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What Part in the New Evangelization Are You Playing?

Posted on the 14 November 2014 by Brutallyhonest @Ricksteroni

Printed in our church bulletin this week, some more toe-stepping words from Pope Francis, this taken from Evangelii Gaudium, his Apostolic Exhortation released last year:

“All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients. The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are ‘disciples’ and ‘missionaries’, but rather that we are always ‘missionary disciples’" (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 120).”

I've witnessed the complete dismissal of this Papal call for personal evangelization by people who extol the virtue (and the implied high-mindedness) of not proselytizing, these same people in fact quoting Pope Francis to defend that Oh-nopassivity.

A convenient excuse (and a damnable lie) used to not only justify their silence on faith matters but also a blunt instrument of sorts purposed in ridiculing and even silencing the faithful who are more public about their beliefs.

But that's just me being all judgmental.  Again.

God forgive me.

There are many who equate proselytization, the act of using coercion or force to convert someone to the faith, with evangelism, in which clearly the Pope is saying every Christian has a responsibility to engage.  Equating the two does a couple of things.  1) Absolves one of the responsibility to evangelize and 2) shuts down public expressions of faith.

The former giving aid and comfort to cultural Christians interested more in leveraging claims to being faithful and interested less in the challenges that come with exercizing and living the faith; the latter giving aid and comfort to those who find the publicly religious to be anathema and who would rather they simply shut up or go away.

I'm reminded of how often the following St. Francis of Assisi quote; "Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words" is bandied about as a hammer by those engaged in the spirit of the age, that spirit that suggests strongly that faith matters should be relegated to anything but the public square.  The problem however is that St. Francis never uttered the words.  In fact, history shows that the man's meek and mild persona is a false one.  I've read of an early biographer writing of St. Francis openly rebuking those living a life of sin.  Others write of the man's preaching, clearly using both word and deed to convey the gospel message effectively.

There is of course merit to the idea that the faithful should live lives of virtue and that hypocrisy should be shunned as the faith killer that it is.  But we also need to remind ourselves that we are each sinners, flawed messengers in a flawed world who make mistakes steeped in overzealousness at times but an overzealousness that does not substantively, unless we're listening to that aforementioned spirit of the age, minimize the importance of the message.

The take-away here is simple.

Don't allow yourself to be silenced.  Don't allow the zitgeist to rule the day.

Pray, pray unceasingly, seek out others who are faithful for wisdom, guidance and direction but do speak up about faith.  Let people know what God is doing in your life.  Let others hear you talk about the comfort, and yes, the challenges, a faithful life brings. Choose the venue prudently certainly but do choose.  You may just be the catalyst for someone's life changing experience, one steeped in need and your willingness to meet that need.  You might just be the broken instrument God uses to heal someone's brokenness.

It's so worth the pain, the ridicule, the chastisements and the crap that being vocal will bring.

Trust me.

Carry on.

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