When we think of evangelization there is a danger that we think first of biggie-wow projects, committees, and Church-wide efforts. Surely these are needed. The Church at the highest levels needs to expand our outreach in all the new media and re-propose the Gospel in creative and ever-widening ways. The same is true at diocesan and parish levels, where coordinated, thoughtful and intentional efforts are made to expand the Kingdom of God.
But don’t miss the little and daily ways that evangelization must first take place.
Consider that evangelization begins:
- When Catholics attend to their own conversion and seek to grow in holiness, wisdom and knowledge of God
- When parents spend time praying with their children, reading them bible stories, the lives of the saints and explaining the Catechism.
- When parents bring their children to Mass every Sunday without fail and make family prayer a priority.
- When parents are seen to pray by their children, seen to go to confession, and seen to be devout and joyful at Mass.
- When parents carefully monitor what their children are watching, listening to and viewing on the Internet and other media and both protect them from evil and explain to them why certain things are wrong and to be avoided.
- When spouses pray together and instruct and admonish one another in wisdom made perfect.
- When Catholics manifest joy to others about their faith and the sacraments they receive.
- When Catholics are not ashamed to manifest aspects of the faith such as the sign of the Cross, grace at meals, religious art and symbols prominently displayed in their home, and, where possible at work.
- When Catholics consider their own testimony so as to be able to articulate what God has done for them when people as them the reason for their faith.
- When Catholics are known by others to refrain from gossip, sensuality, vanity and worldliness.
- When Catholics are known for their love and respect for others and for their integrity.
- When Catholics speak the truth in love and confidence and do not make easy compromises with the world.
- When Catholics are known to be kind and gentle, yet clear about moral issues.
- When Catholics are known to live devoutly, temperately and modestly.
- When Catholics are generous to the poor and the needy.
- When Catholics are serene and hopeful, yet zealous for God.
And, Oh, did I mention joy? Mother Teresa says Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. St Paul says, Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all. The Lord is near. (Phil 4:4-5)
There is nothing that gives more evidence of God in us to others than joy. Not a silly, running around, telling jokes kind of joy. But rather, a serene, confident and stable joy that the world did not give and the world cannot take away.
It is a joy that only God, and knowing God, can give. It is a joy that can mourn for this sinful world, but never lose its joy in the kingdom. It is a joy that manifests to others as enthusiasm and zeal for God and his truth. It is joy, God’s great joy. And it is the great net of evangelization.
There is probably nothing worse than a sour faced saint who looks like he just sucked a lemon, grouchy, anxious and unhappy.
And though these times are tough, remember, the Church is a bride, not a widow. The Kingdom of God is a wedding feast, not a funeral. Christ has conquered, and so we speak the truth to an increasingly unwilling world with joy and confidence, willing to suffer for it, yet never losing our joy.
So, we don’t have to wait for the parish evangelization committee to go up a high mountain, or to a far distant land, and bring back the plan. We can begin now. And if you can’t do all the things above, do one.
Please add to the list.
Photo Credit: Kidsclub.org