In this new year, say a prayer for the renewal of our Catholic Church.
The world today needs to hear the Gospel message in a new way. And the world today is looking to the Church — to each one of us — for the word of life and hope, for the truth that sets us free.
Jesus is the answer to every question in every human heart. And only his Church can show people the way to live and the path to true happiness.
But as St. Paul asked a long time ago: How can people believe in Jesus if they’ve never heard about him? And how will they hear about him unless someone tells them?
We are the ones — every one of us in his Church — who have to tell the world about Jesus and about the joy of believing in him.
That’s what the year 2012 should be all about for us.
Of course, 2012 is going to be a big year for us in America. It’s an election year, and that means we have big issues to face and big decisions to make — in our cities, in our state, and in our country.
But in the life of our Church, 2012 also promises to be a year of grace and renewal.
Here in Los Angeles, later this year we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of our beautiful mother church, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Also, sometime this spring, my brother bishops and I will join the rest of the California bishops in traveling to Rome for our ad limina meetings with Pope Benedict XVI.
Our Holy Father has set this entire year of 2012 in the context of the renewal of our faith and the new evangelization.
In October, bishops from around the world will gather in Rome for the Synod for Bishops called by the Pope to examine “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.”
And on October 11, we will begin the “Year of Faith” that our Holy Father has declared to mark the 50th anniversary of the start of the Second Vatican Council.
In this Year of Faith, the Pope wants us all to have a new conversion, to go deeper in our spiritual lives and in our commitment to the Gospel.
Pope Benedict believes that the love of God has grown cold in the hearts of many. He talks about a “profound crisis of faith.”
We are the ones — every one of us in his Church — who have to tell the world about Jesus and about the joy of believing in him. That’s what the year 2012 should be all about for us.
This crisis of faith is a challenge and a responsibility for each of us. That’s what the new evangelization is all about.
Because underlying the many troubles we face in our society, including the problems in our economy, there is a basic insecurity and confusion about the meaning of life — about what we should be living for and why.
But the people we need to evangelize first are ourselves. The new evangelization begins in your hearts and in mine. That’s what I mean by renewal in the Church.
To renew our Church, we need bishops who are seeking “to draw ever closer to God … to be able to love him more and more,” as our Holy Father said last week. We need bishops who have what the Pope calls the “courage of humility … able to go ahead and mark out the path ... in the footsteps of him who went ahead of us all because he is the true Shepherd.”
To renew our Church, we also need priests who celebrate the sacred mysteries with reverence. Men who are ministers of reconciliation and apostolic souls who want to bring Christ to the world and the world to Christ.
We need deacons who are men of prayer and service. And we need religious and consecrated men and women who witness to the ageless value of a life dedicated to Jesus Christ.
Finally, renewal means we need lay faithful who know what they believe and why they believe it, and who are not afraid to defend their beliefs in the public square — no matter what obstacles are posed by our secularized society.
We need men and women in all walks of life who, by their simple witness to their Catholic faith, can open the hearts of others to God’s love and open their minds to the beauty and truth of the Christian message.
So in this new year that Jesus Christ opens up for us, let us all strive to be the Catholics we are called to be!
Let’s pray for one another and let’s pray for the renewal of his Church — beginning with the renewal of our own hearts.
And let’s us ask our Mary our Blessed Mother to accompany us in this year of renewal and to help us grow in our faith in Jesus and our desire to tell others about him.