The new evangelization invites us to renew our relationship with Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church—and in spreading His truth we each must define and practice our personal evangelism.
Catholic evangelization efforts escalated after the 2008 Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) study, “Sacraments Today: Belief and Practice Among U.S. Catholics,” which showed that just 23 percent of American Catholics regularly attended Mass while 77 percent self-identified as proud to be Catholic.
Says world-renowned author, speaker, and theologian Dr. Scott Hahn in “Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization” (Amazon, $10.89 hardcover), published in 2014: “You can’t keep the faith unless you give it away.”
Dr. Hahn adds that every one of us can evangelize by sharing our deep friendship with Jesus Christ with those closest to us and then with an ever-widening circle of family, friends, and acquaintances.
And while his book provides a road map, evangelization isn’t the same for every Catholic—which comes as a huge relief to Catholics like me. Thankfully, not all of us are meant to share our love of Jesus Christ with the stranger sitting next to us on the same park bench.
Anxiety about sharing my faith with strangers meant I negatively reacted to the call of the New Evangelization, a reaction I remember discussing with Huntington Beach author Cathy Duffy when we spoke about her 2018 book, “Everyday Evangelism for Catholics: A Practical Guide to Spreading the Faith in a Contemporary World” (Amazon. $16.54 paperback).
“Conversations with people are an underrated tool,” Duffy explains. “Everyone has an issue, something troubling them. You can start asking about whether God is part of their lives. It’s all about reaching out and starting the conversation.”
The ways we begin that conversation, and share our Catholic faith, can be as individual as we are.
As editor Kathleen Beckman observes in her 2017 book, “When Women Pray – Eleven Catholic Women on the Power of Prayer” (Amazon, $10.79 paperback), women have a singular receptivity to God making their prayer lives distinctive from men’s.
“Women’s prayer is not more powerful than men’s prayer,” explains Beckman. “Still, we have a maternal way of praying, a motherly response. Women pray from the heart.”
Right now, I’m deep into the process of prayer myself, discerning the best ways to share my faith with others, having recently completed a daylong workshop, Called & Gifted.
Called & Gifted is a three-step program offered by the Colorado Springs-based St. Catherine of Siena Institute that employs a process used since 1993 by more than 100,000 lay, ordained, and religious Catholics, and other Christians worldwide to discern the presence of charisms in their lives.
Charisms, or spiritual gifts, are special abilities given to all Christians by the Holy Spirit to represent Christ and to be a channel of God’s goodness for people.
Unsurprisingly the process identified writing as my charism; now I’m in the process of discerning the most fruitful ways I can employ it. Patience, unfortunately, is not a strength of mine, so the process has been difficult.
My hope is that I can ultimately embrace my charism to fully live the call of the New Evangelism in ways that are pleasing to God, effective in spreading the Good News—and uniquely suited to my personality.