I was recently involved in a conversation with fellow Catholics and the topic of evangelization came up. The question came up as an item on a list of how Catholics celebrate being Catholic, and what is the most important aspect of being Catholic, and not just Christian. Of course, the Eucharist and Sacraments are the heart of our Catholic Faith and life, so I was quite relieved when I got no pushback on this. Then of course, the age old topic of evangelization arose, and of course, it should. As Christians, we are all called to evangelize, right? But as I sat and listened to the conversations, of my fellow committed Catholics, I soon realized there seems to be a big disconnect regarding evangelization, and what it actually is.
So many of us seem to think that evangelization includes the convincing of others to accept Christ and His Church. I personally think this is an unrealistic expectation of the cause, and one that Satan is using to hinder us in our efforts. I have never found in any definition of evangelization the requirement to convince others of the Good News and Truth. Even Christ and the apostles were not effective at the task of winning all heart and souls to the Truth, so how did we get here? I think - Pride.
I grew quite concerned when so many began to express their frustration regarding evangelization because extending invitations to Mass and the Sacraments doesn't elicit the anticipation of excitement that a protestant gathering might. Of course, there are times when Mass has dull music and perhaps not the best preaching, but the fact that Jesus is there, physically present body, blood, soul and divinity didn't seem to invoke the awe, majesty of the true and awesome miracle that occurs at every Mass. I mean, really, if you are going to evangelize apologetically because the music and preaching is not the most exciting and neglect that fact that the most exciting event in the history of time happens at every Mass when are Lord and Savior, the Creator of the Universe, presents himself in the flesh, to be offered as a Sacrifice for our eternal salvation, then perhaps the one needing evangelization is the Body of Christ that seems to have no true concept of the miraculousness of Mass. Perhaps those who are seeking to evangelize need to be evangelized!!
If you think about it, Protestant services need the flashy sermons and music, because they DON'T have the Real Presence. It is a horrendous crime that anyone would think and propose that it somehow more enticing. Who is this more enticing too? If one truly understand the marvel of the Mass, there would be nothing keeping us away, if we truly want to encounter our Lord. No music, sermons or even congregations can compete with God Himself, truly and miraculously present in the Eucharist. There is a reason whey Vatican 2 calls the Eucharist the source and summit of the Catholic life.
It really is all in our presentation. If we are not excited about Mass, bad music and all, how are we going to entice anyone to walk with us? And why aren't we excited about Mass? Perhaps those of us claiming the need of education for others, need some educating ourselves.
People will walk away from God, they have since the beginning of time. It is not our job to convince, the job of evangelization is to spread and bring the good news to all we can. There is a sense of urgency about this. Time is running out. None of us are promised tomorrow. Our zeal for the truth and not for some kind of false dichotomy of our Faith experience is the message. We, as Catholics, do not worship an experience - we worship God the Father, through His son Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. That is the message.
As St. Bernadette said, so many years ago, "It is not my job to convince, it is my job to inform." The Holy Spirit does the rest. We really need to set aside our pride, and recognize our minimal role in this whole process. We need to stop fearing those who reject our message, for crying out loud, they rejected the message when Jesus himself brought it. Why would we think we can do better?
Get out there, extend the invitations, in bulk!!! The apostles didn't reach the ends of the earth by pussyfooting around the message, they were bold and clear. Where the message was rejected and ignored, they brushed the dirt off their feet and moved on. There were more places to go and people to see! We need to do the same!