In his pastoral letter to the faithful of the archdiocese, Cardinal Seán called us to live in Christ’s spirit and carry out his work in our daily lives. In 2011, Cardinal Seán wrote a pastoral letter on evangelization entitled, “A New Pentecost: Inviting All To Follow Jesus.” While written […]
Why do Catholics find evangelization so difficult? There are a number of reasons:
- The mistaken belief that Vatican II taught evangelization should be replaced by “dialogue” (the truth is that dialogue is supposed to be an early step of evangelization).
- The mistaken belief that evangelization is a “Protestant” thing.
- Being uncomfortable with models of evangelization they observe by various religious groups (e.g. shouting fire and brimstone at passersby on street corners).
- Influence by the culture making us uncomfortable “forcing our beliefs on others.”
But the truth is, evangelization is a vital part of the Christian life.
The primary instruction given to us by Jesus is to evangelize. “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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) As disciples of Christ in this day and age, we need to be very aware of how to be evangelizers and take whatever opportunities come our way. “There are three ways to evangelize,” Cardinal Seán writes. “We witness, which is the simple living of our faith through our good actions and virtuous deeds. We share our faith in an explicit way, typically by describing how God is working in our lives. We invite others to experience Christ’s saving love by walking with us in our Catholic Church.”
Evangelization is not optional.
So how can we get better at it? The first step is to trust more fully in the Holy Spirit. Yes, there are natural skills and inclinations toward evangelization that some people have more of than others. But we all have access to the Holy Spirit. This is actually the point of the Sacrament of Confirmation. The Holy Spirit equips our efforts with His Gifts, but He also gives us the passion and courage we often feel we’re missing.
The early Christians were conscious of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit as the source of their holiness, gifts of grace, and apostolic zeal. We can evangelize because the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon us just as it was on the first disciples. Therefore, let us put aside our fears and hesitations and as Cardinal Sean urges, let us “pray to the Holy Spirit this Pentecost and ask for the wisdom to understand the particular gifts God has given you for building up the Church. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to recognize those people for whom God would like you to be the face of his Church.”
Cardinal Sean gives us important encouragement to step into the role we have been Baptized and Confirmed into. Let’s make it a point to call upon the Holy Spirit to embolden us and empower us to evangelize. Let’s ask him to bring us back to our passion for Jesus that makes sharing Him with others natural and enjoyable.
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Also published on Medium.