Last week the Holy Father entrusted the Year of Faith and the Synod on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith to Mary, and it got me thinking: If the Successor of St. Peter is entrusting this monumental time in the Church to Our Blessed Mother, all the more reason for me to entrust this time in my faith journey to her.
And why wouldn’t I? How can there ever be a better guide to light the way for us as we journey to Christ than the Star of the New Evangelization?
There are many ways we can allow Our Lady to illuminate the path to her Son. There are many ways she can show us how to shine in doing His work and building up His kingdom on earth. I find that in my life she doesn’t mince words. She seems to have a kind of “Do whatever he tells you” way of lighting the path for me.
Take evangelization, the very reason for the Church’s existence. The term itself used to scare me. It freaked me out to think that I would have to go and evangelize someone.
What if that someone asked me something about my faith and I didn’t know the answer? What if I couldn’t explain every doctrine and dogma of the Church with precise clarity? What if I had to tell people I had never met why I loved Jesus? Scary.
Then, one day I had this beautiful “a-ha” moment. As I read, for the ka-jillionth time, the Magnificat, it occurred to me that this was the most perfect way to evangelize. Instantly, “evangelization” became less scary, because I got a glimpse of its true meaning.
In the Magnificat we find the most perfect example of how we are to share our faith and build up the Kingdom of God. Cardinal Dolan, in his strategy for the New Evangelization, said that the missionary and the evangelist must be “a person of joy.”
Yes! Amen! That was exactly the reaction of a young woman from Nazareth to the most incredible message in all of history. Mary reacted with joy.
Then, get this, after getting such monumental life-changing news she goes in “haste” to the hillside to care for her cousin. When she reaches the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary is so moved by joy that she breaks out in song.
She is moved by the joy that God is about to radically change history, she is moved by His mercy —He is coming to save His servant, Israel. He is coming for the salvation of all, and He has chosen the lowly to do this, He has chosen a little handmaid.
When Mary reaches Elizabeth, she is the perfect example of how we must evangelize. First, she expresses what’s in her heart. In fact, she is so full of joy that she doesn’t merely express her feelings for the Lord, her soul magnifies the Lord! The first thing Mary shows Elizabeth is this magnificent joy, and that’s what we must do as evangelists.
We must show others the joy of Christ in our hearts. We must be joyful. We must find happiness in the mercy of God.
Next, Mary tells what God has done specifically for her “for He who is mighty has done great things for me…” This is what we must do when we share our faith. We must give our testimony.
What great things has Jesus done for me? How has He changed my life? How has he saved me from the path of distruction I was on? Share with people how the Lord has transformed your life.
Last, Mary describes God in general “and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear from from generation to generation.” In evangelization, this is where we share the truth of Jesus. This is where we proclaim the Gospel and tell of Christ saving us from the bondage of sin through his passion, death, and resurrection.
Mary’s Magnificat is the perfect example of how we must evangelize, for in it she is a radiant beam of joy that lures us to find the cause of her exuberance. Through it she is the guiding light to the mystery of salvation in her womb. This is why the Holy Father entrusted the Year of Faith and the Synod on the New Evangelization to her care, guidance, and protection.
This affirms what I believe is the key to evangelization, a key found in the motto of Blessed John Henry Newman, “Cor ad cor loquitur” (Hearts speaks to heart).
Evangelization must be from heart to heart. We must, like Mary, show others the joy we have knowing Jesus is in us. We must, like Mary, tell of the great things the Lord has done for us, how He’s changed our lives. We must, like Mary, share the ultimate joy, the victory of life over the emptiness of death, the story of our salvation through Jesus Christ. And, for evangelization to be effective, all of this must be done from heart to heart.
*There are many wonderful ways you can follow Our Lady’s lead throughout this Year of Faith. One of the best is to entrust yourself to her, to consecrated to her Son through her. If you are interested in Marian Consecration, check out the simple and up-to-date 33 Days to Morning Glory Retreat by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC. The 33 Days to Morning Glory Retreat of part of the Hearts Afire Parish-based Programs for the New Evangelization.
Copyright © 2012, Kelly Wahlquist