Taking inspiration from St. Joseph’s, New Malden’s web page, I agree with the importance of our Witness as Christians and our commitment as Baptised, involved lay faithful. It’s all about commitment , being committed to our journey as disciples of the Lord and remaining committed to the tenets of the Faith.
In the first few centuries of the Church’s existence, evangelisation was crucial to its survival. Living in a pagan culture Christians had to live their Faith in a very intentional way. To admit one was a Christian,was to risk persecution, so Church members had to be passionate about their commitment. Then, in the fourth century, Emperor Constantine made Christianity the religion of the Holy Roman Empire. Suddenly, being a Christian became not just accepted, but fashionable.
Today, our experience as Christians is not far from those who lived so long ago in a pagan world. Today, being Christian means you ‘re a bit ‘otherwise’ to put it politely.Today we need to be living our Faith in a very intentional way. Today we have to know the reasons for believing and wanting to be Christian if we are to stand a remote chance of survival amongst secular free-thinkers.This is most especially true if we profess to be Catholic Christians.
It wasn’t until the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s that Pope Paul VI began to call for a “new evangelisation” — and not just by clergy and religious, but by all Catholics. Blessed John Paul II said that to evangelize, you have to be evangelised; that evangelisation is an encounter with the ‘living Spirit;’ that sharing faith has got to become normal, a natural part of life.
If someone says they like to connect with nature and the spiritual by walking along the beach, most Catholics today would probably say, “Good for you,” but would not go a step further and share how their own faith helps them connect with God. People are reluctant to push their beliefs on other people. We have to be convinced there’s something worth sharing. Many ‘catholics’ don’t really know their Faith at all, and other than just admitting to being ‘catholic’do not attend Mass or receive the Sacraments.
They have not sought to understand the reasons that lay behind our dedicated attendance at Mass every week;our observance of prayer and fasting on Fridays; our need to receive Holy Communion or to receive absolution through regular attendance at Reconciliation. If you find yourself to be one of these ‘catholics’, I urge you to find out more about the reasons why we do what we do as Catholic Christians. The answers will open up a new way of thinking about Jesus and His love for you. Enquire about courses at your parish. Attend an RCIA group and learn about your gift of the Faith with new converts. JUST ASK.
The process of becoming a disciple involves three components: proclamation, conversion, and service and mission. I believe that resistance by Catholics to evangelise is because the front-end piece of evangelisation deals with conversion: making Jesus Lord of our life. It calls for a radical change if we’re going to embrace this mission. Catholics do tend to be good at teaching prayers to children, making sure they’re educated in the faith and — simply living their lives, so that others may see them as good people and be attracted to what beliefs lead to that lifestyle.However, when it comes to sharing their faith and inviting others to participate in it, Catholics don’t fare as well.
So, in what ways can we show our commitment to sharing the Good News as Catholics? A few suggestions:-
- Mention that you have attended Mass over the week-end over sandwiches at lunchtime on Monday, and go further, sharing something about the readings or the Gospel that opened up a new insight to the Scriptures for you.
- Share anecdotes about your parish priest and his dedication to his flock. How does he show you the love of Jesus through his words and actions?
- Invite ‘resting catholics’ to an early morning Mass, or just any Mass.
- Invite them to come along and visit a group at your parish.
- Share the news about the acts of social care and justice that your parish supports: eg’ St. Joseph’s parish supports the local food bank and our parishioners donated one tonne of food last month alone.’ This might open up new avenues of discussion leading back to our Faith, to understand why we’re helping the poor, what moral values and social teachings lead the Church to be a voice for the voiceless.
- Take an extra parish newsletter to share with someone and leave it with them.
- Share good Catholic literature written by Blessed John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedicte XVI, Scott Hahn. There is an abundance of choice.
- If you are a God-parent, make time to remain in your God-child’s life for the long haul, not just on the day of their Baptism. Find new ways of doing this.
- Create a family shrine at home with the crucifixes, pictures, and statues received at Baptisms and Confirmations. These speak volumes about your Faith and how you live it without having to say a word.
- Start a book club that reads Catholic literature and encourage members to bring a friend.
For inspiration and spiritual uplifting, pop into St. Joseph’s for Mass, or take a look at its vibrant and informative website.
St. Joseph’s New Malden, has embarked on a Year of Renewal in 2014 which builds on the recently ended Year of Faith, and is proposed as a Parish Year of Faith in Action leading into a Year of Re-Dedication (2014-15) and a Year of Mission (2015-16) I’m looking forward to the next three years with anticipation. Want to join me on this promising new journey?