There is bad news and good news. The bad news is that what we are doing is not working. I don’t need to drone on about this.
Anyone paying attention understands that church attendance is down, engagement is low, trust is lower, and if we continue to do what we’re doing we should not expect anything to change.
The good news is that we have the Truth on our side. We have what everyone is looking for: Jesus Christ. True happiness, true meaning and true purpose all flowing from Truth itself. That is what Catholicism is grounded in — the truth about who you are and who God is and, ultimately, what you and I ought to do with our lives.
That’s where evangelization comes in. It is what we ought to be doing now that we know what we know.
We have only scratched the surface of bringing God’s message to the masses — not only in mediums of communication but also in the way we approach each other when we bring the message into the world. It’s a radical message, yes; but it is exactly what people are searching for (even if they don’t acknowledge it).
So, if you’ll allow me, I’d like to share two ideas with you.
The first idea is that you are remarkable.
And I believe in you.
Now go make something happen.
You see, God called you up at this moment in history for a specific purpose, as a special force unit to stand firm, to hold the line, against all the hatred, the evil, the darkness, the addiction, depression, loneliness and abuse that evil can conjure up. And that’s the second idea: that, now (right now) it is your turn.
St. Paul had his turn. St. Patrick had his moment in history. St. Therese of Lisieux had her turn. And now you’re up. It’s your turn. Let that sink in for a moment.
Your turn to exercise the superpowers you’ve been given (i.e., faith, hope, love) according to God’s grace. You can’t do everything, but you can do something to spread God’s light to the world. Sure, it’s daunting to think about. I get it. But what are we constantly reminded of in Scripture? What assurance does God constantly give us to quench our anxiety? Over and over again, he says this: “Do not be afraid.”
So, I’m encouraging you not to be afraid to go out and do something remarkable (and all acts of love, kindness, humility, faith and joy are remarkable).
• Do not be afraid to pray at lunchtime in silent witness to your co-workers.
• Do not be afraid to humble yourself enough to say you are sorry. Do not be afraid to visit with someone you know is lonely.
• Do not be afraid to stretch yourself spiritually to a level you never thought possible.
• Do not be afraid to pray longer than you have ever prayed, or give more than you have ever given, or love deeper than you’ve ever loved.
But Catholics ought to dream big dreams as well.
• Don’t be afraid to write that book you’ve been dreaming of writing, take that pilgrimage you’ve been praying about taking or start that business you’ve been planning on starting for years. Go open a school, a shelter or a nonprofit agency.
• Don’t be afraid to ditch your cell phone or television to make time for conversation or prayer in your life.
• Don’t be afraid to tell someone you love them, especially if you never have. If you are really feeling courageous, pray that God makes a saint out of someone who has hurt you — or all the people who have hurt you.
• Don’t be afraid to be who you feel God called you to be — evangelization, after all, begins with you being who God has created you to be.
Evangelization starts with your encounter with Jesus Christ, with God, with the Holy Spirit. It radiates from that relationship into your life activities, and from there it is witnessed by those around you. Finally (and this is important), when people ask where the source of your hope and dreams and joy come from, you can proclaim that it comes from the truth about who you are and who God is and what you are here on earth to do.
It has been said often that the glory of God is man fully alive.
If you are to evangelize, to spread God’s message, then we need you to be fully alive.
It’s your turn.
It’s your choice.
But remember that you are remarkable.
And that I (and we all) believe in you.
Now make something amazing happen.
Ryan Parsons is a teacher, writer and podcaster from Sauk Rapids. You can follow along on his spiritual adventures, listen to his podcast or read his riffs at RyanParsons.co.