The last words of someone are usually considered extremely important. Perhaps they express a final wish, or summarize what was most important to the person. Thus we do well to consider the final words of Jesus just before he ascended into heaven:

Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt 28:19-20).

This is often called the “Great Commission” in the sense that it is the overarching mission, job one, the standing orders for the Church, for any Catholic. There is nothing ambiguous about it either. Jesus says go! But where Lord? Everywhere! Every nation, every person. And Do what? Make disciples of them by drawing them into the sacramental life of the Church through baptism and teaching them everything I have commanded. Finally He bids us have no fear of this for he is with us to the end.

Pretty clear, right? And yet it is possible for the Church, a parish or a Catholic to push Job One down the list. Pray, sure, attend Mass, OK, tithe, I’ll try. Evangelize? Oops, I’m a little busy and rather shy too, you understand…..

Time to Obey – After years of declining Mass attendance, churches closing, schools, seminaries and convents shuttering their doors, children and family members no longer practicing their faith, perhaps it is just time to get back into the business of obeying Jesus Christ and his command that we evangelize. It’s not the job of some committee in the parish, it’s your job and mine. It’s not merely the pastor’s job, it’s the parishioners too. Remember, shepherds don’t have sheep, sheep have sheep. It’s easy to blame the Church or the liturgy or poor catechesis but the primary place the faith is handed on in the family. Pastor’s have to lead but the Pastor isn’t at your dinner table every night, not at your workplace, family gathering or neighborhood meeting. All of us have to do this, all of us must obey.

A Parish that Obeys has a Future – In my own parish, after years of declining numbers we’ve decided to obey Christ. I had been assigned to this parish in the early 90s and Mass attendance was at about 800 each Sunday, about average for a city parish. I left to pastor elsewhere in the diocese and upon my return to this parish I noticed a much emptier Church and looked to the usher counts for recent Sundays: 482, 502, 473, 512. In ten years the count had dropped 38%. 300 people had drifted away.  People seemed unaware of this. When people disappear one by one over ten years it’s less noticeable. But I, returning after ten years noticed it. And my parish is not unique. Most parishes are down in numbers from what they used to be.

Now some folks like to “explain” declining numbers by talking about demographics, sociological trends, secularization and the like.  But thank God, I’m blessed with a parish that wants to hear from God, which knows that God can make a way out of no way, a parish which prays for their pastor to get a Word from the Lord. And the Lord did not disappoint. The word was simple, “Obey.”  Obey the great commission, obey Job One. The Lord seemed rather clear and put it on my heart to say to the Parish that if we will obey the Lord in this we have a future. If we do not obey him we do not deserve to exist. For too long the Catholic approach to evangelization was to open the doors and expect people to come. But Jesus sent them out to where people were to call and invite and evangelize. It’s time to obey.

So, for the past year we have been preparing through prayer and study to go forth in a door to door campaign into our neighborhood. Jesus sent his disciples out two by two and so we also will go in obedience. Almost Fifty people have agreed to make the weekly walk for 8 weeks starting September 11. Fifty will pray while we walk and others will prepare a meal on our return. We’re stepping out. I do not know if the Lord will give us many new souls or few but only this I know, if we obey, we have a future.

We are also reaching back into our families and inviting them back, listening to their concerns and setting forth a host of activities. These activities are  designed to draw them back and interest our neighbors so we can get to know them and make the invitation to be disciples. We will have concerts, the blessing of the animals, Bible studies, civic meetings etc. Anything to get folks here and meet them, befriend them and invite them to discipleship. Just the beauty of our building and joy of our parishioners preaches Christ. I preparation I’ve been walking the neighborhood and meeting people.

In the Archdiocese of Washington as well we are getting focused anew on Job One. The Archbishop is preparing a pastoral letter on Evangelization. He’s been restructuring the Central Pastoral Administration around the task of evangelizing. We’re reaching out in new ways such as this blog, and preparing to do far more by revamping the Website, reaching out through Youtube, podcasting, direct and targeted e-mail, focused facebook  pages and other social media. The Archbishop’s letter will reveal other plans as well. We want to be more pro-active and obey Christ by intensifying our work to explicitly evangelize using all the new methods available.

And perhaps you’ve heard that Catholic Radio has come in the last month to the Nation’s Capital: WMET 1160 AM. You can also stream the signal at their website here: http://grnonline.info/  The station presents EWTN programming and is part of the Guadalupe Radio Network. Soon enough, local programming will also be presented in addition to the EWTN lineup. This presents a great leap forward in the ability of the Archdiocese and the wider Church  to fulfill the mandate of Jesus to evangelize, to proclaim the Gospel to everyone.

And what of you? How do you obey the mandate of Christ to evangelize? Every Sunday at Mass you are sent forth by the deacon or priest with these words: The Mass is ended, go in peace.” There’s that word again: Go. It means “Go and tell someone what you have heard and seen. Tell someone of Jesus whom you have met in this liturgy and who has ministered to you with his Word and sacrament. Tell someone what a difference he has made in your life.”  Go.

These days evangelization comes in many different forms. Even if you’re shy, what does it take to do things like:

  1. E-mail a friend a link about a great blog post or article you read?
  2. Send the link to the new radio station: http://grnonline.info/.
  3. Send Links to YouTube videos that inspire.
  4. There are great Catholic Websites and blogs. The New evangelization has made it easier to connect people to answers and resources. Sites like www.newadvent.org  and the Catholic Answers website www.Catholic.com  are rich veins information and encouragement.
  5. Some of you who are technically savvy can help your pastor podcast his sermons or get them out on YouTube. Maybe you can help breathe new life into an out of date webpage.
  6. Talk to your family members who are fallen away and ask them “where it hurts.” Find out what has kept them away and share the story of your own faith.
  7. Get in the habit of inviting unchurched people to join you for special events at your parish. Not everyone is ready for a pew but a Chicken dinner might at least establish some connections where evangelization can take place.
  8. Tell folks you’re praying for them and actually do it. Ask for prayer requests.
  9. And pray, pray, pray for an increase, for a new springtime in the Church. Too many souls today are drifting and the Lord needs us to obey in order to save some.

The Bottom line is that we have got to get back into the business of obeying Jesus Christ in the mandate to Evangelize. To be a disciple means to obey. Jesus was not ambiguous about his final wish: Go, Go everywhere, in every available way. Go. Make disciples of everyone by drawing them into the sacramental life of the Church and teaching them everything the Lord has commanded. Go.

33 Responses

  1. CS says:

    Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. and Amen!

  2. Vonna says:

    Being a cradle Catholic, I’m lax on the knowledge of “where’d that come from?” when I’m talking my faith with someone non-Catholic. Oh I an site this and that and what I believe, but I can’t say well in John 2:16 it says… to back up a reason of something I believe, where Protestants will frame their beliefs with a bible quotation before, during and after their position.

    I have a true yearning to “know” why I believe what I believe so that I can first educate myself and then educate my family. I have pulled out the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the family Bible and then our set of the Apostolate’s Family Catechism. I’m taking a half hour in the morning and starting off by praying a rosary with one of the intentions to be that the Holy Spirit helps me in the knowledge I seek and for the nonbelievers to be illuminated. I’m truly trying to learn and “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk” thus one of the reasons that one of my daily stops is your posts Mgsr. Keep up the good work, I’m listening. (well reading…)

    • J says:

      One can nearly memorize the Gospels in two or three years by reading one chapter per day with strict regularity.

      And this takes about five minutes of the day. I.e., three red lights. Or one reading of an online news article. Or one segment of a TV sit-com.

      :)

  3. Dismas says:

    Well, this is way off topic but I’m struck by another ‘Popeism’ that will stick with me for a long time:

    ‘Remember, shepherds don’t have sheep, sheep have sheep.’ which is right up there with ‘There’s just too much stinkin’ thinkin’ out there; our minds become so easily corrupted by a world gone mad…’

  4. J says:

    I love how Monsignor Pope challenges his congregation. Give me a word, Father!

  5. Joe says:

    Evangelization, increasing the Faith of it’s members, visiting and praying with the homebound are the hall marks of the Legion of Mary (LOM). Every parish and Pastor should be promoting and encouring his flock to participate in the LOM.

  6. Tim H says:

    Faith is strong here in the south. Unfortunately, many are taught errors in the Evangelical and “Full gospel” churches. Evangelicals, Baptists and other Bible-believers will ask, “Where is that in the Bible?” Here in the south, one has to know the basics of the Bible and the key passages from which Catholic doctrines are drawn. I would offer that if you don’t read the bible, then forget about it.

    One thing I do is to carry some cards, tracts or other very brief printed material in my backpack, which speak to some doctrine or custom of the Catholic Church and how it is firmly rooted in the Bible. Church authority, marian doctrine, oral confession to a priest, and apostolic succession are subjects which seem to be of great interest. When I have occasion to converse with strangers, co-workers, etc about faith, I am able to hand people something in print which explains exactly how the Catholic faith is 100% consistent with scripture.

    As an example, a preschool child was interested in the ashes on my forehead on Ash Wednesday and so I eplained it very simply to the little girl and then engaged her mother in brief converstation. I was able to explain that a mark on the forehead was a sign of ownership in Biblical times gave her a half-page explanation of Ash Wednesday in general which contained a quote from Revelation 14:1 where it speaks about, “a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.” Here reply was, “Oh, that’s so cool!”

    There are some tracts at the Catholic Answers website at http://www.catholic.com/library/faith_tracts.asp.

    Another technique I have used is to simply ask, “Have you ever been to a Catholic Mass?” Most often the answer is, “Well, I’ve been to a wedding once.” I invite the person to join me for Sunday breakfast and then to Mass(I don’t eat unless it is early enough). I offer to explain the basics of what they will experience at mass, the penitential rite, the liturgy of the Word and Eucharist, what the words of consecration actually do and why we kneel out of holy reverence. Evangelicals expecially like the sanctus!

    I would also offer this… simply be excited about your faith. People are excited about football, Nascar and golf, and here in the south, people are excited about Jesus Christ. I join right in, speak up and say, “I’m Catholic and my heart is on fire for Jesus Christ and the Church he established!”

    Monsignor, I will pray for your effort before the Blessed Sacrament.

    -Tim-

  7. A says:

    The LORD bless you and keep you!
    The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
    The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!

    Num 6:24-26

    Good Luck! Please give us updates!

  8. Anne says:

    Can just praying for someone be evangelization? My mother-in-law is a agnostic secular Jew who is very pro Israel, and very proud of Jewish culture, but is not observant except for a few things such as eating only matzoh during Passover or lighting Hannukah candles. She is also rather anti-Catholic, and has the New York Times(her favorite paper) philosophy – abortion rights gay marriage etc. We were estranged from her for a few years because of these religious differences but re-established a cordial relationship some time ago. We never discuss religion because it is painful and ultimately would lead to another estrangement.

    we focus on what we can enjoy together – baseball, the grandchildren, museums, playing board games etc. I am a cradle Catholic and both of my sons practice their Catholic faith. My husband has converted to the Catholic faith five years ago but has never told her…she is 80 has serious health problems and he simply doesn’t want to initiate World War 3 or exacerbate her already serious health issues. Can our prayers and kindness to a difficult woman be fulfilling our duty to evangelize in this particular situation? Thank You. Anne

  9. Bender says:

    Like I’ve said — people simply put the graces of Confirmation in the closet, unopened and unused, because they have not a clue as to what they are or why they are.

    It is bad enough with the folks who argue against “active participation” in the Mass, but trying to instill in them the idea of, not mere membership in the Church, but active participation in the mission of the Church to be a witness for Christ and help Him in the work of salvation?? Ha!

    But it is not because the people are bad — they simply do not know.

  10. Bender says:

    Can our prayers and kindness to a difficult woman be fulfilling our duty to evangelize in this particular situation?

    Yes, Anne. Our being a witness for Christ implicitly means being an effective witness, and it is often very ineffective when we bash people over the head with Him. Sometimes the best way to be a light of Christ to the world is to simply exhibit love in truth. By authentically loving one another, by living truth, we are a witness of Christ to the world because He is Love and He is Truth.

    The Good News of love and hope can be shared with others without uttering the name “Jesus” or the words “Catholic Church,” at least until their hearts are open to explicitly hearing about Him.

    Your mother-in-law already knows you are Catholic (presumably) — you do not need to rub her nose in it. Rather, simply show her love as you have been. In time, perhaps she will begin to connect the dots — Anne is the most loving person I know, Anne is Catholic . . . hmm . . . could it be that one is related to the other?

    • Bender says:

      A few days ago, we celebrated the feasts of St. Monica and St. Augustine.

      Augstine, the great doctor of the Church, was not always a saint and not always the great doctor of the Church. He started out as a wayward sinner. And his mother, Monica, once went to a well-respected and knowledgeable bishop and asked him to speak to her son and set him straight. The bishop refused.

      The bishop declined to speak to Augustine and refute his errors, telling Monica that Augustine was “still unripe for instruction.” He told her instead, “Leave him alone. Just pray to God for him. From his own reading, he will discover his mistakes and the depth of his profanity.” Monica insisted and kept pestering the bishop until he told her, “Leave me and go in peace. It cannot be that the son of these tears should be lost.” In time, Monica understood these words to be a message from heaven. (Confessions, book III, ch. 12).

      The lesson is that if the person we are dealing with is not ready to accept the Word, we should not force it upon her or him. Rather than the frontal assault approach, we need to be a little more tactful, and use a flanking manuever, going around their defenses. Soften them up until their hearts are soft enough to be willing to hear the Word. Give them the Light of love and truth, so that they can begin to see for themselves the errors they have burdened themselves with, so as to ask you to tell you about God.

      • Bender says:

        Correction —

        so that they can begin to see for themselves the errors they have burdened themselves with, so as to ask you to tell you about God.

        should be — “so that they can begin to see for themselves the errors they have burdened themselves with, so as to ask you to tell them about God.” That is, they will then actively seek God on their own initiative and desire, rather than you having to sell God to them.

  11. Grandpa Tom says:

    Training. I would love to evangelize beyond family and friends. Here in Utah I get Mormon Missionaries and Jehovah’s Witnesses evangelizing all the time. They come with prepared literature the leave for reading, and have a formated presentation. When I successfully rebutt their presentation and try to convert them, they always want to return with higher ranking persons. The Mormons usually start out with priests they call Aaron, and return with priest of the Melchizedek rank, the Jehovah’s bring back elder Brothers and Sisters.
    The book “The Essential Catholic Survival Guide,” by the Staff of Catholic Answers, provides answers to tough questions about our faith such as why do Catholics pray to saints, ect. Said book also provides material on what those other religions false teachings are, and how they present their false beliefs. Another good book is “Nuts and Bolts,” by Tim Staples. This book has some elementary greek so a person knows what Thomas said in John 20:28 ‘My lord and my God;’ “ho kurios mou kai ho theos mou (the Lord of me, and the God of me).” Good to know when encountering the J.W.’s.
    If you have material, and a format to present your opening message to the diversity of people in their homes, I would be interested in receiving any training and handouts you use in door to door witnessing.
    May God bless you in this endeavor. Put on the Armor of God.

    • Cynthia BC says:

      Grandpa Tom,

      A neighbor of mine was visited by a pair of Mormons a couple of autumns ago.

      He talked to them…while they ended up doing most of the work putting up the family’s Sukkah (sp?).

  12. Vijaya says:

    Amen! I never ever thought I was an evangelist but I cannot stop talking about Jesus … so when we’re out and about with my kiddos, we talk to whoever will listen. Thankfully our parish has enough picnics and such that we can invite people to … There is the matter of Holy Communion, where many people feel “unwelcome” because we tell them they cannot partake unless they are Catholic. But then who am I to deny Jesus to anybody? Help, please.

    By the way, in Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, it boils down to this in the end — the great commission.

  13. Jerald Franklin Archer says:

    I never find a better time to evangelize the Catholic faith than when I am accosted by a protestant who inevitably will ask “Are you saved?”. I am aware how to answer only because I have a solid apologetic training. I get to practice is a great deal. When the fundamentalist icebreaker question is spoken, and I have explained the Catholic position on how to attain salvation, then I ask “Now, are you sure your Saved?” I usually get a lost, blank look, but not a firm affirmation of the FACT they are. Why the doubts now? It is a living example of the error of “once saved, always saved”. They cannot prove it, even if it has been told to them they were. Being told something and knowing for a fact it is true, are two very different things.

    They usually do truly love Christ, so a common ground is already established. It is a lack of education that is more of a problem than a lack of faith. But since they have met up with me, now we can work together to educate each other. The protestant can explain the errors, which are educational indications to me as to where I need to go in my evangelistic process, and I can educate them, as to the teachings of the Church. They get an education, learn truth, and how the road to salvation may require they change there present course. I let them know that I am not St. Augustine, so some things I may have to look up. I let them know being a Catholic is HARD work (as is that salvation thing) and one must be prepared to defend their positions at all times. There is no room for wishy-washy soldiers in the Army of Christ.

    There conversion will not happen overnight. I get no other satisfaction that they will walk away with very pressing questions on their minds that will hopefully prompt them to do further research on their own. The best teacher in the world is useless unless they offer the student the resources to further study and the ability of being available to answer questions. Protestants pride themselves on having a very good resource at hand, the Bible. It is not enough, as it is only the beginning.Many protestants do not realize that everything the Catholic Church teaches is biblical. Some do not even realize the Church gave them the Bible! I have heard everything from “King James wrote it” to “it fell out of the sky when Adam and Eve were around”….oh, boy.

    Use the bible for it’s purpose: to edify and correct. A good lawyer never uses one law-book or physician one reference source to diagnose diseases. I explain fully why Sola Scriptura is not only illogical, self-refuting and un-scholarly. but most importantly, why it is dangerous. The practice of Sola Scriptura is like a large boulder in the path of the Catholic evangelist’s progress. It must be removed before any progress is made.

    I want them to be sure that all that I will present is the TRUTH, an often misused word with protestants through history. I do not challenge them to prove anything to me, as the Church has already done that for over 1500 years. I challenge them to disprove the teachings of the Church. None have succeeded to this day. This gets the thought going in their minds: “This Catholic guy is so CONFIDENT he is correct. Maybe there is something a Catholic knows that I do not. I cannot wait to get home to look it up online”. Give them good lumber and they will build a strong house. Once the house is built, help them with the upkeep. If one want to know (fully) about Christ, they must know His Church. There is never a compromise or shortcut to Truth.

  14. Tim H says:

    Practical Advice for One-on-One Evangelization

    http://timhollingworth.blogspot.com/2010/09/practical-advice-for-catholic.html

    @Grandpa Tom. Thanks for the book tip about the Greek. JW come to my door all the time. I work on them as hard as they work on me. I also find that “Catholicism vs Fundamentalism” is a great book, especialy here in the south.

    Echoing what you said, links to any training material, books, etc would be warmly welcomed.

    Our parish is starting a Welcome Home program. I can’t wait!

    -Tim-

  15. Grandpa Tom says:

    Tim H. I appreciate the “thank-you.” I am happy to help fellow soldiers in Christ. The reason that greek translation is important is because in John 20:27, Thomas had just placed his finger into the wounds on Christ’s hands and side; Thomas answer at 20:28 shows he recognizes Jesus as Lord and God; at 20:29 Jesus does not rebuke Thomas for calling Him Lord, or God. The J.W.’s here are stumped because they claim Jesus was an apperation of St. Michael the Arch-Angel. Then show them Hebrews 1:5, and ask them to which angel did God ever say: “You are my Son; I, today have became your father?” They believe Jesus was not divine. To the J.W.’s the Crucifixion is cruci-Fiction. Their book / bible does not contain the word Cross, or crucifiction, because they believe Jesus was impaled on a stake. I show them 1 Cor. 1:18, the cross…is the power of God. God bless. I am going to visit your blog site.

  16. allan alquinto says:

    amen, amen and amen!

  17. Cynthia BC says:

    The efforts to get people in the door will be to no avail if there is no effort to keep people engaged once they’re there.

    No one at the Catholic parish my family attends has offered to me his or her name. When I’ve offered mine they look at me as if I have three heads, as in who IS this person and WHY is she talking to me? The only people who can put names to our faces are people we know from outside church. We’ve given up on parish social events.

    It took over three months for anyone in the parish’s KoC council to respond to my husband’s interest in joining the chapter, despite emailing various officers, snagging various ushers, and speaking with someone selling Christmas cards at the parish’s Craft Fair. Finally my husband was able to collar the Past GK at a Feast of the Immaculate Conception because he recognized him from a picture on the website. It took another six months for my husband to get his Secret Decoder Rosary. He’ll pitch in for the occasional service project but that’s about it. He’s pretty much given up on them.

    My husband’s and my offers to help with instrumental music have been ignored, with the exception of a parochial vicar’s last Sunday in the parish, and then only because I rather forcefully insisted. We had hoped that, having demonstrated that we weren’t a pair of yutzes, that perhaps our gifts would be welcomed, but that hasn’t been the case. At this past Feast of All Souls it was all I could do not to howl with pain at the various interpretations of pitch among the wind players and the multiple guitars. To add injury to insult I already was in mourning for my mother, who had been admitted to hospice care three days earlier (and who died nine days later). We’ve given up on the parish’s music ministry program, too.

    Fortunately I also have a Lutheran church home, without which I would wither away. There, my family’s gifts are welcomed. Even my fourth-grader is an active participant in the parish (as a public-school student she’s largely excluded from ministries at the Catholic parish for her age group), and my Catholic husband has contributed far more his musical gifts there then he’ll ever be able to at his parish. Far more than a scant handful of people know our names.

    I would hope that most Catholic parishes would do better than the cold shoulder we’ve received, but here are my suggestions:

    1. If you’re the cantor, announce the celebrant and which Mass setting is being used. Not everyone knows who the guy behind the altar is, and not everyone may be familiar with the Mass setting.

    2. If you’re in charge of a particular ministry, promptly respond to expressions of interest. Failing to do so will turn off someone who could have been a blessing to the parish.

    3. Instead of skedaddling before the last note of the recessional hymn has finished echoing in the nave, take a moment after Mass to introduce yourself to someone whose name you don’t know.

    Priests come and go. The vitality of a faith community is NOT the sole responsibility of the priest, in fact it’s almost wholly dependent on its parishioners. It is not “someone else’s” job to ensure that our parishes survive. The onus is on each of us.

  18. Robertlifelongcatholic says:

    I know God will make your efforts abundantly fruitful becuase you teach the faithful to fish, not eat out of your hand. A truer disciple is no more than the likes of your obedience and mission. Our prayers are that we may all walk with confidence and faith as you have taught.

  19. Jan Schredl says:

    Monsignor Pope, may you live a hundred years!! God bless you for doing His work! How exciting and wonderful what you have undertaken in your parish! What you have proposed is like giving spinach to Popeye! Can you be cloned?!! (and send a copy to cynthia’s parish!) I, too, say AMEN!

    Although I hail from British Columbia, to the North of you, I have a contribution I would like to offer, as part of the universal Church! I was once the teenager who, being given a religious book, threw it over my shoulder into the closet thinking `Borrrinng`. I see myself reflected in many people today who would never pick up a `religious`book, and do not know the wonderful resources that are out there to feed their faith. And then there are our fallen away sons and daughters and friends for whom any talk of religion is a taboo subject. And, other than the lives of the saints, there is a dirth of the kind of catholic witness stories that are so influential in supporting the faith of others. The late Cardinal Avery Dulles said, “The living testimony of believers rather than philosphical arguments are what is needed today. In former days we focused on `how we get to God`; today it is more important to understand `how God comes to us“. I recently published a book called `Graffiti On My Soul`under the pen name Johanna, which I see as a tool for the `new evangelization`. Because it presents itself like a suspense novel (and may keep you awake at night!) it can be given without offense to relatives and friends to whom you cannot talk to about God, but Graffiti On My Soul is a “faith witness in disguise“, a memoir about God-with-us, and is thoroughly Catholic, pro-life and Eucharistic. I see it as a good (Catholic) counterpoint to such wildly popular books as The Shack, which are drawing in thousands of Catholic readers with a very warm and engaging portrayal of the Trinity– coupled with very bad theology. Many regret that the Shack is fiction; my book is true. John J. Cleary of Liguori Publications said of Graffiti On My Soul: `Without a doubt this is an impassioned book, beautiful and touching, inspired and faith filled!“ My hope is that it wil help in spreading the seed of God, and awakening the slumbering faith of so many that stand on the fringes of faith. I have written the book, but it cannot spread without your help…. For more information check it out on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

  20. Peter Wolczuk says:

    My first impression was that this post made me uncomfortable. My next impression was that this article led me to confront a discomfort which I already had and was hiding from. Thank you.

  21. Bill Robberson says:

    OK-if I knock on a door and the occupant isn’t a Christian what should I discuss first?

    Talk about the Church and the Great Commission as you paraphrased i.e. “Make disciples of them by drawing them into the sacramental life of the Church (BTW this isn’t what the Great Commission says) through baptism and teaching them everything I have commanded.”?

    OR talk about Jesus Christ i.e. ” He said to them, ‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.'” Mark 16:15,16. And, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”John 3:16.

    In other words are you saying that to evangelize the lost it’s first the Church then Jesus rather than the other way around? If so, and I certainly hope not, then I totally disagree.

    I would hope you agree that many Catholics are not Christians and that many Christians are not Catholics. Maybe the Church should consider preaching the Gospel more thoroughly to Catholics and should consider preaching the Church (the body of Christ) to more Christians.

  22. Bender says:

    OK-if I knock on a door and the occupant isn’t a Christian what should I discuss first?

    Love.

    Love and the human condition of misery and drudgery and suffering. Love as compassion, “suffering with” those who suffer.

    Love and the possibility of hope. Authentic hope. Trustworthy hope. More trustworthy than anything of this world, which will all one day turn to dust.

    • Bender says:

      Note that, notwithstanding His reading from Isaiah early on and saying that the scriptures were fulfilled, Jesus did NOT start out His ministry saying to the world, “Hey everybody, I’m the Messiah. I’m the Son of God.” To be sure, when people did confess that to Him, like Simon, henceforth known as Peter, Jesus told him and the Apostles to keep quiet about it.

      It was not until the people were sufficiently prepared that Jesus became more explicit about who He is.

      The soil of those non-Christians who open the door must be prepared before the seed of Christ is planted. Otherwise, the birds will come and eat it up, or the seed will never take root, or if it takes root, it will soon succumb to the weeds.

    • Bill Robberson says:

      Bender-Jesus is love and love conquers all. So, lets not worry about bird seed etc. and just allow the Holy Spirit to draw the unsaved to the Truth-Him!

  23. Bender says:

    Bill — the parable is not mine, but His. He told it for a reason.

  24. Bill Robberson says:

    Bender-what he is referring to in scripture is “before the decent of the Holy Spirit”. Further, faith is an undeserved gift from God, a Grace. The Holy Spirit prepares the soil/soul (not us) and only then is the unsaved individual prepared to accept or reject God’s gift. You and I are just available for God to use as He sees fit (maybe to prepare the soil), a “vessel” if you will. But, I suspect He can get along quite effectively without me. However, when He “kinda” uses me (I think) then I believe my life has purpose and therefore meaning.

  25. fm radio stations in Alabama says:

    The efforts to get people in the door will be to no avail if there is no effort to keep people engaged once they’re there.

    No one at the Catholic parish my family attends has offered to me his or her name. When I’ve offered mine they look at me as if I have three heads, as in who IS this person and WHY is she talking to me? The only people who can put names to our faces are people we know from outside church. We’ve given up on parish social events.

    It took over three months for anyone in the parish’s KoC council to respond to my husband’s interest in joining the chapter, despite emailing various officers, snagging various ushers, and speaking with someone selling Christmas cards at the parish’s Craft Fair. Finally my husband was able to collar the Past GK at a Feast of the Immaculate Conception because he recognized him from a picture on the website. It took another six months for my husband to get his Secret Decoder Rosary. He’ll pitch in for the occasional service project but that’s about it. He’s pretty much given up on them.

    My husband’s and my offers to help with instrumental music have been ignored, with the exception of a parochial vicar’s last Sunday in the parish, and then only because I rather forcefully insisted. We had hoped that, having demonstrated that we weren’t a pair of yutzes, that perhaps our gifts would be welcomed, but that hasn’t been the case. At this past Feast of All Souls it was all I could do not to howl with pain at the various interpretations of pitch among the wind players and the multiple guitars. To add injury to insult I already was in mourning for my mother, who had been admitted to hospice care three days earlier (and who died nine days later). We’ve given up on the parish’s music ministry program, too.

    Fortunately I also have a Lutheran church home, without which I would wither away. There, my family’s gifts are welcomed. Even my fourth-grader is an active participant in the parish (as a public-school student she’s largely excluded from ministries at the Catholic parish for her age group), and my Catholic husband has contributed far more his musical gifts there then he’ll ever be able to at his parish. Far more than a scant handful of people know

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