I am a new Catholic…just one year ago…and I come from a protestant background with several years of fundamentalism and sinful rebellion thrown in for excitement Currently a group of us are doing a Catholic Bible study titled, “The Words of the Risen Christ” by Rich Cleveland. Throughout the book is a strong emphasis on sharing our faith with others. What I am struggling with is how does one do this exactly in the Catholic Church? I mean…before I was Catholic I always felt a great desire to reach out to those around me and tell them about Jesus. I especially enjoyed reaching out to the “unlovely” or sometimes ignored…those who have lived difficult lives and made poor choices. (I could relate…I made some really bad decisions in my life) Although I enjoyed reaching out to those people it wasn’t always easy…but I knew that with some effort and compassion they would eventually come to know the Christ I loved so dearly. And the great thing was I could bring them into the loving and compassionate arms of the church where they would be welcomed, nourished and eventually grow. Many of these people came from lives full of destruction and shame. I always believed that the church would welcome them once they recognized their sin and repented and they would be able to fully participate and contribute to the further function and growth of the church. But how is this same acceptance available in the Catholic Church? Please understand that I converted to the Catholic faith because it confirmed many truths I always felt in my heart…and I love Her. But I remember before I converted how lonely it felt to be “on the outside” …not able to participate fully but longing to so desperately. How do I go to my neighbor who is divorced (maybe even 3 times!) and tell them of the wonderful Church I belong to and then explain to them that they can not fully particpate in the most important part of what I believe…the Eucharist…the receiving of Christ’s body and blood? How do I invite the un-churched neighbors who were married by a ship’s captain on a cruse to come and visit my church then encourage them not to be offended when the church views their marriage as invalid? I understand that even though our sins are forgiven once we confess them, there is still a price we must pay for sin…and sometimes that price is great…but how do I minister to them? How do I show them love and welcome them when the barrier of their sin to the Church is so prevalent? Is there some information out there somewhere that deals with this subject more fully? Is evangilism in the Catholic Church only for the pagans who know no different or to inspire and encourage the growth from within the Church with established families? I love the Church…I love being Catholic…but I love telling others about Christ…how he died for our sins and that through repentance and forgiveness, participating in the Sacraments, and the power of the Holy Spirit we can come to know him personally and then share that knowledge with others. I want to do this right. I want to do as Christ commands to be His witness to others…especially those without hope. Please help me understand.:crossrc:
You don’t do anything differently than you did before. Show everyone the love of Jesus. Talk to your friends. Invite them to church. Invite them to investigate the Catholic faith through RCIA.
If they have a prior marriage, the priest will work with them to investigate the situation if they do want to enter the Catholic Church.
As for those non-Catholics married civilly (for whom there are no prior marriages) you are under the mistaken impression that the Church considers those marriages invalid. It does not.
The bottom line is, you do not do anything different. The Truth is the Truth and we are obligated to show otheres the Way.
Thank you for responding, but I am wondering if inviting someone to investigate the Catholic faith through RCIA is really all we can do? (Along with showing the love of Jesus ) It is my understanding that RCIA is offered only once a year.(At least in our parish) Is there information out there somewhere on how to evangelize the Christian “Catholic” way with full knowledge of the Church to people from difficult lifestyles? If it were no different then why is there Catholic and Protestant? Is there something to give some guidance to the Catholic lay-person who feels called to evangelize? It just seems that we need a bridge to assist those along the way. Another question, please: What if one of the friends who married civilly was a baptised but non-practicing Catholic? Would the church still consider that marriage valid? I am very thankful for your response and would appreciate any suggestions you may have…or others.
No, it is not “all” you can do, it was one of several suggestions I made including witnessing and inviting to Church. If you attend or host a bible study, invite them to that. If you are involved in a food pantry ministry, invite them to that. That’s the “witnessing” part.
It varies from parish to parish. However, suggesting RCIA should not be the first conversation you have with someone-- nor did I intend to imply such. That woul come if and when they express a desire to consider the Catholic faith more seriously. The witnessing, inviting to Church, evangelization in an informal way comes first.
I’m not sure why you think evangelizing as a Catholic is any different than evangelizing as a Protestant. What did you do to evangelize before you were Catholic?
I was referring to the methods of evangelizing, not the content. Of course Catholic doctrine differs form non-Catholic teachings.
Does your diocese have an office of evangelization? Ours does. Go to your diocesan website and look around. And/or call your diocesan office and ask if there is a director of evangelization and/or catechesis. They can help you with lay ministry classes you can take.
In general, no. It would be invalid due to lack of form. However, each specific case is different-- there could be circumstances you may not know about such as a dispensation received by the Catholic, formal defection from the faith, etc.
I’m not sure why you are so focused on peoples’ marriage situation. It doesn’t change the truth, and shouldn’t change your evangelization efforts.
I agree with 1ke. Don’t worry about what sin they may or not be committing but just expose them to the Love and Mercy of Jesus and the beauty of the Catholice faith.
Invite them to church for Mass, devotion, or even social or study group. I find that the best way to evangelize is just by being an example. By someone seeing how you live and act, it will make them ask questions.
Before someone can be catechized, they need to be evangelized. People need to know the Lord and how much He loves them before they will follow any rules or religion. Think about your own conversion and how you felt.
Most importantly pray for all souls that they may come to know our Lord.
I think it’s because they can make a decision for Christ, get baptized the same day, and start receiving Holy Communion the following Sunday, in the Protestant churches - you just buttonhole them on the bus or out on the street, get them “saved” and then move on.
With Catholic evangelism, it requires a long-term relationship with the person you are evangelizing. One conversation on the bus, following the talking points on a pamphlet, is not enough - you have to gently lead them through a series of steps that can take years to complete.
Having “taught” RCIA for several years in my own parish, I find that most, if not almost all,of the people who seek to come into the church do so because the parish is warm, inviting, and the Pastor is solid in his faith and at the same time approachable and down to earth. It isn’t because anyone verbally “convinced” them to come to Catholicism.
The old saying, “You might be the only Bible anyone ever reads” is applicable to your questions. People like to follow people who are examples of strength, especially quiet strength. People gravitate to those whose actions speak much louder than their words. Be an example of that.
One of the posters on the forum uses a signature that is a quote from a saint. It goes something like: Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary, use words" I don’t thank that’s verbatim, but it is operative for anyone who is good at bringing people to the fold.
That’s from St. Francis, and if I recall correctly, he lived in a culture that was 100% Catholic. If you were a “good person” it was assumed that you were a good Catholic.
Today, you can be a good person, and nobody will know what religion (if any) is inspiring your behaviour, unless you actually bring up the subject.
So, a certain amount of words are necessary - it’s not necessary to make great long speeches, of course - but a word or two here and there can help, as well.
Thank you, everyone…your posts have been most helpful.
“Don’t worry about what sin they may or not be committing but just expose them to the Love and Mercy of Jesus and the beauty of the Catholice faith.”
Thank you for your beautiful message. It is clear the love of Christ lives in you and your words about our Faith and Church are inspiring.
I’m struggling with this myself. I often want so much to speak of the beauties of our Faith but am afraid. I think of Moses when God asked him to lead his people… how he too was afraid and said he couldn’t speak well or something to that affect.
What I’ve started to do is buy pamphlets. I by as many as I can- from Sunday Visitor and other sites - about how to answer Protestant questions etc and I pass them out everywhere. I put them in the Church racks etc- that way, I don’t have to say anything and I feel I’m doing something. I hope and pray someone that needs it might come across it.
I also carry $3.00 cd’s of Scott Hahn and other converts- in my purse and if someone mentions they are straying or whatever- I just hand them a cd. I know it’s a chicken way out but I … really feel afraid. Just yesterday I met a young woman that has left our Church and has started going to a non denominational Church- I gave her the brochure “Pillar of Fire”…This is my way of making up for my fear.
I love reading from former Protestants because we can learn so much from them… so much about evangelizing…
Pray for me that I might find the strength to stop being so afraid and that I might be able spread the Good News. I will pray for you so that you can “remember how to Evangelize” and do so with the same strength and love you did before- except this time, with and for the Church that Jesus Christ founded.
Somewhere in these forums I read that we should always take great care always but especially when we go to Mass - after all you never know who is sitting next to you. It might be there last time there. It might be that that is their last Mass. Welcome everyone… smile at everyone…say hello and do not fear… Jesus Christ walks with us…
Thank you for the wonderful response. You are doing an amazing job of evangilizing…and you are doing it in a way that is comfortable for you and that is great. I really appreciate your suggestions and I will incorporate some of them in my reaching out to others. Thank you and God bless!
Scribbler, you may want to invest in a wonderful book, Search and Rescue: How to Bring Your Family and Friends Into, or Back Into, the Catholic Church. This is a “must read” for anyone who is serious about evangelization.
Thank you very much!