What is the new evangelization?
What is the Catholic intellectual tradition?
What is the Benedictine tradition?
What educational programs do you offer?

What is the new evangelization?

No longer are Christians evangelizing a world that is ignorant of God, as in the ancient days. Nor are we evangelizing a world that is generally open to the mysteries of the Faith. Rather, the Church is evangelizing a modern world that has known God and has rejected Him. This, on one level, is what we mean by the “new evangelization.”

The new evangelization should not be distinguished from an “old” evangelization: the evangelistic mission of the Church has existed unchanged since the time of Christ. Instead, the new evangelization derives its novelty from the inherent newness of Christ and the Gospel, especially to all those who experience metanoia, or conversion, in the face of God. Christ’s newness is as G.K. Chesterton illustrated: “It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” Thus, while the world grows old in its moral decay, God is eternally new. This was true of the secular ancient world, and is equally true of our secular modern world. A new evangelization exists insomuch as Christ through the Church presents himself anew to an “old” world.

Thus, since it is rooted not in human ambition but in the very nature of God, the “new evangelization” should not be measured according to human standards. Nor should the Church change in order to cater to modernity, or to “assist” in human endeavors. Pope Benedict said of the new evangelization:

An old proverb says: “Success is not one of the names of God.” New evangelization must surrender to the mystery of the grain of mustard seed and not be so pretentious as to believe to immediately produce a large tree. We either live too much in the security of the already existing large tree or in the impatience of having a greater, more vital tree—instead we must accept the mystery that the Church is at the same time a large tree and a very small grain. In the history of salvation it is always Good Friday and Easter Sunday at the same time ….

This Christological and pneumatological form of evangelization is also, at the same time, an ecclesiological form: The Lord and the Spirit build the Church, communicate through the Church. The proclamation of Christ, the proclamation of the Kingdom of God presupposes listening to his voice in the voice of the Church. “Not speak on his own authority” means: to speak in the mission of the Church ….

Read more from Pope Benedict XVI on the new evangelization here.

What is the Catholic intellectual tradition?

By the Catholic intellectual tradition, we mean the teachings of the Church that have been inherited from the wellspring of Christian thought over two millennia and have been affirmed by the Magisterium of the Church. Of particular relevance is the teaching of the Medieval Scholastics. In his encyclical on Christian philosophy, Aeterni Patris, Pope Leo XIII explains:

“Domestic and civil society… would certainly enjoy a far more peaceful and secure existence if a more wholesome doctrine were taught in the universities and high schools-one more in conformity with the teaching of the Church, such as is contained in the works of Thomas Aquinas.

For, the teachings of Thomas on the true meaning of liberty, which at this time is running into license, on the divine origin of all authority, on laws and their force, on the paternal and just rule of princes, on obedience to the higher powers, on mutual charity one toward another-on all of these and kindred subjects-have very great and invincible force to overturn those principles of the new order which are well known to be dangerous to the peaceful order of things and to public safety.proposed.” In short, all studies ought to find hope of advancement and promise of assistance in this restoration of philosophic discipline which We have proposed.

What is the Benedictine tradition?

Saint Benedict of Norcia (Italy) was the founder of Western Monasticism and the patron, most recently, of Pope Benedict the XVI’s papacy. Benedict was declared by Pope Paul VI as the Patron of Europe because of his profound influence on the development of European civilization and culture. The most important source on Benedict’s life is found in the second book of St. Gregory the Great’s Dialogues.

Pope Benedict XVI, who chose his name in part due to his and all Christians debt to Saint Benedict, explained the importance of Saint Benedict and Benedictine tradition:

The Saint’s work and particularly his Rule were to prove heralds of an authentic spiritual leaven which, in the course of the centuries, far beyond the boundaries of his country and time, changed the face of Europe following the fall of the political unity created by the Roman Empire, inspiring a new spiritual and cultural unity, that of the Christian faith….

Benedict describes the Rule he wrote as “minimal, just an initial outline”; in fact, however, he offers useful guidelines not only for monks but for all who seek guidance on their journey toward God. For its moderation, humanity and sober discernment between the essential and the secondary in spiritual life, his Rule has retained its illuminating power even to today. By proclaiming St Benedict Patron of Europe on 24 October 1964, Paul VI intended to recognize the marvelous work the Saint achieved with his Rule for the formation of the civilization and culture of Europe… Having recently emerged from a century that was deeply wounded by two World Wars and the collapse of the great ideologies, now revealed as tragic utopias, Europe today is in search of its own identity. Of course, in order to create new and lasting unity, political, economic and juridical instruments are important, but it is also necessary to awaken an ethical and spiritual renewal which draws on [Christian] roots… Today, in seeking true progress, let us also listen to the Rule of St Benedict as a guiding light on our journey. The great monk is still a true master at whose school we can learn to become proficient in true humanism.

What educational programs do you offer?

With yearly conferences held at Portsmouth Abbey, and regional lectures, seminars, and colloquia held throughout the year in Portsmouth, St. Louis, and other strategic locations, the Portsmouth Institute will work towards accomplishing what the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops calls “the intellectual tasks of the new evangelization.” The Portsmouth Institute will benefit the students and faculty at our host schools in Portsmouth and St. Louis and assist adult and young adult lay Catholics in deepening their knowledge of the faith. The Institute will also provide a platform for leading Catholic scholars to affect American culture, serve the clergy and religious through education, and will encourage all the Faithful to reflect on the role of the Catholic faith in contemporary American life.