Skip to comments.Do not be afraid [of evangelization] Catholic Caucus
Posted on 08/26/2007 4:15:55 PM PDT by Salvation
Carl E. Olson
A few years ago, I was talking with a close relative, a fundamentalist Protestant, about why I became Catholic. Puzzled and not satisfied with my various explanations, he asked, "Did you become Catholic so you could teach Catholics the Gospel?"
The implication seemed to be that since he thought I was still a "true Christian," I must have never really become Catholic, and so my foray into the Church of Rome must be part of a well-intentioned attempt to evangelize the lost souls residing there.
This was both frustrating and amusing to me. Frustrating because he wouldn't take seriously the reasons I gave for coming home to Rome, and amusing because not only is the fullness of the Gospel found in the Catholic Church, it can be argued that the greatest evangelist of the 20th century was a Catholic: Pope John Paul II.
However, in fairness to my relative, many Catholics either do not know the Gospel very well or, if they do, are often reluctant to share it with others.
More than a few Catholics might be surprised to know that Pope John Paul, in his wonderful apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici (On the Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful), wrote that "the entire mission of the Church, then, is concentrated and manifested in evangelization," and, "The lay faithful, precisely because they are members of the Church, have the vocation and mission of proclaiming the Gospel" (No. 33).The sacraments prepare us.
One of the sad ironies of the past 40 years is that the Second Vatican Council emphasized the importance of evangelization by the laity, but has often been ignored or simply not explained.
There is a certain historical precedence for this evangelistic apathy, and it forms the background to many of the writings of the prophets, including Isaiah, from which comes today's first reading. "I come to gather nations of every language," God declares, a statement that has deep roots in the Pentateuch, especially in the narratives and pronouncements dealing with the covenants with Abraham and Moses.
Throughout the Old Testament, God proclaimed that Israel was meant to be the first among many nations, like a firstborn son. And one of Israel's great responsibilities was to proclaim the truth about God to other peoples. In the words of the psalmist, sung today: "Go out to all the world and tell the Good News." Yet, Israel often failed to tell other nations the Good News.
The parallels to Church history and to our own times are easily seen. On one hand, this isn't surprising considering that human nature has not changed since the time of Moses and the prophets. But we do have the benefit of hindsight, of being able to see the patterns of human nature and to examine ourselves in the light of history and, more importantly, in the light of the Word of God.
The importance of evangelization cannot be overemphasized because the love of God for the souls of every man, woman and child cannot be overstated. As the Gospel reading makes so evident, the stakes are very high. "Strive to enter though the narrow gate," Jesus taught, "for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough."
Each person will make his or her own decision for or against Christ. But those who fail to proclaim Christ -- in word and deed -- when the opportunity presents itself also make a serious decision. The Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes (The Church in the Modern World) warned: "The Christian who neglects his temporal duties ... jeopardizes his eternal salvation" (No. 43). So, don't be afraid to declare the Good News -- even among fellow Catholics.
Carl E. Olson is editor of IgnatiusInsight.com.
**One of the sad ironies of the past 40 years is that the Second Vatican Council emphasized the importance of evangelization by the laity, but has often been ignored or simply not explained.**
Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Catholic Discussion Ping List.
For me personally Augustine, Aquinas, and Dante and the increasingly obvious silliness of my prior outfit (thus I seek to avoid loss of Caucus status) were all the evangelization I needed.
Sorry, I just can’t get past my 1950s and 1960s education. We were exhorted to convert by our examples and not by our words. IMO, it is just rude to try to argue or preach someone into believing what I believe.
I finished this book two weeks ago and it should be required reading for everyone in the Catholic Caucus (actually, on the Religion board, but this is stated as Catholic Caucus). It is an amazing book and puts apologetics into perspective in a huge way. I was profoundly influenced by it and hope to use what I learned and not to commit the sins it outlines. And, I might add, they are really sins! I would start by stating that we have a lot of prayer and homework to do...
How Not To Share Your Faith
The Seven Deadly Sins of Catholic Apologetics and Evangelization
Author: Mark Brumley
How Not To Share Your Faith
H x W x D: 8” (20.3 cm) x 5 1/4” (13.3 cm) x 0 1/4” (0.63 cm)
Manufacturer: Catholic Answers
Catholic apologetics is back. It’s everywhere. As a professional apologist, Mark Brumley sees this renaissance as an immensely good thing-an essential part of the Church’s evangelical mission. Even so, grave dangers attend the apologetics renaissance. Some of them are so serious that, left unaddressed, they threaten to undermine the good apologetics can accomplish. Brumley calls these dangers the Seven Deadly Sins of Catholic Apologetics and Evangelization. Like the seven deadly sins of the moral life, they are “deadly” not merely as isolated, individual acts but as vices or evil habits-habitual tendencies to act in a certain way. In this volume, Brumley exposes them for you.
“In writing about the seven deadly sins of apologetics, Brumley is not rejecting apologetics but rather defending it from itself. He shows how an apologetics that seeks to prove too much can undermine the very faith it is intended to support. He also shows how an apologetics that builds on reason alone, instead of deferring to the word of God, can impoverish the faith of Christians, as did liberal Protestantism.
“There is no need for me to summarize the contents of this brief, lively, and eminently readable book. At a moment when apologetics is gaining new vitality in English-speaking Catholicism, Brumley’s book could serve as a valuable handbook for all of the new apologists. It could save them from the vocational hazards that are almost inseparable from their calling.”
-Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Professor of Religion and Society, Fordham University
“Our mission is to advance God’s work of redeeming and sanctifying the world, to bring all people to salvation in Jesus Christ. The value of Mark Brumley’s book is that he helps us see that. He also gives us the tools to act on it. He is articulate, persuasive, balanced, and sensible, and the spirit he brings to this marvelously readable, useful work demonstrates Catholic apologetics at its best: zeal for the truth, informed by patience, respect and love. I can offer no higher praise.
-Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Denver
“This book should be required reading for all amateur and professional Catholic apologists. It is genuinely useful and totally trustworthy, faithful both to the Catholic faith and to human reason and good sense, for it has obviously been tested under ‘battlefield conditions’ and verified.”
-Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy, Boston College
Raised without a specific faith or religious exposure, Mark Brumley began a long spiritual journey that led him through several Protestant denominations to arrive finally at the Catholic Church in 1980. Since then he has taught and lectured about the faith in a wide range of forums, including as an adjunct professor for the Institute for Pastoral Theology of Ave Maria University. He is an editor at Ignatius Press, and serves as general editor of the Ignatius Catholic Encyclopedia of Apologetics. He lives with his wife, Debbie, and their five children in Napa, California.
**How Not To Share Your Faith**
Obviously, it's rude (and counterproductive) to spring on some unsuspecting non-Catholic who was just minding his own business with an assault of apologetics! But religion does sometimes come up in conversation. Sometimes people even ask voluntarily why Catholics believe something or what Catholics believe -- or spontaneously offer a totally wrong explanation of Catholic belief. In those circumstances, you gotta come up with something!
Evangelization is not about being rude or trying to convince someone.
Evangelization is first about learning about your faith yourself. There is a lot of learning/study/scripture/catechesis that goes on in this step. (Maybe this is where you are.)
Seond, evangelization is about talking with your family and close friends about your faith. Not trying to argue or preach, but when asked a question, answering it honestly. If you don’t know the answer — then tell them that and say that you will find out. Then get back to them with the answer.
Third, evangelization is about talking to the people in your community — like you do here on Free Republic. When I am out and about in the store and buying things, people ask me, what on earth are you getting ALL this for? Then I tell them it is for our Faith Formation 101 at St. Edward, and I explain that it is an evening where the Catholic faith is discussed with a priest or deacon as leader. Then I invite them to come. Then I drop it.
It all is powered by the Holy Spirit — so pray for that guidance and the words will come. I am amazed sometimes at the words that come out of my mouth in answers to questions!! And I also pray for the Holy Spirit to tell me when to SHUT my mouth!!
Know that where you are personally is OK. Some people are at my level. Some people are logical like some other posters on FR. Some are just learning. It’s OK. Just keep striving to learn — (Narrow Gate!!) LOL!
By the way, you are striving to learn or else you wouldn’t be here posting on this thread or even on the Religion Forum. Congratulations and may God continui to bless you.
You have one of those keys on what to do! Go for it.
You could have referred to today's Gospel reading and asked him why he was a Protestant.
**You could have referred to today’s Gospel reading and asked him why he was a Protestant.**
I think there are many Catholics on FR who could do a great job of evangelizing. They just don’t realize it!
But since they won't let us do it like that -- some people have NO sense of fun, you ever notice that? -- I'm more interested in addressing misperceptions than in arguing or preaching in general. I like the advice to always be ready explain who and what it is you hope in and for.
One person posted on FR that he often went to Catholic Masses and no one has ever evangelized him? I wondered why he thinks any Catholic would assume he NEEDS to be evangelized, He's in a Catholic Mass and he doesn't have a sign that says "I'm not Catholic. I think that comes from the Catholics not missing Mass even when they are on vacation and we're used to having a lot of unknown people at our place of worship.
I believe I can make more of a difference by example too.
One wonders how this can be given the fact that they hear the Gospel proclaimed each Sunday along with a homily that explains it.
Sorry, all, but I can only be here from time to time now. I am pretty busy at work.
The sins are not necessarily “deadly” in the narrow sense but can be. They include:
1- apologetical gluttony
2-reducing the Faith to apologetics and apologetics to arguments (mea culpa)
3-confusing the Faith with our arguments for it (mea culpa)
4-contentiousness (mea maxima culpa)
5-friendly fire (mea culpa)
6-trying to “win” (mea maxima culpa)
7-pride (mea maxima culpa)
I suggest you read this book. There are many on this board who are exemplary apologists and I have watched them in admiration for a long time. There may be some like me who got the smell of blood and just wanted to “win.”
My confessor recommended this book in and indirect manner. He is right; it is eye-opening.
We are Christians, FRiends. It is sad to see people fighting who do believe in Jesus Christ when there are many who are atheists or agnostics who could care less and are in grave peril for their souls. If we collectively had discussions for them, who knows what harvest the Spirit would yield.
The crux of this book is simple. If you want to be an apologist, realize that GOD, the Holy Spirit, does ALL the heavy lifting but expects us to do the work. The list of books recommended by the author for a serious apologist was really daunting! And I am speaking about many books that people such as my old pal “Dawg” has read and continues to read. They are not just theology books; they are books on the Protestant faith and its theology and encyclicals and books by the saints.
It is just a suggestion, but it would raise the level of apologetics discourse a great deal. In one manner, it would do so by teaching us to avoid many of the “baits” that are left to bring out the worst in us and by recognizing true friends who get whacked in friendly fire! The baits are not necessarily by people; Satan uses any means he can.
...he doesn’t have a sign that says “I’m not Catholic.
First, some in the Church are trying to have us do that sing of peace nonsense and holding hands during the Our Father. Now, they want me to go around asking people if they’re saved. Sorry, not happenin’.
Yes, good plan.
In those circumstances, you gotta come up with something!
Oh, I totally agree, my FRiend. God bless.
You are correct, of course, Salvation. Thank you for reminding me to be open to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes, I just feel so grumpy and resentful because of all of the changes that have occurred in the church. I truly miss (to the point of tears right now) the Church of my childhood and youth.
Thank you for your kind words and your blessings.
Perhaps they need to hang out on FR for a week or frequent this website:
I think Frank is saying — “Read the book!”
I can see that we still need to read this book! LOL!
**Sometimes, I just feel so grumpy and resentful because of all of the changes that have occurred in the church. I truly miss (to the point of tears right now) the Church of my childhood and youth.**
Is there going to be an Extraordinary Rite Tridentine Latin Mass in your area? It will take you back to your roots!
Frank, you once posted a link that pointed out where the TLM was going to be available, but I did not save the link. Could you help out Bigg Red here in locating a TLM close to him? Thanks in advance, buddy.
PS. I promise to save the site this time. LOl!
My answer to almost all of them would have to be "mea maxima culpa"
You and me both! I think all this talk and hope (and dashed hopes) about the motu proprio is really stirring up the memories for me!
Of your point of reference, but worth posting!
**”mea maxima culpa”**
It’s coming — even in English:
through my fault,
through my fault,
through my most grievous fault.
Every other language (except English) has it!
Is the Gloria going back to its full form? I hate that truncated version!
Once again thank you for the link...
See the link for TLM Masses here:
Now it's not like we can carry on any lengthy 'religious' conversations in that fishbowl where we work. So I gave great thought to his question and tried to figure out the most down to earth and simplistic approach, short of handing him the CCC. I decided to keep it simple. I gave him the following graphic:
followed by the Nicene Creed (upon which the CCC is written). In the office, he has witnessed my 'christian' behavior and pretty much figured out that I am the only one who has shown him 'christian' respect. Not sure where this is going but I plan to watch The Journey Home tonight (So. Baptist convert) and order this book.
Here is a link to the program.
Whenever I see the words "new people for parish leadership", red flags go up and so do my shackles. Good luck!
Where in FL are you? I know two outstanding Maronite Catholic parishes down there that are rapidly filling up with Roman Catholics. One of the pastors told me that he often sees them crying during the Mass. I just kept shaking my head in understanding; I did that for an entire year. Tears of utter joy!
...stirring up the memories for me!
I think you have a great point there.
Indeed. But, first they (we) must understand our unique faith. You certainly do your part to bring it to light.
Corresponding on religious topics on Free Republic has taught me two things:
1) There are many people who have serous misconceptions about Catholicism.
2) There are many devout Catholics willing to share their faith. And, there is a real need not to remain silent.
Let's make that three things:
3) There's a tremendous amount to be learned from 2,000 years of applied Christianity. (Personally, I've just scratched the surface.)
Thanks for the info. Closest one to me is 1 1/2 hours away, unfortunately. But I will try to get there.
I had previously seen the website and also saw red flags going up. However, I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt and was hoping that others have had first hand experience with the program to provide input before I raised objections. The website is vague and does not give specifics as to what is in store. There seems to have been a few diocese where this was put in place and hopefully they could provide insight. I have been attending the Cathedral since 1969 and am reluctant to change. It gets harder with the passing years, but I hope change does come.
**I’ve just scratched the surface.)**
I think we are all just scrating the surface. I know for me that is true.