The word "evangelization" evokes images of pushy people knocking on doors and trying to sell their own brand of religion to those around them at any cost. Yet, as Catholics we are called to evangelize, and most shy away from it, I think. I know I have. I'm happy as a clam with my religion, but surely don't want to step on any toes.
Gradually, I've come to realize that we don't have to go far to find people to evangelize. I don't need to knock on doors or push things on unsuspecting strangers. There are people in my own family who could use a little support in their faith. Sometimes it might just be a little encouragement or a conversation. There are so many people who are life-long Catholics who don't know about things like Adoration. (Probably a good bit of my generation, since I don't ever remember hearing about Adoration in 9 years of Catholic school and 3 or 4 years of CCD.) I have a friend who sometimes shows up at daily Mass with me. She will frequently have a question about something that we do in the middle of Mass (like that funny thing we do before the Gospel is read - scratching our head and our lips and our heart). "I'll explain later," I say. Sometimes it is a phone call to a reluctant someone to see if they need a ride to Mass.
One of the churches that I sometimes visit had "Little Black Books" available in their vestibule for $1. I bought a handful of them, and then passed them along to people at work whom I know to be Catholic, but who may or may not attend Mass on a regular basis. Maybe the Holy Spirit will use something there to speak to them. My church offers a couple of wonderful musical programs during Lent and Stations of the Cross on Friday afternoons. I've invited people to both - my way of evangelizing - and they have come. Once again, the Holy Spirit has a job to do. I think it might be less threatening for someone who is not an active church-goer to agree to attending something that is not an all-out Sunday Mass. Something where you just watch or follow along in the book.
In a public school, there is very little in the way of religious conversation that you can have with students. But I try to remember that my actions speak. What I do can give God a "good name" or a "bad name". Kids know when someone treats them with dignity and respect. That might be the closest they get to seeing the Gospel lived out in their daily lives. Some mornings I go to a church across town. It is located right next to a school for kids who have been expelled from their regular schools. A couple of times, I have been spotted entering or leaving the church by students or parents who are dropping off a sibling at the adjacent school. They can put two and two together and know if you are living out Christian values in your daily life... or not.
Evangelizing need not involve stepping on toes or insulting others of God's family.
This Lent, our Diocese is adopting the Catholics Come Home outreach program. There will be commercials on the local networks playing many times during Lent. I have said before that nearly everyone in this area is either a Catholic or a former Catholic. Let us pray that those who have been away from the active practice of their faith feel welcome by our actions and words and consider returning home
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