Who Will Be a Witness For My Lord? Evangelization’s Essential Element

The video below is an excellent production. And, although I want to raise a concern about something in it I would like to begin by saying what is excellent about it.

It clearly shows forth the richness of Catholic Parish Life at St. Mary Magdalene Church in San Antonio, TX. Brief interviews with parishioners and clergy are interspersed with colorful and lively video of parish life. The parish looks like a good blend between the old and new. Charismatic prayer and modern expressions of liturgy are evident but so are Eucharistic processions and images of Mary. The Masses look well attended and the offerings of the parish, which includes a school, are rich.

The Pastor makes a wonderful comment about sacred worship. He simply reminds us that we don’t don’t go to church merely for our own needs, but first and foremost to praise and worship God. Amen Father!

Another of the Priests uses a wonderful analogy of the Church as a hospital and teaches that, if we’re honest we will admit that we all need healing. We all have a fallen nature in a fallen world governed by a fallen angel, We need a savior! Excellent point.

The Parish is to be commended for this excellent outreach. It looks like the clergy and staff have a heart for evangelization. Too many Catholic parishes relegate evangelization to a committee or to “Father”  and the plan is little better than opening the Church doors on Sunday and hoping people come. It looks like St. Mary Magdalene Parish has pushed beyond that and is reaching out to others as witnesses for the Lord.

But one point that occurs to me that would have really made this video “perfectissimo!”  You see, through the video I kept waiting to hear something. And as the minutes ticked by the tension began to build. Would it be said? Would I hear uttered what must be said for this to be perfect evangelization? Would the sine qua non, the raisson d’etre, the essential element come forth in a dynamic conclusion?! Uh oh! Say it quick there are only twenty seconds remaining! Oh no, the clock just hit zero. Oops, We’re done here.

Perhaps I am being too picky and I know I could not have done such a good video. But I want to tell you with some reservation in an otherwise very  good evangelization video that the name of Jesus was never mentioned. Now mind you, we surely saw him in the video: in the stained glass window, at the elevation in the Mass scene, in the Monstrance, the Cross  at the end but his name was never spoken. One of the priests speaks of our savior, a parishioner mentions the Lord. God the Holy Spirit is named. Mother Mary is also named. Ah, but “Jesus,”  there’s just something about that Name! And when we evangelize it seems to me that we cannot fail to connect the dots for people and be very explicit about whom we speak.

It has been my experience that today we cannot presume people outside the Church  have any idea what we are talking about. They may not understand that a monstrance, the host held aloft, even a crucifix are about Jesus. We just have to say it plain: “We are a people being saved by Jesus Christ, who alone can save us and whom we worship as Lord.  Jesus is changing our lives!”

This is NOT a problem particular to this parish or this video. The fact is that most of us Catholics are just getting used to testifying and witnessing to the world. And to those who are outside the Catholic world that is so familiar to us, we have to be crystal clear that we love and worship the Lord Jesus Christ. A lot of people don’t think we really do. They think we’re about statues, and Mary, and strange rituals. Some don’t even know THAT  much about us! But the fact is we have loved and worshipped the Lord Jesus for a long time, he’s leading us back to the heart of the Father and constantly sending us his Holy Spirit. He’s healing us with the medicine of his sacraments and ministering to us in every liturgical service. Jesus is our Priest and our King and his every word is precious to us. Thank you Lord Jesus!  We have to be so clear about this. We Catholics have been too used to being implicit in our witness. As we learn to go forth, we need to be explicit too. The name of Jesus should frequently pass our lips. And I am sure it does in St. Mary Magdalene Parish, but the final editors of this video haven’t let that sound forth.

OK, so enjoy this video. If you have a critque to offer I might enourage you to say what you like as well.   I am happy that St. Mary Magdalene Parish is stepping out. We all need to imitate their example and get out there and enthusiastically talk about the Lord Jesus and the glory of life in His Church. In my own parish I am preparing the congregation for a Sept 2010 outreach to the neighborhood and a reach back into our families. If a parish doesn’t evangelize I wonder if it deserves to exist? I can’t afford to gamble with that question. Jesus told us to go out and make disciples of all nations and as for me and my parish, we will obey the Lord. How about yours? Who will be a witness for my Lord?!

4 Replies to “Who Will Be a Witness For My Lord? Evangelization’s Essential Element”

  1. I’m with you Msgr Pope. Charge on. If Jesus goes with us, we’ll go! Evangelization – it’s all about “Jesus”, it’s not about us.

  2. You’re certainly right Msgr – we have to mention Jesus by name; and be clear that He alone is the path to our salvation. I do believe that Catholics are right to venerate Mary and the saints; at times, though, we do make it easy for others, especially non-Catholic Christians, to make erroneous assumptions about our faith. We should call out to Jesus by name; not only in our silent prayers – but out loud!

  3. Personally, I prefer St. Francis of Assisi’s approach to evangelization: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

  4. Catholics always acknowledge our Savior, Jesus Christ. Perhaps it was not said on this particular video, but we have no personal knowledge about whether editing accidently excluded it. It was a great video. We are the Children of God and we should inspire the people around us to follow Him and believe in Him with our whole hearts. The community that was portrayed in this video did just that! We, as Catholics, along with other denominations, do venerate our Mother Mary and all of the Saints in Heaven, but the emphasize on Jesus is profound! Jesus, with His infinite love, we ADORE him passionately and without end. I pray this video receives only kind and positive comments and feedback, as we are all loved by our Father God and this video was made in His name and the name of Jesus Christ 🙂

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