Evangelizing to Catholics

In this other thread about EWTNs Journey Home program we got to talking about Catholics not recognizing the richness of their faith, somewhat sleepwalking through it.

Mike Brick shared an interesting insight:

Which spurred me on to start this thread (didn’t want to hi-jack the other):

Is there anything we can do as fellow Catholics to help our brothers/sister even notice that there’s something more to the plot of land they inherited, let alone desire to cultivate that land to find the Treasure beneath?

I had noted earlier in the conversation that I find myself dropping the names of EWTN, Relevant Radio and this CAF board to anyone in my parish who makes a comment in passing that shows the person is repeating what they’ve heard about Catholic teaching rather than what is really true, and that most of the time these people dismiss my comment. It appears they aren’t interested in exploring the validity of the statement they just made. I’ve also noticed they stop making statements about the church and her teachings around me from there on out. Even with my own mother I get the eye-rolling whenever I mention something I’ve learned through these channels. She says she’s happy I’ve come alive in my faith but leave her alone, she’s fine the way she is and it’s between her and God. :frowning:

I find myself sitting here thinking “You can bring a horse to water…” but surely there must be more we can do. All thoughts, insights, experiences you’d like to share would be most welcome.

And this is the reality - just because someone inherits a faith or religion, baptized and brought up in it, going through the motions week after week, doesn’t mean that they are part of the faithful of God. Christ said the wheat and the tares will grow up together. So evangelization isn’t just for the unchurched, or those who are outside the Church, but for those who come every week, sit in the pews, partake of the Eucharist, never really knowing the God they think they are appeasing (in a superstitious way) by their catatonic motions.

Does that sound too harsh? I see it all the time in church. They file in and file out, looking bored, anxious to get this thing, this intrusive obligation, over with. These are the people who are the hardest to reach. Their hearts are disengaged, hardened, but they think that what they are doing is all that is needed to save them. And most of the time, they are not hearing any differently from their priests. It is the saddest thing in the world.:frowning:

I really love this topic. I feel my greatest responsibility is to help awaken this type of Catholic to the truth. I don’t worry about those of other faiths or denominations because there are so many in our own Church who need evangelization!

I have experienced the same thing you described. Most folks in my neck of the woods don’t even know about EWTN so many haven’t formed an opinion yet. I know that for me, it was the bumper sticker on the back of someone’s car that compelled me to check out the local Catholic radio station. I made sure I got one for my car too!

I’ve taken a few people with me to see Fr. Corapi when he has come to our city. That has opened the door to Catholic radio and EWTN. People inevitably have a positive response to him and once they know they can hear him on the radio, the do express interest.

However, there are many who dismiss Catholic radio as fanatical. I “won” the gift of having a famous Catholic Answers speaker come to speak at the Parish of my choosing. I decided to give this gift to what I considered to be the most liberal Parish in the diocese. When I contacted the Pastor to arrange for the event, he declined, saying that he didn’t feel the Catholic faith was properly represented on EWTN. :eek: I should not have been surprised really, but I found it very disheartening.

I figure if I keep yapping about Catholic radio, EWTN and CAF, eventually someone will check it out. I can only carry the message and pray someone will hear!

Not harsh at all.
The rub is not only do they thing they are doing what they need to be saved, they think they are already saved and that all they need to do now is keep on truckin’ in the same mode. That’s what scares me most, particularly with my mother and other immediate family members. They are absolutely convinced they are ‘safe’ and I’m a nutcase. :blush:

I’ve been thinking of this topic a lot lately, as I’ve had a ton of conversations with a co-worker who is a lukewarm cradle Catholic. I had to go through quite a study process before I converted, and I have no fear about sharing what I’ve learned with her. However, she acts like this level of knowledge is a surprise to her, and that she doesn’t know as much as me because, as she says, “I didn’t go to Catholic school or RCIA.”

Now, her son is preparing to get married, and he’s marrying a non-Catholic girl outside of the Church, and isn’t seeking a dispensation to do so. She has utterly failed to pass her Catholic faith on to her son, and doesn’t even see it as a problem that her son is going into marriage without considering his obligations as a Catholic.

I’ve recently mentioned the Vatican document on the nature of the Church, and she finds it too ‘exclusive’ and ‘judgmental.’ She sees the community outreach programs that took place over the past several decades as an ‘opening up’ of the Church to other faiths, and doesn’t see any reason that her faith choice is any better than anyone else’s. In other words, she’s just Catholic by heritage, and if she were born into a different family and/or culture, she’d have a different religion (or none at all).

I’ve been very patient in my conversations with this woman, and although she knows the very basic content of the faith, it doesn’t seem to make a bit of impact in her decisions and behaviors. I have absolutely no idea what I can do to help awaken her faith and show her the treasure she’s had all along - a treasure for which many have willingly sacrificed everything.

Same here - Ave Maria Radio was instrumental in my conversion.

Another co-worker’s interest in Catholicism was renewed by Catholic radio, to which she started listening after seeing a bumper sticker on someone’s car. She’s a cradle Catholic, but says that the faith wasn’t really passed on by her family or religious education programs. Now, she’s about as on-fire for the Catholic faith as anyone I’ve met recently, but has discovered that her priest isn’t particularly interested in starting an adult education program. What’s a person in a situation like that supposed to do?

I know what you mean. I was called “extreme” by my own mother who’s Catholic.
My wife is having a hard time with me coming back to the church. She’s getting better. Anyway, Mom wanted my wife to go to church with me while she watched the kids. My wife was wearing shorts and a strapless shirt. I said no she’s not going dressed like. I’m EXTREME.

aww :blush:
this thread is totally hitting home. i can relate exactly to what everyone is saying here. i did start a thread to see about parish adult ed programs:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=170875

and it seems we are not alone in our frustrations to get the Word out…
even if a parish does have a program, it is not well attended. on a positive note tho, my sister’s pastor is an excellent priest. and he currently has a summer talk (once a week), and he has about 50 people showing up, and their’s is a small parish. i guess it just goes to show you that the flock needs a good shepherd!

about the obligation to go to mass, “just get it over with” mentality. at saturday mass this weekend, it is amazing how many people have the appearance of just stopping what they are doing and then go to mass. some look like they just stepped out of the garden or from pool side. that is why i have tried to get my pastor to put educational articles in the bulletin, because most people just automatically take that home, and then maybe there is a chance of them reading it. but so far pastor hasn’t been to helpful about my idea…

i guess prayer is our main starting point

I’d suggest you start a rosary novena. There are several ways to do this; you could research it on the internet.

My story:
The year I started the devotion of the daily rosary (the standard one, praying 5 decades a day), I prayed a 27 day novena for my children’s souls to be saved (Aug). Unknown to me, in Oct. (a month of Mary) my birthson wrote The Letter I would receive just before Christmas telling me he’d been searching for me; I hadn’t even know if he was dead or alivef for 27 yrs, but had always prayed God would take care of him. We were reunited the following summer!

In Nov. (after I’d said the novena), my son that was in the Navy and stationed in Sicily was in a rollover car accident and escaped with a few scratches on his hand; this happened on my birthday!
He told me there was (as he described it) a rosebush stuck in the grill of the car – I took it as a sign from Our Lady. Not ony that, but he was able to be here for the reunion and meet his half bro! All the timing of how things came together and how my sons were accepting of the situation was truly amazing!

I, too, am hurt by people who seem to not be truly engaged in the faith, but I remember that I was in that place once also. I know the prayers of my parents had much to do with my return, as well as realizing my vocation in Motherhood.

AND my dh converted 2 yrs ago! And my Navy son is getting more interested again in Catholicism.

Try to get to Adoration as often as possible and present these people to Our Lord; pray for each individual by name. You will see results, but in God’s perfect timing.

God bless,
Mimi

Great words of encouragement!

Hi Y’all, I used to be a parishioner at a nearby Catholic Church, where the pastor believed that if someone believes something religious, with all their heart, even if they are dead wrong, they’ll be okay when they die. My Baptist wife hated going there, and I despised Sundays too because I usually spent the afternoon trying to defend the pastor, and finally realized I couldn’t!

Thank God the Bishop finally formed a new parish, even closer to me, which was named Most Precious Blood, and appointed a young priest as our pastor. Fr. Stephen Parkes was 40 at the time, and had been ordained for seven years. His older brother Gregory was named the pastor of another parish started at the same time called Corpus Christi, (they were both formed in 2005, which Pope John Paul II had dedicated to the Eucharist). Fr. Stephen is a deeply spiritual priest and a great preacher.

Since I am now retired, in the very beginning I offered to help him with anything he needed explaining that there were lots of talented lay people who would become members of the new parish, who would want to be more involved than just attending mass. I reminded him of the idea of a former pastor of mine, who was Fr. Stephen’s pastor and mentor for the previous seven years, which is the pastor can’t do everything for everyone, and is called to be the spiritual leader of the parish. He went on to say if the grass needs cutting, or the airconditioner didn’t work, take care of it because he will be at the hospital, hearing confessions or comforting families who were hurting.

So from the beginning, Fr. Stephen was predisposed to allow the lay people to do what they are good at, and to reserve for himself what God called him to do, and the Bishop told him to do, “go and make saints”.

He is a shy man, and maybe not a “natural” preacher, but he was very well trained in the dioceses seminary, and I keep reminding him he can preach a little longer, we aren’t looking at our watches, or figiting with hymnals, we are listening.

As a result of his spiritual leadership, we have built the “Church” here in our community, but we haven’t started to build the church building, and a large part of our new parish is made up of people like me from the previous parish who are looking to deepen their faith.

At mass, our worship space, (which for the time is only a rented school cafeteria), fills from the front, not the back like most churches both Catholic and non-catholic. So if you want a seat in the front, you had better get there early. (By the way, my wife likes to sit in the 2nd row, and rarely goes to her Baptist church any longer, because she is “being fed”, by our pastor, for the 1st. time in 36 years of our marriage.)

So the point of my long explanation is your pastor is the key to evangelizing your parish, and evangelize you must! About 40 years Pope Paul VI urged us to evangelization, and make Jesus truly known in our world. Pope John Paul II urged us to start with parishes first, then into our communities.

If you can get your pastor fired up to evangelize, you must let him know there are people in the parish who will help him, because he can’t do it alone.

The Catholic church looses too many of it’s members to the exciting, dynamic, entertaining non-denominationals, even though the theology is incomplete, or sometimes even wrong. But after all if they were taught that one is as good as the other, what do you expect.

Our website is www.oviedocatholic.org. You can check out all that we are doing, and even download Fr. Stephen’s homilies.

I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.

In Christ
Mike

I love hearing these stories. It proves that the non-denoms are not the only ones motivated and thriving! For all the discouraging things we see and hear about within the Catholic community, God is still moving in the hearts of those who will be moved! :getholy:

God Bless!

I understand first and foremost the need to pray rosaries, novenas and go to adoration about my family and friends who are ‘lukewarm’ at best, and I’m doing all that, but I’m still afraid for them and wonder if there is something more tangible (rather than spiritual) I should be doing to help wake them up.

That passage in Revelations about God spitting out the lukewarm motivates me to shake off any complacency, but I can’t seem to get that message across to my loved ones. My husband and kids are with me, thank goodness. But our extended family members are almost all sleepwalking or have turned Protestant. It is unsettling.

I only get together with them once every 3 years or so, and it’s become almost strained and superficial because we can’t discuss religion or politics (since religion plays a big role in politics for me these days), so all our conversations are shallow.

sigh I know, I know…prayer is the best course, but still…I do long to do more. The yearning in my heart to do more disturbs me a little because I can’t put my finger on just what it is I’m meant to do. In the meantime I come here every day to see if the Lord is talking to me through the discussions here and I keep my Relevant Radio going.

Of course, now I hear Fr. Corapi in my head asking me if I’ve been fasting :blush:

That Fr. Corapi, he’ll get you every time! :wink:

According to him, this way is the simplest way - the Rosary, the Rosary, the Rosary. He swears by it, er, well maybe not swear :blush: , but you know what I mean!:smiley:

Look where it put him!:thumbsup:

wow, you’re like in my head. i keep having these same thoughts too! even my sister and her husband, who are faithful catholics, think i am overboard, and everybody else just thinks i’m wacky. if people perceive you as wacky, what chance do you have of helping them see the light?

right now i am trying to compose a letter to my aunt, who altho she just had her son confirmed in may, is going to be entering an invalid marriage this weekend. she called me “too catholic” 3 years ago at a family event and at that time i was a nominal catholic myself! where does all of this hostility come from? i mean catholic hostility, not protestant hostility. i want to support her, but i also want to let her know that she is doing certain things in error according to the church. and how to use the most charitable language that will keep her reading the entire letter, instead of just throwing it away. :frowning:

if anyone discovers the secret of sharing the Light, please pass it along.

Being called names may be unavoidable. Our Lord was called many names, was scorned, humiliated and mocked. You are in good company.

Is your aunt aware that marrying outside the Church will prevent her from receiving th Eucharist? If she already knows that her marriage violates Catholic teaching, I don’t think I would press the point. I would (as I have with many friends) simply tell her that should she proceed with her wedding, she will not be able to take to Communion. If she wants more information, you can provide that. If she has no idea that her marriage will be considered invalid, I would provide her with the necessary info (perhaps from the Cathechism) and leave it at that. My job, as I see it, is to equip people with with the truth - the decision, beyond that, belongs to them.

For me, the key to speaking effectively with other Catholics is to speak with authority, as did the Lord. If you present the Church teaching with full confidence, unwavering belief and love, you leave a more profound impression. While the response may still be rejection, people are more prone to walk away and think about something that has been said in absolute confidence. I am reminded of when Christ commanded the apostles to “eat His flesh and drink His blood”. Many of them turned away, saying this was too hard to accept. The Lord did not force them to return or even further explain this teaching. He gave them the truth and let them decide for themselves.

I think part of the problem with people like us ( :wink: ) who love God and our faith, is we think that we can inspire others to fall in love with God and His Church by trying to reason with them, to talk them into it! Love doesn’t work that way.

In order to come to a place where you want to know your faith, you have to be drawn by the Holy Spirit, and He uses many means to do that, but He is the one who causes that spark, that unquenchable desire, we can’t.

But we can be doing our part by praying for them, by living holy lives as best we can in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, and by being prepared, so when we see them starting their journey back to Him, to step along side them and show the way.

The pressure really is not on us, except to pray, it’s the Holy Spirit’s mission to bring them home.

Be at Peace!

yeah, but :frowning: :confused:

we can’t just stand by and watch.
what about the good samaritan? sure my aunt isn’t laying on the side of the road, but i need to offer some kind of light to this issue.
we may be the only light some people ever get. the holy spirit uses many things to bring people home. sometimes it’s a bumper sticker and sometimes it’s you and me.

What I’m really trying to say, is that you are not supposed to be experiencing a high level of anxiety over this situation, the anxiety that places the burden on you to “save” someone. This will only lead to despair.

You cannot save anyone. You can help, first by praying. Let the Holy Spirit guide you. When we act on our own, without His guidance, we just screw everything up. Really we do. Your aunt is not completely oblivious to the Church’s teaching, is she? I mean, she is Catholic, right? And if so, she is obviously not concerned about what she is doing in accordance with the Church’s teaching. If you were to remind her, without the Holy Spirit being the one to inspire you, what do you think would be the result of that? Possibly a further hardening of her towards the Church. Possibly.

I’m just saying this. The Holy Spirit is the one who draws, who beckons the soul. Without Him, it is all for nothing. So our first action is always prayer. Prayer works, in that we are asking the Holy Spirit to become involved, to lead. And then we ask that He show us how and when He wants us to step up. And when He does ask you to step up, you will know it, without doubt, and without all the anxiety that you are currently feeling.

I’m not trying to discourage anyone from caring about what is going on around them. I’m saying God’s ways are not always our ways, and actually it really is the other way around. Our ways are very rarely God’s ways. We have to learn to trust Him and to trust that He will lead us properly and in His own perfect time. If you are feeling this urgency and feel it’s the Holy Spirit because you have been praying, then step up and say something. But let go of the anxiety and the feeling that you alone are responsible, that’s all.

Just breathe and be at peace. :wink:

Jeannette L. is right. I know it is difficult to feel like we’re just standing by and watching, but if we are fasting and praying then we aren’t ‘just’ standing by and watching, we’re doing the things God called us to do.

I know I cannot force a conversation to take place. If I am truly to be an instrument of God’s peace (yes, I keep the prayer of St. Francis in my mind frequently) then I must resist the desire/temptation to ‘create’ an evangelizing opportunity.

Those opportunites are the Lord’s to command and we are merely players. I have to remind myself to trust Him to have any topics raised at the appropriate times, because that means when they happen I can also trust that I would know how to respond! :slight_smile:

That’s the scarier part of evangelizing and apologizing, when you think of it. We (;)) don’t worry about the zeal and the love we have to share, we worry about saying the wrong thing, or the right thing the wrong way, and thus being responsible for turning people away from God rather than to Him.

As for your aunt, I empathize with what you’re feeling. My three siblings left the faith 20 years ago. What kills me is that they love their children so much, they are really good parents, and they’ve raised these children to love Jesus and the scriptures but they’ve denied their children receiving Him through the Eucharist and the sacrament of Reconciliaton. They didn’t even have the children baptized. :crying:

I’ve tried to appeal to them for the sake of the children but they have bought into the lie that neither water baptism or confessing to a priest is necessary for salvation and that the eucharist is symbolic not real, so they honestly don’t believe they are harming their children.

Your aunt doesn’t acknowledge she’s leading her son in the wrong direction so appealing to her on this matter won’t be fruitful. If you have a good relationship with your nephew then you might be able to appeal to him, otherwise, leave it in God’s hands. Good will come even from their mistakes, especially if you’re praying for that all along.

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