10 Practical Strategies of Evangelization - Bp Robert Barron

posted Oct 16, 2018, 10:38 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 16, 2018, 10:39 AM ]
Proclaiming the Good News has to do with announcing the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, declaring that Jesus is divine, celebrating the deep humanism of Christianity, and finally, insisting on the indispensability of the Church as the mystical body of the Lord. In this article, I would like to reflect on simple practical strategies for evangelization.

First, deepen your knowledge of the Catholic tradition. A recent survey showed that, among the various religious groups, young Jews have the weakest sense of their own religious heritage, but second only to the Jews in this dubious distinction were young Catholics. This is nothing short of tragic. We have an extremely smart, rich and profound tradition, including the incomparable Scriptures, treasures of theology, spirituality, art, architecture, literature, and the inspiring witness of the saints. To know this tradition is to enter into a densely textured and illuminating world of meaning; not to know it deprives one of spiritual joy, and perhaps even more regrettably, renders one incapable of explaining the Catholic faith to those who seek to understand it better. Most Catholics stopped their formal religious education in eighth grade, or perhaps in senior year of high school.

No wonder we are relatively poor evangelists. So resolve this year to read a good and serious book of theology, perhaps a classic such as St Augustine's Confessions or Thomas Merton's Seven Story Mountain. Make an effort this year to delve into a great Catholic literary master such as Dante, G.K. Chesterton or Flannery O'Connor. Or study the paintings of Caravaggio and Michelangelo, and the sculptures and architecture of Bernini. Enter into the prayerful reading of the Bible.

Second, invite someone you know to come back to church. Evangelization can focus on the conversion of the nations, or on the Catholicising of Protestant Christians, but it can also focus much more narrowly on the re-activising of inactive Catholics. Everyone reading these words knows someone—a friend, a co-worker, a family member, perhaps even a godson or goddaughter—who has stopped attending Mass or availing himself of the Sacraments. Resolve in the next year to send that person a note, give him or her a phone call, sit down for a good conversation—and urge him or her to come home to church. This overture might cost you; it might prove a bit uncomfortable or embarrassing. Evangelization is always a risk. For the sake of that person's spiritual health, take it.

Third, let the language of the faith be naturally on your lips. Many of us Catholics—consciously or unconsciously—censor our own speech against anything smacking of our religious convictions. We learn early on the etiquette of a pluralist society; it is not polite to talk in public settings about politics, or especially religion. To be sure, we should never be aggressive or overbearing in regard to our faith, but we should never acquiesce to social conventions that require a privatization of our religion.