When evangelizing, when is it time to walk away? It may seem contrary to the spirit of evangelization, but it is a valid question.
When you “go out into the deep,” in the words of our Savior Himself, it can be a scary thing, mostly because you have no clue what fish you may encounter. You certainly will not be the first person to be challenged by someone on the basic dogmas of the Catholic faith. I’m not saying that everyone you will encounter is going to be difficult. Certainly not. Many will be open to what you have to say, but others will be downright hostile.
Some of the usual objections will sound like this: Why do you worship Mary and the Saints? Why do you follow the Pope? The papacy is not legitimate.
I have encountered these just in recent weeks. If you lay out every fact available in Scripture or other document, your defense, most of the time, will fall on deaf ears.
I have actually had someone tell me that St. Ignatius of Antioch directed people to not follow the direction of their local Bishops. This was used as an argument against the hierarchy of the Catholic Church from priest to deacon to Bishop. My simple defense was to remind him that St. Ignatius himself was a Bishop, which they ignored….go figure.
Another favorite tactic is to change the topic. Constantly. Instead of concentrating on one topic through to the end and just when you think you have the evidence presented in a manner that cannot be refuted, they bounce to another topic requiring more research and time. I have experienced this one myself and it can be extremely frustrating – – the worst is a Facebook thread that encompasses about 50 posts and 5 different topics. I like to refer to this tactic as the scattershot method. They throw as many things your way as they can in the hopes that at least one might change the topic for good.
If your efforts at evangelization are becoming frustrating, making you angry, or just burned out, simply walk away.
That’s right. Just realize that your present effort is going nowhere and walk away from it. Simply acknowledge the common ground and acknowledge the truth of the Gospel.
This doesn’t sound like evangelization. But these situations can be a distraction. Satan’s main objective is to destroy the Church. And evangelization starts by evangelizing yourself.
If you are spending all your time researching points of defense then you are losing valuable time on your own development. If you are not spending your time learning your Faith then you are distracted. Satan has his foot in the door, and who knows, he may succeed in making you start to question your Faith in light of the arguments being hurled your way.
Explore the wealth of books available to Catholics today. Read some books on the early Church Fathers. Then go back to the original source documents.
Read some of the writings of the Church Fathers like On Christian Doctrine by Saint Augustine, Against Heresies by Iranaeus of Lyons, or perhaps any of the seven letters of Ignatius of Antioch. Read some of the documents from Vatican II. Crack open a few encyclicals like Humane Vitae (On the Regulation of Human Births) by Pope Paul VI, Evangelium Vitae (Gospel of Life) by Pope John Paul II, Supremi Apostolatus Officio (On Devotion of the Rosary) by Pope Leo XIII, Ubi Primum (On the Immaculate Conception) by Pope Pius X, and the most recent Lumen Fidei (Light of Faith) by Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict.
Educate yourself, evangelize yourself, THEN go back out into the deep. In the words of St. Basil “without knowledge….we cannot be made like him, and knowledge cannot be achieved without lessons.”
Copyright © 2013, Pete Socks