Life itself is a vocation!

158. The Lineamenta concluded the chapter devoted to analysing pastoral practice by adopting the basic insights of Paul VI, namely, if the Church is to evangelize, she needs to not only renew her programmes, but also increase the calibre of her testimony. The work of evangelization is not so much an organized plan or strategy, as it is, fundamentally, a spiritual matter. "Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses. ... It is therefore primarily by her conduct and by her life that the Church will evangelize the world, in other words, by her living witness of fidelity to the Lord Jesus, by her witness of poverty and detachment, and by her witness of freedom in the face of the powers of this world, in short, the witness of sanctity."84 Many particular Churches have recognized themselves in this passage and have understood the necessity of having witnesses who can evangelize primarily through their lives and example. They are certain that, in the final analysis, the key element in the work of the new evangelization is for every Christian to answer the call to holiness. Only those who have been evangelized themselves, and are being evangelized, can evangelize. In other words, only those who are capable of being spiritually renewed by encountering Jesus Christ and living a life of communion with him. Christian witness is an interaction of words and deeds85 and is the fundamental element in every act of evangelization, because it creates the relation between proclamation and freedom: "We become witnesses when, through our actions, words and way of being, Another makes himself present. Witness could be described as the means by which the truth of God's love comes to men and women in history, inviting them to accept freely this radical newness. Through witness, God lays himself open, one might say, to the risk of human freedom."86

159. The next synodal assembly is expected to clearly state the centrality of the question of a personal vocational calling in the Church today and the hope that the treatment of the topic of the new evangelization will lead to a greater consciousness among all the baptized of their missionary and evangelizing responsibility. If witnesses are to be credible in the various sectors of the new evangelization, they must know how to speak in terms which are understandable today and, in this way, proclaim within these sectors, the reasons for the hope which gives them life. The entire process of preparation and the response to the synod's work is expected to re-motivate Christians and increase their enthusiasm and dedication in the work in which they are already engaged in proclaiming and transmitting the faith. At the same time, it is to be a moment of support and encouragement for families and the role they play. More specifically, the Synod Assembly should give particular attention to the priestly ministry and the consecrated life in the hope that one of the fruits of the Synod in the Church might be new vocations to the priesthood and a renewal of her commitment to a clear and decisive programme on behalf of pastoral vocations.
160. In this regard, many responses indicated that one of the most obvious signs of weakening in the Christian experience might be the decline in vocations, which concerns both the decreasing number of vocations of special consecration in the ministerial priesthood and consecrated life and the abandonment by some of their vocations. The same is true in the widespread unfaithfulness of those who make a particular commitment in life, for example, marriage. The responses expect the Synod to discuss this matter, which is closely related to the new evangelization, not so much to confirm that the crisis exists and not only to re-enforce pastoral programmes on behalf of vocations, which has already been done, but rather, in a deeper sense, to foster a mentality in which life itself is looked upon as a vocation.

161. The transmission of faith needs to consider helping people conceive within themselves a vital relationship with the God who calls them. In this regard, Pope Benedict XVI stated: "In stressing faith's intrinsic summons to an ever deeper relationship with Christ, the word of God in our midst, the Synod also emphasized that this word calls each one of us personally, revealing that life itself is a vocation from God. In other words, the more we grow in our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, the more we realize that he is calling us to holiness in and through the definitive choices by which we respond to his love in our lives, taking up tasks and ministries which help to build up the Church. This is why the Synod frequently encouraged all Christians to grow in their relationship with the word of God, not only because of their Baptism, but also in accordance with their call to various states in life."87 One of the signs of the effectiveness of the new evangelization will be a rediscovery of life itself as a vocation and an increase in the personal call to a radical following of Jesus Christ.

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