Michael Brown, who is a sort of ‘Catholic Matt Drudge’ has a new article which is certainly worth reading, if not heeding. Its title says it all: Evangelize, evangelize! If Jehovah’s Witnesses can go door to door, what about us Catholics?
First disclosure: the idea of knocking on doors and speaking to strangers about Jesus Christ makes my blood run cold. This is a gut reaction which I’m conscious could well close me off from the Holy Spirit. I’m happy to be reasoned with, so if you think door knocking strangers is a good idea, please make your case. I promise a fair hearing!
I’m not against all “street evangelisation.” Marcus Goulding and Trevor Tibbertsma, friends of mine from the seminary, had a positive experience of a street evangelisation initiative in Soho, London. Moreover, walking around in a clerical collar presents me with an occasional opportunity to engage in spiritual conversation with strangers.
But none of this, I think, relates to the main task of evangelisation. If “charity begins at home,” shouldn’t evangelisation follow suit? It seems to me that the most effective evangelisation occurs within established relationships — especially loving relationships. It consists primarily in pursuing deeper, more meaningful conversations with friends and relatives. And secondarily, in challenging them to deepen their faith — by means of a good book maybe, or inviting them to Mass, or adoration, or (eek!) confession.
In some ways, this sort of evangelisation requires greater courage than random door-knocking. But it’s also more natural, and for all that, more effective. It’s the sort of evangelisation we see in the New Testament — especially in the calling of the apostles.
As I am wont to do, especially when I get started on the apostolate, I’ll finish with a quote from St Josemaría:
The Christian apostolate — and I’m talking about an ordinary Christian living as just one more man or woman among equals — is a great work of teaching. Through real, personal, loyal friendship, you create in others a hunger for God and you help them to discover new horizons — naturally, simply. With the example of your faith lived to the full, with a loving word which is full of the force of divine truth.
Second disclosure: though it’s long been on my to-do list, I have never read Pope Paul’s Evangelii Nuntiandi. That’s my homework for this week.
(H/T Marcus. Great picture!)