January 18, 2009

Catholic, Evangelize This!

Reposted from Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

crossI’ve been Catholic all my life, and have grown to cherish this church where God found me, broke me upon his knee, humbled me, and taught me to turn back to His ways and His Word and follow His example.

But one of the things I see so rarely in Catholicism is the willingness to evangelize.

True, in my parish there are ladies who go from door to door every weekend, sharing their faith with people willing to answer their doors. Sadly this is not something everyone in the parish does, although it is indeed God’s command that we share the Gospel with the world.

So, why are we so afraid to do so?

I really think it boils down to the lack of proper training and formation. From the earliest moments in the faith, there should be a nurturing of the spirit of evangelism. There should be a training in knowledge of the faith, enough to clearly explain what one believes in and why, and a companion encouragement to the believer to share what he knows with all he meets. And yet, for many people who have been born into the Catholic faith, there isn’t much of this training. End result: a fearful inadequacy in the face of other faiths who are much more eloquent about what they believe in.

But we can’t be bashful about this! We are commanded to go and do as Christ did, to carry out the Great Commission of Matthew 28:16-20: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”

So how can us Catholics evangelize?

One set of answers lies in an old Catholic Answers website article: 12 Painless Ways to Evangelize, which lists 12 creative ways to spread more knowledge about the faith. I love that it basically takes its cue from a lot of the other more assertive faiths out there, those that spread a lot of tracts and do a lot of door-knocking. There are some pretty useful tips in there. Although maybe that list SHOULD be updated by now, after all it is an article that is 7 years old.

You can, and should, find the time to inform yourself. And by inform I mean, READ. First and foremost: Read the Holy Bible! Too many of us Catholics plod through life thinking that going to Mass is the only way to hear God’s Word in our lives. It’s not the only way. There is the written Word. And then there is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which lists the Catholic doctrines that are all supported by scripture. Read them, know them. There are many other books to support these first two. Bookstores and libraries carry them. Go buy, or borrow some books, and never stop learning about the faith.

Another way is to simply talk with people. The person beside you on the bus stop, the plumber fixing your sink, the man delivering your mail. If the opportunity comes up, don’t hesitate to invite him to Mass at your parish. If it doesn’t, then at the very least, you were kind and friendly.

I guess though, the best evangelism tip I’ve ever heard is (supposedly) from Saint Francis of Assissi (although that's been debunked): "Go out and preach the gospel… and if you must, use words.” The actual written form goes: "Let all the brothers, however, preach by their deeds."

Meaning: live a good, God-ly, Christ-like life — a life so suffused with the Holy Spirit that your days becomes a living testimony of God’s power to change hearts.

No comments:

Post a Comment