Thank you Allison Gingras (Reconciled To You) and Elizabeth Riordan (Theology Is A Verb) for hosting Worth Revisiting.
Be sure to stop by every Wednesday. You will enjoy your visits.
Here is my contribution this week:
Monday Musings - The New Evangelization Is Not So New
(Originally published on October 18, 2013 in a slightly different version)
The call to evangelize has been an essential part of our Catholic nature and fiber since the time our blessed Lord walked this earth. He told His apostles to “go make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.
He did not then, nor does He now, teach that one Church is as good as another. Jesus has called all of us to be members of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Over the ensuing centuries, we Catholics have frequently failed to heed His command, even in current times mistakenly and tragically acting like this was no longer our mission.
In the early days of Christ’s Church, it was risky business to be Catholic – persecutions, lions, crucifixions, martyrs come to mind. Yet one by one, the early Christians willingly and courageously shed their blood, surrendering their earthly lives for the eternal one promised them by Jesus Christ.
It was their willingness to give up the bogus pearls this world offered for that unseen eternal treasure God promised them that attracted so many to follow their example. It was common for those observing the early Catholics to comment: “See how much they love each other”. Their death evidenced the depth of their love for the God who created, loved and died for them.
Our Lord knew we would never have enough priests to satisfactorily harvest the souls He created. It was His plan from the outset that we lay Catholics, who profess to follow Him, would draw others to Him and to His Church by the manner in which we lived our lives.
How foolish it was, has been and remains that so many of us “Catholics” cling to the mistaken beliefs that it is our priests and religious who have the primary responsibility to evangelize the world, that our faith should be restricted to the confines of our parish Church buildings on Sundays, and that it should neither be evident in nor impact the way we live the rest of our lives.
Not so! By virtue of our baptism, every Catholic has had the duty to evangelize. This obligation did not originate with Vatican II, although that Council did its best to emphasize the essential and long standing (but often ignored) vocation of the laity: “to make the Church present and fruitful in those places and circumstances where it is only through them that she can become the salt of the earth”.
The sad reality is that over the centuries we lay people have failed miserably in doing so.
Just look around. If we who profess to be Catholic even remotely lived our lives in a manner consistent with that which we profess to believe, we, our families, our communities, our parishes, our governments, our world would be far different than we, them and it actually are today. We lost the sense of our salvific mission and reattached ourselves to lies of this world. If we had just mirrored the love of Jesus Christ to all with whom we had contact, how different this earthy sphere would be!
Yes, we lay folk have dropped the ball. Now we are being asked once again to recognize that failure, to pick it up and carry it to the finish line – a time when all will be one under the banner and leadership of Jesus Christ and His Church.
Each of us who profess to be Catholic must do what the Master of the Dominican Order recently charged his Lay Dominican members to do:
Get up! Go out and be Christ to others.
Make an attempt to reach those far from Christ and His Church.
Experience the joy of teaching the Truth – by action and by word.
So where do we begin?
We must be Christ-like, not just in our parishes on Sundays but everyday in our homes, at work, in our professions, at sporting and educational events, in our social and fraternal organizations, in the voting booth, at our city, town, village and county council meetings, in State legislative bodies, in Congress, in local, State and Federal courts. Everywhere! Everyday! - always striving to be Christ-like.
It is time to ask ourselves these questions:
What if total strangers entered our home today (or our workplace, our children’s’ sporting events, our parish, [for my Lay Dominican brothers and sisters] our monthly Chapter meetings, or in any other environment where we Catholics can be found would they say, or would they honestly be able to say:
“Look how much the members of this family, this parish, this office, this Lay Dominican Chapter (etc.) love each other” ?
If not, why not?
If not, what am I (or we) going to do about it?
No more excuses.
Our answers to these questions and our future example will impact not just the salvation of our soul but countless other souls as well.