Trained to evangelize, with social media at their fingertips, modern Catholics might be surprised to discover that the most effective missionaries are still those who humbly carry Christ in their hearts to others. When Catholics actually carry Christ, they are filled with the love and joy of the Lord, which is infectious. These ordinary folk spread the Good News everywhere they go to those who still live in darkness, existing outside the heart of the Church. The Heavenly Father asks such disciples, who are attuned to His voice, to write and speak about their spiritual experiences and to share the truths found in the Church. In this way, modern Catholics are like jet landing strips, or perhaps modems, connecting the presence of the Unseen God in a tangible way to those on earth who are seeking heaven.
“joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.” St. Teresa of Calcutta.
Courses, books, and conferences teach Catholics about evangelization. Well-organized educational programs promise to engage staff, leaders & parishioners to create a vibrant parish and to train them to witness effectively. Catholic Stand is part of St. John Paul II’s New Evangelization which encourages the use of modern social media to reach the curious and those outside the walls of the Catholic Church. Even though these techniques are helpful, the truth is, essays, tweets, and programs do not convert hearts if they are not imbued with the Holy Spirit.
No matter how articulate we are, our best erudite arguments will not reveal the true Presence of God to an unbeliever unless we have listened to God and only say or write what He tells us to. Since Christianity is an experiential faith, a relationship with the Living God, we must help a seeker connect with the Father. No one joins the Church simply because they accept Catholic doctrine or have been convinced by logic. The grace of God leads a soul to discover Christ, repent, open his heart to the love the Father and then guides him into the Church. There is no room for pride; evangelists are simply the earthly tools used by the Heavenly Father; Jesus is the one with the power, not humans:
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me . 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 28:18-21
Go and Make Disciples
One of the basic mandates from Christ Himself is the evangelization of the unbeliever. The Catechism of the Catholic Church repeats this missionary mandate in more detail:
849 “Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be ‘the universal sacrament of salvation,’ the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men.”
A missionary is only effective when they are united to the Body of Christ:
The one sent by the Lord does not speak and act on his own authority, but by virtue of Christ’s authority; not as a member of the community, but speaking to it in the name of Christ. No one can bestow grace on himself; it must be given and offered. . . The ministry in which Christ’s emissaries do and give by God’s grace what they cannot do and give by their own powers. CCC
There are no effective free agents in this evangelization business because only Christ can empower a Catholic to evangelize.
Copyright 2017 Melanie Jean Juneau