A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Archive for the ‘Evangelization’ Category

Whether on a Pinterest board, on our Facebook wall, or through other social media such as Twitter or Instagram, sharing what we love with our friends and family—or the world at large—continues to be popular.

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Pixie and Skittles, my two cats, enjoying a sun patch. Clearly, I love photos of cute animals.

Perhaps we’re inspired by photos of beautifully plated food, stunning architecture, panoramic city views, fashionably decorated homes, or designer clothes and accessories. Or maybe we’re drawn to natural images: adorable young animals, snow-capped mountain peaks, cascading water, breathtaking sunrises or sunsets, or views of Earth (or even Pluto) from space.

We feel almost compelled to share something that makes us laugh, takes our breath away, or moves us in some way.

We might feel gratitude for all that God has done for us, renewed strength in receiving the Eucharist, and relief and lightness of spirit when we receive the sacrament of reconciliation; do we then feel compelled to share our faith?

I’m not saying we should all be evangelizing on street corners or writing faith-based blogs; not everyone feels called to these things. But we have options for sharing our faith in a low-key way:

  • caring for our neighbours, whether close by (such as by helping someone clear a snow-covered driveway) or not (by volunteering at a soup kitchen, for example)
  • inviting a relative, friend or neighbour to enjoy a pancake breakfast or multicultural dinner or to take part in a yard sale or craft fair held at our church
  • displaying religious art in our home and garden
  • wearing a cross or saint medal on a chain
  • inviting someone to join us for lunch or dinner “after Mass”
  • sending greeting cards that say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Easter” instead of a seasonal message
  • offering to pray for someone experiencing illness or loss or struggling with a difficult decision

Not only might we quietly witness to those who haven’t received God into their hearts or haven’t heard the good news, we might also encourage fellow believers in their faith (see Romans 1:12*).

I pray that God would guide us in sharing our faith with others, whether we’re called to witness in a quiet or a not-so-quiet way.

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.”

~ Mark 16:15

(*Scripture reference and quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, 2nd Catholic Edition.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last night’s federal election results clearly took members of the media, pollsters and average Canadians by surprise. No doubt some campaign workers were shocked, pleasantly or otherwise, by the outcome in their riding.

Even though I volunteered during this campaign, all the effort I’ve seen—phone and door-to-door canvassing, debates, open houses, rallies, the installation of lawn signs, and so on—represents a small portion of the work needed to give a campaign momentum and have it succeed.

But I know that it’s not enough to have a vision; we have to make people aware of that vision.

Remember the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams: “If you build it, he will come”? Sometimes our churches can have a similar approach to attracting newcomers. We create programs and set up committees, but we may only announce these to the congregation at Mass, meaning that the new residents, seekers, and Catholics who have drifted away from the church will never hear about these opportunities to serve and to grow in faith.

When Jesus gave the Great Commission, he didn’t tell the apostles to wait until people came to them to learn about the faith. He told them to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19*) and passing on his teachings. If we want others to know about God’s love for them and the hope of salvation realized through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we need to do more than hope they’ll find their way to the door of our church and the courage to walk inside and take a seat.

We need to have a presence in the community, not just a building people happen to drive by. That might mean taking part in community parades and festivals, promoting events in local newspapers and with lawn signs, sending notices of upcoming activities to area schools, posting events on the parish website and the church’s electronic message sign, and working with community groups that minister to those in need.

We need to remember that the Church exists for those outside it—and make an effort to invite them in so that we have the opportunity to share the good news with them.

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

On Tuesday, I found myself in the orthodontist’s office—not waiting for my son’s appointment to finish, but having braces put on my teeth. The orthodontist felt braces would help bring my top jaw forward to improve my bite.

Right now, it’s still uncomfortable. I can speak and sing clearly, but when I look in the mirror, I feel like the dentist’s niece in Finding Nemo is looking back at me.

Even though more adults go through orthodontic treatment these days, some people are bound to think that I’m vain, or maybe that I look ridiculous, and to question why I’d go this route. At least I’m prepared with answers.

But when people have questions about our faith, are we prepared to answer? Could we explain why we believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, why we ask the saints to intercede for us, or why we recognize Peter as the first pope?

A few days ago, I read Michael Coren’s book The Future of Catholicism. He notes that the Church will face increasing criticism of its stance on abortion, euthanasia, same-sex unions, the celibacy of priests, and other issues. If asked, could we explain, for example, the Church’s position on the sanctity of life from birth till natural death?

Of course, we can and should pray to the Holy Spirit to guide us in the way we answer, not only in terms of the words and tone we use, but also in terms of the content. But whether we’re converts or cradle Catholics, we need to have a deeper understanding of our faith. Making sure we have a Bible and a copy of the Catechism (and maybe the YOUCAT, if we have teenagers) isn’t enough. Here are some steps we can take:

  • become more familiar with the Bible and the Catechism to guide us in finding the answers to questions our children, other Christians, or nonbelievers may ask;
  • tune into programs on EWTN, Salt & Light TV or Radio Maria to learn about the rosary, the saints, Church history, and so on;
  • keep up to date on news about the Church using the Missio app;
  • explore the Vatican news website to learn about the history of the church, read papal encyclicals, and more; and
  • take part in Bible studies and programs such as Symbolon to learn more about our faith.

I pray that we would take to heart these words in 1 Peter 3:15*:

Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence….

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)


Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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