At the heart of the move from Counter-Reformation Catholicism to an Evangelical Catholicism is, George Weigel asserts, a wish for a new Pentecost in the life of the Church. It was this wish for a new Pentecost that lead Pope John XXIII to inaugurate the Second Vatican Council, and it was the hope behind Pope John Paul II’s call for the ‘New Evangelization’ that would flow from the Great Jubilee of 2000. As Weigel observes, however, to wish for a new Pentecost is to play with fire.
The fire of the Holy Spirit purifies, inspires, and fuses men and women together into a new human community, the Church. Through each of its members, and in them as a whole, the Church is the Body of Christ on earth. Paul, Barnabas, and all who have been truly converted to Christ – such that friendship with Christ and extension of the possibility of friendship with Christ to others has become the basic dynamic of their lives – have become something different. Radically converted Christians have become men and women marked by tongues of fire, animated by the Spirit, whose abiding presence they recognize in the liturgy by their common prayer, their exchange of the peace of Christ, and their common reception of the Lord’s body and blood. (p 19)
Being animated by the Holy Spirit – marked by a ‘tongue of fire’ as it were – should be the mark of the Christian in a world that is at times openly hostile to Christ and Christians. It is a deliberate position, rather than a cultural position, and
…there is nothing easy, simple, or comfortable about Evangelical Catholicism. The cultural Catholicism of the past was “comfortable” because it fit neatly within the ambient public culture, causing little chafing between one’s life “in the Church” and one’s life “in the world”. Evangelical Catholicism, by contrast, is a counterculture that seeks to convert the ambient public culture by proclaiming certain truths, by worshipping in spirit and in truth, and by modeling a more humane way of life. Evangelical Catholicism does not seek to “get along”; it seeks to convert. (p 19)
Weigel concludes by saying “…lukewarm Catholicism has no future: submitting to the transforming fire of the Holy Spirit is no longer optional” (p 20).
George Weigel, Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church (New York: Basic Books, 2013). ISBN: 978-0-465-02768-2.