Are you afraid to share your Catholic faith with others? When the opportunity presents itself, do you fail to be open about your beliefs? If so, you may have evangephobia.
Once in a while, as a writer, you come up with an idea that is truly unique. When I thought up the word evangephobia, I thought that I had done just that.
Unfortunately, I was wrong.
My first thought was to use my dear friend, the search engine, to see if there was a definition of the word. While it may not have made it into many dictionary entries, I found that it had been used many times before.
My unique idea was not so unique, but that’s okay. Let’s explore the idea from a slightly different direction.
You have no doubt heard of the New Evangelization (you are reading the New Evangelizers blog, of course), but are you following the call of the New Evangelization? If not, you may have New Evangephobia.
The New Evangelization is not the use of new media in evangelization, as some may incorrectly think. It is the re-evangelization of those who have lost their way.
The USCCB phrases it like this:
“The focus of the New Evangelization calls all Catholics to be evangelized and then go forth to evangelize. In a special way, the New Evangelization is focused on ‘re-proposing’ the Gospel to those who have experience a crisis of faith… The New Evangelization invites each Catholic to renew their relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church.” (Source: www.USCCB.org).
Step one, then, of the New Evangelization is to refocus our faith on Jesus Christ. Before we can evangelize others, we need to ensure that our own house is in order first. This first step often brings the most fear.
Accepting and admitting our weaknesses can be a difficult thing to do, but it is an essential part of our growth. Our faith cannot reach its full potential if we see no room for improvement.
Once we have taken steps to grow in our own relationship with Christ, we are called by the New Evangelization to share what we have learned. This, too, can be a source of anxiety.
Often times, we imagine sharing our faith as standing on a soap box and preaching the Gospel. Or, we expect to stand on a street corner with a sign around our neck that reads, “The end is near!” Neither of these is necessary.
Sharing the Gospel can happen in much simpler ways. Life presents us many options. From a friend in crisis to a neighbor with questions, there are many ways to openly present the faith.
When a loved one is facing tragedy, do you tell them that Christ’s love can pull them through? When others criticize the Church, do you stand up for what we believe? When going about your daily life, do your actions show the beauty of the faith?
New Evangephobia, like most other phobias, can paralyze us in fear. We are given opportunities to share the faith, but we fail to act.
Luckily, there is a cure.
Overcoming New Evangephobia requires one thing: the Holy Spirit. There is no other way; we cannot overcome it on our own. We must let go of our fear and put it in the hands of God.
You will never know the perfect thing to say. You will never fully know the right way to act. But you can give your life to the Holy Spirit, and He will guide you in the right direction.
The New Evangelizers blog will give you many tools, ideas, and resources for being a part of the New Evangelization, but it cannot evangelize for you. You must do that on your own.
It’s time to overcome you New Evangephobia and begin sharing the beauty of the Gospel with the world – starting with those around you. Do not let a day go by where you do not show your family, friends, coworkers, and classmates the light of Christ shining through you, in word and in deed.
Copyright © 2012, Chad R. Torgerson