Saturday, May 8, 2010

Catholic Evangelization

How much do you know? Seriously, how much do you really know about Catholicism or anything else? I’ve been participating in a lot of different conversations lately, and it’s amazing to me how much people know, but don’t know they know.

Most Catholics know what is and isn’t expected of them when it comes to practicing their faith. They’ve heard more than a few lessons on faith, sin, sacraments, and going to Mass on Sunday. When they participate in these events, they are subject to gaining in depth knowledge, and then some of them even read about lives of the saints or other spiritual books for a pastime. Many of us pray the rosary regularly and participate in ministry.

Yet we are often perceived as being non-evangelical. I have a theory about this. I think that many Catholics don’t know what they know and are afraid to share it. They feel intimidated for any number of reasons. They hold back for fear of getting it wrong. They trust scholarly priests to teach the faith and feel unworthy to broach the subject themselves.

Catholics are probably one of the most learned faith groups in the world. We have the tools and means to convert people, certainly as much as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. If we are active participants in the Catholic religion, we know more than we can even imagine about our faith. All we have to do is join the conversation.

I’ll tell you a bit of a funny story about this now. I was heavily involved in the pro-life ministry one time when two Mormon missionaries came knocking at my door. I was in the process of sorting out pro-life t-shirts at my house. We were selling them at the church that weekend. My Mary statue greeted my visitors like she does everyone.

These two missionaries came to share their faith with me. I smiled and showed them my t-shirts, asking if they wanted to buy one. I told them that Catholics are also involved in all sorts of ministries. They looked at my Mary statue and began questioning our “worship” of her. I quickly told them that we do not worship, but honor her because no other woman on earth was chosen to be the Mother of God.

As the discussion continued, I invited these young boys in for a cool drink. We sat for over an hour discussing the Catholic faith and why I could never convert to Mormonism. By the end of the conversation, one of these boys mentioned that he had Catholic relatives. He even said he might go visit my parish to see the tabernacle I spoke so highly of.

It wasn’t my intention to convert anyone that day. I just shared what I knew with two people willing to listen. When these two young boys left, I sat dumbfounded wondering how I knew so much about my faith and was able to express it. I’d certainly never done that before. And then I realized, I didn’t know what I knew, but once I found out, I recognized more opportunities to do it again.