During the Christmas holidays when our son Sean was visiting from the Bay Area, I received a hand-written letter inviting me to learn about the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
As each of my family members read it in turn, our neighbor’s heartfelt words prompted me to contemplate the concept of evangelization – and the ways we each are called to witness to others about our Catholic faith.
For many Catholics, including me, the very idea of evangelization is intimidating, even frightening. We grew up in a Church that encouraged us to pray quietly and unobtrusively, and it wasn’t until Vatican II that we acknowledged each other with handshakes and hugs at the Sign of Peace during Mass.
But evangelizing our faith is uncomfortable only if we look at evangelizing only as speaking to strangers at length about Jesus.
In fact, if we believe that Jesus always meets us where we are, and walks with us every step of our lives, then we know He will inspire and empower us to spread His Word in ways personalized to us as individuals.
And while some Catholics feel comfortable sharing Jesus Christ with a stranger sitting next to them on a plane or park bench, not all of us are meant to witness our faith in this way.
Dr. Scott Hahn, world-renowned author, speaker, and theologian declares that every one of us can evangelize by sharing our deep friendship with Jesus Christ with those closest to us and then with an ever-widening circle of family, friends, and acquaintances. In “Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization” (Amazon, $10.89 hardcover), published in 2014, Hahn says, “You can’t keep the faith unless you give it away.”
The Jehovah’s Witness letter was the catalyst for my vow to make 2021 the year I fully embrace my Catholic faith. I’ve promised myself and God to:
- Cultivate a daily practice of prayer and contemplation.
- Determine a plan of attendance (virtual or in person) at Mass.
- Execute concrete and consistent ways of serving those in need.
- Evangelize my Catholicism in the ways most fitting for my charism and personality.
Last year I was honored to participate in a daylong workshop, Called & Gifted, a three-step program offered by the Colorado Springs-based St. Catherine of Siena Institute that employs a specialized process to discern the presence of charisms in their lives.
Charisms, or spiritual gifts, are special abilities given to all Christians by the Holy Spirit to represent Christ and to be a channel of God’s goodness for people.
Unsurprisingly the process identified writing as my charism. Writing is the way I best communicate what’s in my heart; it is fitting that writing is the means through which I can most effectively evangelize my Catholic faith.
We are called to live the New Evangelism by sharing the Good News in consistent and comprehensive ways. For some of us, that means witnessing one-on-one or speaking to groups. For others, evangelization is behind-the-scenes parish service.
My evangelization is best accomplished through writing – whether it is in Orange County Catholic, online journals, or other publications. What’s certain is that I will employ my writing to spread God’s love in ways uniquely suited to my charism and personality.
Editor’s Note: The Diocese of Orange offers the “Called and Gifted” workshops. For more information: https://www.rcbo.org/resource/called-and-gifted-info/