It’s odd to me that the term “New Evangelization” has yet to catch real fire in the Catholic Church. What I mean is that it has yet to become a common enough term that the vast majority of Catholics not only recognize it but that they also know what it means.
In a nutshell, it carries forth the evangelical mission of the Second Vatican Council, whose purpose was not to modernize the Church to fit the world but rather to evangelize the world to become more like the Church. The main component is to evangelize the evangelizers, meaning to rekindle the fire within Catholic hearts so they in turn may light the fire in the hearts of others.
Here’s the rub: Since the Second Vatican Council, many argue that the Church did not find a renaissance but instead experienced more growing pains. Mass attendance is down worldwide with many Catholics leaving for non-Catholic faiths or worse yet, for the modern philosophies of atheism and relativism. There are other examples of struggle, but there’s little value added in listing them all.
Instead of COEXIST bumper stickers and the like, I offer a short bridge between the secular world and the Catholic Church through three simple maxims which may help to carry out the New Evangelization.
I know there are many of you reading this who feel the same way I do about turning on or reading the news. If you’re like me, your blood pressure rises just a few notches. To blow off steam, many of us turn to blasting out a torrent of social media interactions as if they were our very own Lincoln-Douglas debates.
Well if you’re a Catholic man, fear not because you are in the winter of your discontent. Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle. It’s one thing to express your thoughts and emotions, but to turn them into meaningful action—that is the true art of Catholic manliness.
This means that instead of decrying the laziness of others to get a job, help them get jobs. You can help teach them skills or maybe find job openings for which they qualify. Instead of critiquing the sacrilegious behaviors of some fellow parishioners at Mass, lovingly show them the beauty of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. You’d be surprised at how many Catholics there are who don’t even know about Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist. Of course these are just a few examples, but the point is to be part of the solution instead of merely pointing out the problem.
- “Duty then is the sublimest word in the English language. You should do your duty in all things. You can never do more, you should never wish to do less.” –Gen. Robert E. Lee
The next step is to focus our actions toward a purpose. This particular maxim holds a lot of meaning for me, who while attending four years at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina and now having currently served 13 years in the United States Air Force, the term duty grew beyond mere definition.
As a Catholic man, how often do you realize the words at the end of the Mass? Do you know that when we are dismissed from Mass, we are sent like soldiers on a mission? Our actions must be directed toward the purpose for which we were born anew as Christians, which is to go and make disciples both in word and deed! (Cf. Matthew 28: 19)
We are sent out into the world to evangelize. We must evangelize ourselves, each other, and those who may not know the good news of Christ. This is more than handing out pamphlets and miniature Bibles. Those are printed ink on pages. As Catholics, we know the true meaning of The Word made Flesh. I know it can be intimidating and more often than not uncomfortable. What rescue mission isn’t without risk?
But at the end of the day, it is our duty as Catholics!
- “The measure of who we are is what we do with [Who] we have.” –Vince Lombardi
The next and last simple step after becoming mission focused and duty driven: Be Christ to others and see Christ in others. There are many who enter into evangelization too focused on themselves. They’re driven to win arguments rather than winning souls. If they really stopped to think about it, it’s not their job to do the converting. Conversion happens between the individual’s exercise of free will and the action of the Holy Spirit.
Looking at the maxim provided, we’re prompted to do constant introspection. You might even consider it prayer and examining your conscience. Why? Because the world is consumed with measuring quantity and quality. If you listen, you’ll hear the world constantly pass judgement on all of us. If you don’t look, sound, or act a certain way by the world’s standards, then you’re cast aside.
If you’re a Catholic, there is only one standard—God. We’re called to the measure of holiness, not because we’re holy in and of ourselves but because God gave us His only Son and also sent His Spirit. Can we then hide these Gifts under the bushel basket of our pride? Of course not!
How often we were Christ to others and how often we recognized Christ in others…that’s how we’ll be measured.
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