asks that the members of Christ’s faithful grow in quantity and quality. Our personal holiness is of the highest importance—not our money. However, making ourselves holy is not something we can do on own. God makes us holy. The worthy reception of the Sacraments make us holy. Our part in our sanctification is to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and remove the stumbling blocks which we put in the way.
The connection to the New Evangelization is this: we need to become holier than we are now. If we become holier, others will be drawn to enter into the dynamic of encountering Jesus in the Sacraments of the Church and living the friendship he offers. An important step for the apostles in their sanctification was the leaving of their nets at the behest of Our Lord. Most, though, just need to leave their proverbial nets because their sanctification lies in doing their present work with a Christian spirit—extraordinary well with and for the love of God. This sanctification occurs in homes and workplaces. Think about it: the Church has parishes in our communities so that we can come to better know, love, and serve Our Blessed Lord!