The deepest identity of the Catholic Church is that she exists to evangelize… therein lies a challenge for the Catholics of the world. Where are we on the evangelization continuum? Are we closer to “here I am, Lord, send me”? Or closer to “I don’t even know if I can spell the word — evangelization — let alone know what it means.”
All I know is that for many of us for whom there is no separation between faith and life, our first “coming alive” in Christ occurred because the faith was “caught”, not taught. In other words, the faith of someone else impressed us, and bore a witness to the truth that led us to inquire, or to seek and find, what it was that those folks had. There are many people I know who read their way into the faith, too, as there is a very strong intellectual tradition in the history of the Church. But, for me, even though I’m one of the those so-called “cradle Catholics”, it took the spark from faith-filled Catholics to light the fire within me. And I’m grateful that I had that happen to me when I was a teenager, as I think I was spared a lot heartache along the way.
In my recent column at Patheos, I offer that evangelization is akin to our being a matchstick capable of igniting others. A matchstick does not exist for its own sake… much like the Church does not exist for its own sake… both exist to be catalysts for ignition. Here’s sampling from that column…
…..really, my life, and every Christian life, is a lot like that little matchstick when it comes to evangelizing.
The purpose of each match in the matchbox is to light something other than itself, by sharing its flame — from candelabras, to barbeques, to hearths, to birthday candles on a cake. Similar to the matchstick’s function, it is a short life that we live – a flash, really — in light of eternity. My purpose and the true call of my baptism is to become lit, and consumed as it were, by the light and love of Christ and, in turn, to light another on fire. It is a movement from being evangelized to evangelizing. A tiny flame was once lit from the Pascal candle at my baptism and handed on to me; not only am I joined to Christ, but I am bonded to his Church and its mission.
The mission and life of a Christian should be a microcosm of the mission and life of the Church.
Echoing the evangelistic and missionary themes of Vatican II, Paul VI taught, that evangelization is everybody’s business.
Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize, that is to say, in order to preach and teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace… (Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, December 8, 1975.)
In light of this statement, I’m challenged: is evangelizing a grace and vocation proper to my deepest identity?
Do I exist to evangelize?
Read the rest at Patheos.
As the Church gears up for the Year of Faith, and the Pope gets ready to welcome the world’s bishops to Rome for the Synod on the New Evangelization, ask yourself, is there more you can do to share your faith with others at home and in the world at large? This question keeps coming to my own mind in recent months, and I’ve offered some replies in the form of the articles I’ve written, listed below. But these are just a few ideas. I’d love to hear a few examples down in the combox of how you evangelize… or what moves you to evangelize and share your faith with others?
In recent months, I’ve offered a few columns that I call “primers” or easy “how-to’s” on being a witness to your faith. You might enjoy these…