Recently at our Bible study, our DRE asked how we as a parish could encourage some of the families to be more involved. This led to a lively discussion about how to evangelize.
One of the ladies there lamented that most priests don’t discuss hard moral issues from the pulpit. She argued that watered-down faith leads to the fall of believers and is not compelling enough to attract outsiders. While I agree that we cannot simply disregard hard Church teachings, I prefer a different approach.
The Dating Analogy
I like to think of evangelization like dating. On the first date, you present yourself in a attractive manner. You wear flattering clothes. You don’t talk about your childhood traumas or bad habits. You do your best to be charming and fun, so that your companion thinks a second date would be a good idea.
Then, if the two of you decide that a more committed relationship is a good idea, you gradually reveal the more challenging aspects of yourself. In the sharing of your flaws and weaknesses with someone who is committed to you, it helps strengthen the relationship. On the first date, though, it would likely send them running.
In the same way, hard moral teachings can seem like arbitrary restrictions on personal freedom to someone who doesn’t know and love God. To one who loves God, they are a guide to how to love Him better.
Knowing, loving, and following, in that order
I have been Catholic since I was 3 weeks old. I attended a Catholic elementary school that introduced me to God. I really fell in love with God, though, at the age of 12, after a period of doubt. Since then, I have never found any of God’s laws or the Church’s teachings especially burdensome. Sure, I fall at times, but I know that is because I am the one who needs to change, not God or the Church’s teachings. I love my God, and following Him flows naturally from that love.
Too often, though, I think we in the Church start off with the following part. Absolutely, we must follow God’s narrow path if we are to spend eternity with Him. But the strenuous hike up the narrow path hardly seems worth to someone who doesn’t really know the One it leads to.
So I suppose my approach to evangelization is to follow the order of the “Day by Day” prayer:
Day by day
Oh Dear Lord
Three things I pray:
To know You more clearly,
Love You more dearly,
Follow You more nearly
Day by day.
Copyright 2019 Monica Portogallo