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What Does Evangelization Look Like?

August 3, 2011

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:

  1. When Catholics attend to their own conversion and seek to grow in holiness, wisdom and knowledge of God
  2. When parents spend time praying with their children, reading them bible stories, the lives of the saints and explaining the Catechism.
  3. When parents bring their children to Mass every Sunday without fail and make family prayer a priority.
  4. When parents are seen to pray by their children, seen to go to confession, and seen to be devout and joyful at Mass.
  5. 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.
  6. When spouses pray together and instruct and admonish one another in wisdom made perfect.
  7. When Catholics manifest joy to others about their faith and the sacraments they receive.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. When Catholics are known by others to refrain from gossip, sensuality, vanity and worldliness.
  11. When Catholics are known for their love and respect for others and for their integrity.
  12. When Catholics speak the truth in love and confidence and do not make easy compromises with the world.
  13. When Catholics are known to be kind and gentle, yet clear about moral issues.
  14. When Catholics are known to live devoutly, temperately and modestly.
  15. When Catholics are generous to the poor and the needy.
  16. 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:

This is Discipling from The Foursquare Church on Vimeo.

Comments (0)

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  1. Alan says:

    Thanks for the instruction,,,,,I have a long way to go

  2. Nguyen Thuong Minh says:

    Epistle 217
    My some thoughts about “the homily” of Msgr. Charles Pope are here below:
    Firstly, in the homily, Msgr. Charles Pope talked about evangelization.
    In the homily, Msgr. Charles Pope stressed that evangelization is wide efforts of the Church. But we don’t miss that evangelization also is our daily missions.
    Msgr. Charles Pope enumerated a list of 16 missions on evangelization so that we can do one of them or all them.
    Basically, I agree with Msgr. Charles Pope on the homily.
    Secondly, now permit me to add some matters to relate to the homily hereafter:
    Evangelization is to preach the gospel, and gospel is word of Lord Jesus. Thus, Evangelization is to preach word of Lord Jesus.
    Behold! In four Gospels have word of Lord Jesus and word of four authors of Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), we only preach word of Lord Jesus.
    We also don’t preach deeds of Lord Jesus because we couldn’t do deeds as Lord Jesus did. But we can do as Lord Jesus’ teachings.
    For example, Lord Jesus begins to preach His first word as “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4: 17).
    This first word of Lord is explained by USCCB as “At the beginning of his preaching Jesus takes up the words of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2) although with a different meaning; in his ministry the kingdom of heaven has already begun to be present (Matthew 12:28)”.
    But, in my opinion, the sentence “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” which has two meanings:
    Its first meaning is “Repent because the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
    Its second meaning is “Repent so that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
    As for me, I repent so that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
    In other words, I confess so that my conscience is peaceful.
    I pray so that Lord comes to me because I don’t fear Lord but I love Lord.
    In fact, my Lord came to me because my Lord very loves me./.

  3. Sherry says:

    Your list is a definite “keeper” – to be reviewed periodically. It is so easy to get off track and miss the essence of what our faith is all about and how our behavior affects the way people perceive us as representatives of our faith. In terms of adding to the list, I might add: “When Catholics seek to learn more about their faith to be able to respond to questions from others”.

    Your next to last paragraph about times being tough — but the Church is a bride, not a widow, and the Kingdom of God is a wedding feast, not a funeral — this is really timely. It seems that so much of the news regarding the Church lately is really depressing — but you are right — we can’t lose our joy despite suffering — the cross and the resurrection.

    • Kaylan says:

      I agree with Sherry.. that the list is a keeper and should be reviewed periodically! I also liked the line that the Church is a bride of Christ, not a widow (though at times when we are suffering, it can seem the latter). It is a good reminder and one to contemplate when times are tough.

      I will admit, I’ve always had a problem with the joy aspect. Though I love the Faith and enjoy the fellowship of other Catholics, I find my own spiritual journey a continual struggle to stay on course (and thus reason to be miserable when I should be happy). I’ve always admired Mother Teresa and just assumed she had that natural personality to smile when she was in pain. I can only leave it all in God’s mercy I guess and pray that I will eventually become what God wants me to be. Thanks again for the wonderful article. I’m going to share it with many 🙂

  4. Jeanne says:

    Thank you for attaching the video link. I first saw this at the Catherine of Siena Institute blog…I love Sherry Weddell’s comments about the theme of…. “Making Disciples and Maintenance vs. Mission. It’s not Catholic but it’s perspective is remarkably Catholic – right down to the secularity of lay apostleship.” We have our Sacramental life & Liturgy..but to LOVE, LIBERATE, LEAD & LAUNCH..that’s what it’s all about!

  5. Justin Kolodziej says:

    Father, I like the list. The key is clearly the first thing on it. Without truly repenting, the rest is ineffective.

    I have been the “sour-faced saint” of which you speak…which is to say I was sour faced and by no means a saint except in my own mind, for the two are utterly incompatible. I was only helped by the LORD making me see how wrong I was and how much damage I was doing through having self-righteousness and not His, and the Spirit driving me to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to start the healing process.

    I can wear my crucifix and medals, but if I am then bitter towards the co-worker who has all these questions about work that I am not sure I can answer and I feel is interrupting my own Very Important Project, that is the exact opposite of evangelization, speaking louder than anything anyone else might have to say against Catholicism. Confession is the best remedy for that I know of, not to diminish the Eucharist, but if I am ill-disposed to receive Him then it will not help. Funny how it’s just like Jesus said: “Repent and believe the Gospel”… then the rest follows.

  6. Bob Babecka says:

    Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, Section 6;

    The mission of the Church pertains to the salvation of men, which is to be achieved by belief in Christ and by His grace. There are innumerable opportunities open to the laity for the exercise of their apostolate of evangelization and sanctification. The very testimony of their Christian life and good works done in a supernatural spirit have the power to draw men to belief and to God…However, an apostolate of this kind does not consist only in the witness of one’s way of life; a true apostle looks for opportunities to announce Christ by words addressed either to non-believers with a view to leading them to faith, or to the faithful with a view to instructing, strengthening, and encouraging them to a more fervent life. “For the charity of Christ impels us” (2 Cor. 5:14). The words of the Apostle should echo in all hearts, “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16).(1)

  7. Lee Gilbert says:

    17. When Catholics completely eliminate the forces of de-evangelization from their homes, especially television, but also the secular press. Parents carefully monitoring what their children watch -as you suggest in #5 -necessarily involves parents in censoriousness that only makes children, especially older children, very resentful and rebelliousness. “Don’t watch this, don’t watch that.” It’s maddening. The ONE decision to throw the set out immediately removes that bone of contention from family life.

    Secondly, the idea that parents even have a complete grasp on what is happening in front of their very eyes on the television is probably something that causes knee slapping hilarity in hell. Children, especially older children, are “with it.” Secular producers, directors and advertisers are “with it.” Parents don’t have time to be “with it.” As a result the television advertisers and producers can talk over the heads of parents to the children. Thirdly, there are plenty of times when the children are home and the parents are not, and at those times the children will watch whatever they like and be de-evangelized and corrupted.

    From the standpoint of evangelizing the children and keeping oneself holy as a parent, there is absolutely NOTHING to be lost by throwing the TV out. It creates space and atmosphere for prayer, for study, for family times together- reading the lives of the saints and good secular literature out loud to one another, playing board games, taking walls together or a ride in the country, etc. It removes an enormous temptation to sensuality, materialism, and time wasting together with many provocations to worry. What else is the evening news but institutionalized worry?

    How in the face of the interior din that the mass media sets up is a young man or woman able to hear a vocation to the priesthood or relgiious life- or to marriage, for that matter?

    In fact, from the Catholic standpoint, the arguments for ridding the Catholic home of this beast are absolutely overwhelming. The establishment of television in the Catholic home corresponds almost exactly with the onset of the vocations crisis. Talk with any of the many African, Indian, Sri Lankan, and Vietnamese priests now so prevalent in in our parishes and ask them what part television played in their upbringing. I will tell you the answer, for I have asked them. There was no TV in their homes. We should have been so blessed.

    • Blake Helgoth says:

      Our family gave up TV for lent one year and never brought it back. We kept the set but do not have cable or even a digitall TV. We do have NetFlix and get movies for our family. This cuts out the commercials and gives us much better control over what is watched. I agree that TV is a force of de-evangelization. I have come to realize that what is so dangerous is not what is in the shows and commercials, although that is plenty dangerous, but what is missing. Exposing one’s self to media for a long time that leaves out God, sybols of faith and the life of prayer distorts one’s view of reality. It leaves the impression that God is absent from everyday life. Even if there are shows that do not have immoral content, it is had to find shows that are worthwhile to watch. Just because something is not bad does not, therefor, make it good. The abscense of this media in our home has made for a family that is much more open to the realities of our faith.