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Thoughts on Evangelization

  /   Tuesday, March 02, 2010   /   Comments(0)

I now post my final reflection on the retreat that I went on.  Our last group discussion topic was about evangelization.  I decided to say my piece in this one, and I touched on a few different things which I will expand here.  I will be quoting the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Paul VI, named Evangeli Nuntiandi, here, and I highly recommend reading it.

I must admit that I get a bit uneasy when I hear someone emphasize preaching by example.  It’s not that I disagree with the idea, but sometimes I think it is used as an excuse not to talk about Jesus Christ and His Church.  I remember when, as a teenager, I first heard a priest talk about our duty to preach the Gospel.  He went into several examples of preaching by example, identifying them as preaching the Gospel.  My response was somewhere along the lines of “Whew!  I don’t have to talk to anyone about Our Lord!  I can just preach by example.”

Many people are familiar with a quote from St. Francis of Assisi exhorting us to “Preach the Gospel at all times, and, when necessary, use words.”  It is absolutely essential that we preach by example, but I am quite convinced that words are very necessary these days.  Many people, through no fault of their own, have never heard of Our Lord or have heard things that are wrong.  If we preach solely by example, many will not know of what we are being an example.  Pope Paul VI addresses this in articles 41 and 42 (excerpts below):
 . . . it is appropriate first of all to emphasize the following point: for the Church, the first means of evangelization is the witness of an authentically Christian life, given over to God in a communion that nothing should destroy and at the same time given to one’s neighbor with limitless zeal. As we said recently to a group of lay people, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” AND 

Preaching, the verbal proclamation of a message, is indeed always indispensable.

Preaching by example is necessary to show someone a lived experience of the Gospel and to avoid undermining the message, but the need for words is not eliminated.  How does one know what to say?  How does one get the courage to do so?

One thing that I have shared (and need to do more of myself) is to mediate on what we have.  Think about this:

Sadly, some people don’t see the need to evangelize.  I have heard stories of people who inquired about the Catholic Church only to be told that Vatican II eliminated the need to be Catholic.  This is a lie!  Others, perhaps after having tried to bring the Gospel to someone for a time, become complacent and assume that God will save someone because he is a “good person” despite the apparent lack of faith.  This is possible, but I’d hate to depend on it.  Pope Paul VI addresses this in article 82:
It would be useful if every Christian and every evangelizer were to pray about the following thought: men can gain salvation also in other ways, by God’s mercy, even though we do not preach the Gospel to them; but as for us, can we gain salvation if through negligence or fear or shame- what St. Paul called “blushing for the Gospel”- or as a result of false ideas we fail to preach it? For that would be to betray the call of God, who wishes the seed to bear fruit through the voice of the ministers of the Gospel; and it will depend on us whether this grows into trees and produces its full fruit.

In other words, even if someone can be saved because it was of no fault of their own that they did not hear the Gospel, we will have the guilt of failing to evangelize.  Therefore, it is imperative that we do our best to live the Gospel and shine Christ’s light on others.  We want them to know the truth that sets them free!

Category: Spirituality

Giving of Treasure

  /   Sunday, February 28, 2010   /   Comments(0)

Here’s my second post about last weekend’s retreat . . .

An interesting point was made about giving money as a possible substitute for going and doing service to an organization. One of the young adults suggested that she felt that giving money might be a way to “buy my way out” of serving.  She has a point.  Though this is not always the case, it is possible to give money because we’d rather just write a check than go to serve.

One of the center staff had a good response.  She mentioned that she wrote a check to help efforts in Haiti.  She said she’d like to go, but she can’t.  This particular person has a very young child.   However, she mentioned that she would have to work a certain number of days to earn the money that she is giving.  So, she was basically working in that capacity to have the money to give.

I’m adding my own thoughts here since I didn’t get to weigh in on this particular part of the discussion.  One thing to add is that we cannot possibly give time to every worthy cause.  We just do not have time for everything.  We most certainly cannot do so at the expense of the duties of our state of life.  Some of us may have health problems with preclude work in certain areas.

On top of that, organizations have a genuine need for money.  There are only so many things that volunteers can do.  In a homeless shelter, unless the local power company donates electricity, money is needed for the utility bill.  There’s just not a way to volunteer electricity.  Money was needed to buy needed supplies to send to Haiti and the fuel to get there.  For these things, writing a check is very helpful.  Some operations need full-time staff, and they need to be paid in order to have a livelihood.

It takes prayer and discernment to decide where to volunteer time. While we don’t want to give money as an excuse not to serve, it is good to give to causes we wish to support but cannot work with.

Category: Spirituality

Having Time

  /   Wednesday, February 24, 2010   /   Comments(0)

Here is my first note on the retreat. We had a group discussion on stewardship and evangelization, and we spent time on each topic of time, talent, and treasure.  Here I’m going to expand on some comments that I made about time . . .

At one time, I knew that I needed to do a lot of new things in my life.  For longer than I wish to admit, I’d simply decide I wanted to do something, and then I’d keep doing everything I had been doing.  I somehow expected to just magically start doing whatever it was I needed to do, whether it be to read more, join a gym, get out more, etc.  Well, it just doesn’t work that way.  In order to make room for what I needed to do, I had to sacrifice something I was doing.

I had a rather time-consuming hobby.  I’m a big electroholic.  It didn’t even occur to me how much time and money I was spending needlessly.  I decided I had to spend less time shopping and playing with my little toys and spend it on the things I needed to do.  Within months, I found time for that which I needed to do.

Being a good steward of time means evaluating how we are spending our time.  It means making a sacrifice so that we can do something more important.  I am thankful that God finally allowed me to realize this.  It’s even more important now that I am married and will hopefully be a father someday.

Category: Spirituality

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