I don't know how to evangelize

I volunteer a few days a week in a place in a community center. My colleagues are very “tolerant” and “socialistic” and I am always open about the fact that I am a practicing catholic. In the spirit of tolerance they always praise me for my volunteering within the church. I thought it would be good to be “tolerant” as well.

One of my colleagues approached me and said: Did you hear the good news, Elizabeth will be a mom soon! Her girlfriend is pregnant! I sort of answered her enthusiasm by showing my interest.

Initially they answered my open minded attitude by bringing up things like, you know I would always go to confession when I was young, and in a very gentle way I made use of the opportunity by saying: You know most people don’t know how great the healing effect of confession is. I met so many people who really started a new life!
Now I feel that they actually are not interested in that, I feel a little like I ‘betrayed’ my faith and that it was an illusion to think that I always have to be nice and tolerant.
When people really cross the line and say something negative about the pope, I definitely defend my faith but I wish I could find a way to defend my faith without having the feeling that I have to be nice and gentle towards everything and everyone.
I guess the problem here is also that I am rather shy and uncertain about myself in general.

Also, next week my colleagues girlfriend is giving birth. I imagine that they ask me to write my name on the card and donate money and when she comes in the office saying congratulation. Could someone please shed some light on this? thanks

There is nothing wrong with being nice and gentle. It can work wonders versus the alternative of being rude or harsh. All you need to be is honest. You don’t need to be confrontational, just honest.

I do find the notion of “tolerance” to be a problem. Personally I have never liked the word. I can “tolerate” having my tooth filled as it is a needed treatment, but “tolerating” people falls short of love. Love is not a mushy sentiment, it is an honest way to live life in the truth of God’s light. This can mean you can tell a person you might understand how they feel but you don’t agree with what they are doing or how they are acting.

In the problem you presented you could just say you hope that the pregnancy goes well for everyone’s well being and leave things there. But if someone asks you directly about gay unions you could say that as a Catholic you can’t agree with it and simply believe that those who are gay or homosexual are called to a life of celibacy. We as Christians need to realize that the causes and factors involved in homosexuality are more complex than most of us have any business trying to assess. Leave that to those with a better understanding of the biophysical and psychological aspects of this.

I am actually a little amazed at how often this seems to come up in the work place. I have been in the employment world for decades and have seldom if ever heard of people talking about it so much. Most places, people seem to keep pretty silent on the matter. So, I often wonder, how does the subject get approached so often for others?

I don’t think there is anything wrong with being supportive about the baby. So, I think giving some money and signing the card is ok. After all, the baby didn’t choose to be conceived.

Evangelization is difficult. Knowing what to say in our present day culture of sin and death is difficult. Don’t beat yourself up too hard. All you can do is ask Our Lord to give you the right words. When I make a mistake defending my faith, I think about St. Peter and his three denials! Our Lord is so merciful to us! He loves us so much!

JMR

Thanks for your answer. I think you are right about that it is actually not a bad thing to be careful and gentle when we approach people. I don’t want to give my colleagues the feeling that it is my "task’ to convert them or that I’m going to lecture them in what is moral or not. But I think there is always a risk that we become like chameleons, that if we can sympathy with a person and that person for example tells us full of passion how great it is that they are going to have a homosexual marriage, or do other things that is immoral that we are afraid to react in a neutral way instead of feeding their enthusiasm.
I was thinking that sometimes, we don’t always need to say anything. I mean would it be wrong just to say oh, OK if we really don’t have a wise word.
But what about when they are going to ask me to donate money to buy a present for the colleague? Or if they ask me to join them to the babyshower. It is not easy if you are the only one who want to be faithful to the Truth. It happens that I live in one of the most secular countries you see. That might be the reason why this subject comes up more often than in your workplace.

Thanks JMR, I hadn’t seen your message yet.

Agree. Just live the gospel.

I think it is too hard on ourselves to fight a pitched battle over every wrong we see – we usually don’t do that.

Jesus said that no one can come to him unless the Father calls him/her. So, be Christian and celebrate the birth. Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. If it is known that you are Catholic, that itself is a continuing witness to your faith and is a form of teaching.

Many people heard Jesus himself and turned away from him. Don’t be surprised if people turn away from you.

I often show consideration to people who show none to me; there’s no standard for my generosity.

I (a white man) was riding the commuter train into Chicago one morning, many years ago, and sitting. When this black lady came on the train, I immediately volunteered my seat to her and changed her blank countenance to one of happiness. Sometimes it costs nothing to make a positive impact on others.

I was having lunch in downtown chicago, and the waitress mentioned she was getting married in a civil ceremony in a couple hours. I gave her $20 to pay for her marriage license. I needed to share her joy and show her some kindness. Who know what effect that may have had on her, maybe to change her life in some small positive way, perhaps.

As it says in Ecclesiastes, cast your bread upon the water.

thanks again for shedding some light on this.

Because matters of the soul, including moral issues are the most intimate ones we have…evangelism has to rest of friendship.

This doesn’t mean that people who hold diametric ideas and views from us need to be our best friends, but we need to be sincere friends with them before even substantial conversations can occur, let alone supernatural ones. If we stay at the superficial level there will be no evangelization.

Meanwhile…until the Holy Spirit gives us time and opportunity for friendship and supernatural conversation, we can live the quiet heroic life of virtue at work.

We can strive to be naturally and consistently cheerful at work, especially when the demands of the job are very difficult.

We can work in a most professional way, staying very current in our field, learning about the boundaries of our work, practicing our skills, finishing off our work even when tired, helping others do their work as appropriate, without drawing attention to ourselves.

We can simply and quietly move back on to work, say during a break when conversations might have gone off into morally repugnant areas. No preaching…just fade away cheerfully and get back to work, almost invisibly. Others will sense the limits you have, and will adjust.

But always cheerful, never complaining. Shouldering your work cheerfully, as a child of God.

Praying and offering work for their intentions,

Dear moonlight87,
Thanks for posting your dilemma and thanks to the members who answered. These are challenging times and we all have difficulties like this, so it helps to see what ideas others have to address these problems. I have a lot to learn from case histories like this and I appreciate being able to read them and ask questions – hopefully get an answer or two.

You made this one post and in the first day got several good replies. That’s great!
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