irst, a new apostolic moment is upon us at this time in the history of the Church. The Holy Spirit is bringing about what recent popes have termed the “New Evangelization.” By evangelization, we mean the sharing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by all means available, such as preaching, teaching, witnessing a fruitful and faithful family life, living celibacy for the sake of God’s Kingdom, employing media and other arts placed at the service of the Gospel. And what is new? The newness of our times is this: In the West, we find ourselves in the midst of competing cultures, particularly in cities and neighborhoods where the Gospel once permeated quite deeply. Jesus Christ’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:16–20) to go out to the whole world and share the Good News has already happened where we live! This permeation of Western culture was once so deep that in a sense, it became part of the soil, and we still stand on that soil in certain ways. It is evident in current assumptions about life, which come directly from the Greco-Roman-Judeo-Christian framework; assumptions regarding “fairness,” “equality,” “virtue,” “human dignity,” “compassion,” “representative government,” “the Golden Rule,” the “Ten Commandments,” the “hospital,” the “university,” and other clearly positive developments in the history of civilization. All this is our patrimony and inheritance from our spiritual ancestors. We find ourselves standing on this rich soil, where blessings are many because the Gospel has been taught here, received in faith, and put into practice.
Yet, at the same time, termites are hard at work in this soil. Here, in the developed desert of Arizona, we know termites well. Homebuilders know that no home built in our climate is entirely immune from these hungry, subterranean insects. Likewise, no culture — deeply Christian though it may be — is immune to the corruption of half-truths and hidden sin. Many fruits of our Christian heritage still exist, but the roots below the soil are under siege. Much about our culture remains good and must be preserved, but it would be foolish to ignore the current and growing trends that threaten the remaining good, and dangerous to risk squandering the patrimony with which we have been blessed.