I came across this article in the latest FAITH magazine. It spoke so clearly to me and resounded with my personal sentiments.
(Bold type is my emphasis)
”An Invitation to Evangelise
FAITH Magazine January-February 2013
Not all of us are called to preach publicly, but all of us are called on to play our part in spreading the Gospel – the “Good News” that Jesus Christ is God with us, that he died to reconcile us to the Father, and that he is risen from the dead and has poured out the Holy Spirit on his chosen ones.
There are many ways we can do this and many different words and examples we can use to get this message across to the world around us. First of all, as fellow believers we remind each other of the good news by talking about our faith together, by encouraging each other to grow in knowledge of our faith and by praying together.
Sometimes we may need to explain some point of the Church’s teaching to a fellow Catholic or clear up a misunderstanding. This can happen in casual conversation through ordinary friendships or in a formal setting like a school governors group, and so on. To “counsel the doubtful” is one of the spiritual works of mercy.
I had been bothered of late, by the lack of basic knowledge of the Faith during open discussions with Catholics. The Holy Father in his wisdom certainly understood the need for a Year of Faith. Honestly, when I attended the inauguration of the Year of Faith last year, I was taken aback by the thought (call it naiveté/ lack of awareness , at it’s best) that Catholics need to be evangelised, brought back into the Fold. This was the catalyst that lit the fuse in me to do ‘my bit.’
During prayer groups and casual gatherings, I do not have all the answers, but when someone who is a ‘practising’ Catholic states that,’maybe the devil and God ‘both live in our souls’, I have had to dig deep in order not to blurt out ‘NO OF COURSE NOT!’, and to carefully formulate pertinent questions and statements that could otherwise be misconstrued as critique – in order to change a train of thought an hopefully get the train back on track. I have also noticed that sometimes this kind of speak is tolerated as a ‘person’s right to voice an opinion’. If we do not speak up for about the Faith and what the Church teaches, people are going to think it’s fine to talk gibberish because whatever is said will be accepted as ‘opinion’. The Good News is not a relative issue. It’s factual and true. There is no room for emotion or feelings, and ‘I think… ’
For someone who needs a little time to ponder over things in order to formulate a response, I sometimes feel frustrated at not being able to have a full, quick and pertinent retort on the spot. I do my best knowing that I could’ve probably answered more fully. My middle-aged grey matter is also to blame for this I might add. For this reason I’ve made an inquiry to join a workshop given by Catholic Voices , a group that was formed around the time the Holy Father visited England three years ago. Their website is most definitely worth a visit.)
The article goes on to say…
We may be called on to catechise others in the Church, such as children and young people or adults seeking full communion with Christ. This is both an honour and a duty. We are co-workers of the apostles (bishops and priests) in this work, but as lay Catholics we are all equipped and commissioned to speak for Jesus Christ because of our baptism and confirmation.We should always be alert to situations where a Christian influence can be brought to bear on the world around us. (Like when someone makes casual remarks about the Mass, that may just be off the mark.)
Of course it is best not to do this in a sanctimonious or “churchy” way. But if we have built genuine relationships of trust and respect, and offered honest friendship to those around us, then with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will find the right words to say when the opportunity arises.
It may be a matter of dropping a thought provoking comment into a conversation which helps people to see beyond the secular view. (In order to do this, we need to be up to date with the news around us.) Or it may be that we quietly invite someone to a spiritual event (It might be an invitation to come to Mass, to come back to Sacraments of the Church or to some other Catholic devotion, to talk with a priest or spiritual advisor, to read a book, to listen to a lecture, to assist in some ministry, to pray together or to attend a parish social event) or gathering introducing them to the Catholic community – and ultimately introducing them to Jesus Christ.
There may also be times when we are called on to speak up in public or private situations where misunderstandings or misconceptions about the Catholic faith are being repeated. (It can be a little trickier of course, when the comments are made within a group of strangers,but I think it’s can be even more so within a family setting. This is why I’m leaning toward some professional apologetics teaching, so that I may in future be confidently prepared to answer questions of the day regarding Christianity and the Church.) We may have to bear witness to human moral principles, ( I do believe this to be the most important one of all. Our actions show what we’re all about.We can tell others how the Holy Spirit has worked in our lives. We can also share our faith through actions that demonstrate the ways in which we try to live authentically the Gospel Message.) which are being undermined in politics, writing to the press or lobbying parliament.
We have to use our skills and influence in the world to protect the common good and promote an authentic Christian society.”
I want to be a true disciples of Christ. Evangelisation today is needed more than ever!