Before I had a chance to begin writing about how important it is for us Catholic-Christians to step up our evangelization game, moving from maintenance to mission, Billy Graham died. Familiar with him during his lifetime, admittedly, I never had paid him much attention, so it was interesting and encouraging for me to see a common theme run through the many condolences that came forth at his passing. His integrity and evangelical zeal are just two repeated aspects of his life that come to mind; Graham’s life was a testament to living a life centered in Jesus and the Gospel message.
I’m encouraged by this because, for me, it put evangelization in the spotlight right as I was focusing on the same topic, helping me to keep vibrant my own zeal. It put into sharper relief the call we all have to do our part in bringing the Gospel message to the broader society in which we live, work and worship. We all need to evangelize because we all have been commissioned by Jesus to go make disciples of all nations (Mt 28;19): We all are Christ for others. “The absence of God in our culture has not quenched the thirst for God in the human heart,” wrote Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron in his pastoral letter last year. “It has only misdirected it.” We are called to help redirect it. We are all called to be missionary disciples.
To evangelize simply means to lead others to a joyful, transforming encounter with Jesus. While there is certainly the personal, individual response to faith, as Christians, we are not private with our faith. That community nature of who we are means we put forth the Gospel message and live it in the presence of others instead of quietly behind closed doors.
That said, what is it that holds us back from taking an active role in living in a missionary versus maintenance mode? When the Archdiocese of Detroit tackled this question most of the results from their Synod that had met this question head on did not surprise me: fear, a status quo mentality, being overwhelmed by the task, lack of support, and a worldly idea of the Church as more lifestyle enhancer than a radical way of orienting our lives to the teaching of Jesus, stood out in particular.
I bring all this up because I have been more actively reaching out, asking, searching, seeking for ways to be more missionary and I have run headlong into these same objections—sometimes I’m the roadblock, other times it’s those whom I turn to for guidance that create the barriers. But I am a Christian and endurance is what I have breathing fresh life into my soul and I continue to seek ways to evangelize far and wide and more effectively. To that end I have put on my intent to return form my desire to be sent out, and now I’m turning to you—are you willing to join me, guide me, or encourage me? If you are let me know because joined together in Jesus' name we can achieve much. Very much.
I include this link to The Poor Wayfaring Stranger video by the Hillbilly Thomists as it seemed fitting for Lent when we focus more intently on being wayfarers.
And because I often turn to Romano Guardini for whatever topic I have to hand I include this article about Guardini and evangelizing.