“Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.”
I often find it a curious thing that God has entrusted His plan of salvation to the work of human hands. In order to shake-off my bewilderment, I remind myself about my relationship with my children. Why do I ask them to participate in things that I can easily do on my own, like setting the kitchen table or yard work? Because, I remind myself, I understand that it is better for them, not me, to take part in the work that fulfills our lives. I could certainly mow the grass faster by myself, but I allow my son to stand in between the mower and me, his hands clenched around the handle, and push the machine with me. He’s cutting the grass, even if I am the one truly cutting the grass. He becomes a participant in the activities that matter to our family. He has a mission.
Mission is the heartbeat of Catholicism. We’re all supposed to be doing something very specific: telling people about Jesus. This is typically referred to as evangelization. Evangelization can take on various forms, but it is unmistakable that every Catholic is duty-bound to the mission of sharing the unique, saving work of Jesus Christ so that more and more people become Catholic.
In Redemptoris Missio, Pope Saint John Paul II reminds us, “No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.”
Saint Francis Xavier lamented the lack of commitment to this command: “Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason only: there is nobody to make them Christians.”
We make Christians. We save souls. This is our mission.
We are the church of a thousand Saints who travelled to distant, dangerous lands to be surely tortured and killed for the mere hope of converting strangers to Christ. St. John de Beuf, the great Jesuit and North American martyr, said that he would “go to the ends of the earth to baptize a single savage.”
We admittedly don’t live in the same world as the Apostles or medieval Jesuits, but our mission remains exactly the same. The question is how do we effectively perform that mission today? My answer is to go to the sidewalks outside abortion centers.
Item #3 on our to-do list of how men can start to take back the culture one small step at a time:
Evangelize at abortion mills.
The evil of abortion presents a unique evangelistic opportunity for Catholics. Abortion is clearly evil, and it’s happening right out in the open, under the light of day. It is literally a multi-billion dollar industry centered around the killing of children and we know the physical addresses of these businesses as well as the days and hours of when they do their killing. Precisely because of how evil they are, these killing centers provide Catholics with an opportunity to show people the real-world consequences of a life lived apart from Christ.
In a sense, the whole Christian message is being played out on the sidewalks in front of these killing centers: God gives life; man rejects God and chooses death; man is so broken by his sins that only God Himself can save him; men are called by God to go out into the world to proclaim the gospel and save sinners.
Many people feel uncomfortable today standing on a random street corner proclaiming the gospel to strangers, and for most of us, we would be ineffective in that role. But the abortion mill provides the context for why we’re so concerned with others becoming Catholic. Yes, abortion is evil, and that’s one reason we are out there, but a child-killing corporation could only exist in a place that has collectively lost its way. The abortion mill is the backdrop where we can talk to people not just about the evil of abortion, but also the goodness of God.
When we go to the sidewalk here in Providence, Rhode Island, we are not just interested in saving lives, but souls as well. We talk to everyone who walks by on the street. If they’re not walking into the killing center, we still want to talk to them about Jesus, His Church, and each person’s responsibility to know and love the Truth.
In fact, at the Planned Parenthood in Providence, you can see the great Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul from the sidewalk. Planned Parenthood is enclosed in a black metal gate (the gates of hell, if you will) and if you look above the gate, about two hundred yards in the distance, you see a gold Cross atop the magnificent Cathedral. We often tell passerbyers that they are welcome and invited to that beautiful church every day (12:05 PM daily Mass) and that God is present there. One guy hands out tracts on salvation. Another guy hands out Rosaries. And inside Planned Parenthood? Well, they charge $800 to kill 7-19 week old unborn children. Which side of the gate do you want to be on?
This is also a direct way to evangelize your own family. In Because of Our Fathers: Twenty-Three Catholics Tell How Their Fathers Led Them to Christ, several of the contributors were moved as children by their fathers’ commitment to the pro-life cause. It was an issue that opened their minds to the fact that the Church is the true defender of the weak.
Find out if there is a killing center near you and consider going there to live out Jesus’ command to preach the gospel to the world. Equip yourself with pro-life literature and fetal models, but also Catholic handouts — rosaries, prayer cards, local parishes and Mass times, apologetic pamphlets, etc.
You will be the light in front of a very, very dark place. You will be saving lives and souls. You will be living your baptismal call to gather all of God’s children into His one family, the Catholic Church.
To recap, our to-do list for taking back the culture in small, concrete ways looks like this so far:
- 1) Sunday: take your family to Mass, enjoy a special meal, have fun.
- 2) Mortification: implement this discipline for you and your children.
- 3) Evangelize: use abortion mills as the backdrop for sharing the Gospel.
image: Austin, TX-Oct. 2, 2021: Pro-life counter protesters at the Women’s March pro-choice rally at the Capitol support Texas’ abortion law that effectively bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Photo by Vic Hinterlang / Shutterstock