Continuing our ongoing discussion of Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization
On page 4, we read this,
Even though much has already been done to welcome our missing brothers and sisters back to the Lord’s Table, there is still so much more that can be done. Catholics may desire to take on the call to evangelize but feel ill prepared to explain Church teachings. Some believe they lack the formation to be personal witnesses to Christ. [emphasis mine]
When I first started as a catechist, the fall right after my reception into the Church, I felt about as unqualified as you can get. I had spent the previous RCIA season reading only what was required.
My theory was that if the Catholic Church was so great, it would be able to convince me without any work on my part. (And wow! It did! But oh, do I ever shake my head at Old Sarah and her Big Ego. )
What brought me into the front of a religious education classroom was a niggling-nagging feeling and the puppy dog eyes of our director of religious education. I liked her, I wanted to help her, and doggone it, I did have a degree in education (high school agricultural education, but still).
In the years since, I have been employed by our parish and have observed the hesitation people have for the role of catechist and teacher. It’s scary! How do you answer the inevitable stumpers? What if…?
This section continues,
Also, our brothers and sisters who have drifted away from the faith may be unable to vocalize why they stopped regularly attending Mass and parish activities, or they may not know with whom they can speak about why they left. Adolescents and young adults need active and engaging ministries and formation opportunities, including direct service.
I’ve joked in our parish office that every problem comes back to communications. Isn’t that just what the bishops are saying here?
Who do you go to to get the satisfaction of airing your grievance with the Church? And if it’s you they come to, will you be able to convince them to stay, come back, or not? And is that what God really wants?
I’ve really, REALLY struggled with this. As a bit of a Jack Russell personality, I know that I can get so enthusiastic about something (namely, faith) that it’s almost a turn-off to those around me. My enthusiasm morphs into the wrong kind of zeal and I turn into the worst possible person to talk to.
And then there’s the whole “thing” with youth and young adult ministries. Is it better to have a special Mass for them? Oh, we should probably change our music program. Hey, why don’t we set up a program that has interactive games and spends a bunch of money and makes everyone feel good?
What’s the right answer?
My experience is that really, people just need to be loved. (Cue portrait of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.) Active and engaging doesn’t have to take away from the beauty of the core tenets of our faith. At a recent two-week period I spent with a group of Confirmation students, they cited praying the rosary and Eucharistic Adoration as their favorite elements.
We had games. We had interaction. We had deep reflection. They wanted the rosary and Adoration.
But you know what? Given the chance, I think we just need to show them Jesus.
He’s in the poor and needy. He’s in the people beside you. He’s
And most importantly, he’s in the Eucharist.
Evangelization is, at its heart, showing them Jesus. That’s the heart of bringing people back and of engaging our young people. That’s the core of who we are as Catholics.
Previous posts in this series:
Copyright © 2012, Sarah Reinhard