Earlier today, I wrote about the first 3 parts of Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s approach to the New Evangelization. In case you missed it, here it is. Now, it’s time to tackle the next 3 parts.
“…but this Person, Jesus, tells us He is the truth. So, our mission has a substance, a content, and this twentieth anniversary of the Catechism, the approaching fiftieth anniversary of the Council, and the upcoming Year of Faith charge us to combat catechetical illiteracy.”
Our mission has content, and that is the Truth. Today catechetical illiteracy is running rampant in our Church. We don’t know what Truth is, let alone how to express it to others. If we do not have a firm grasp on the Truth, how can we expect to evangelize others? Just like evangelizing begins within each of our own hearts, spreading the Truth must begin in ourselves too.
I often hear from people how they were never taught this or that about our Faith while they were growing up. That’s a common result of decades of incomplete catechizing on behalf of our Church. However, that is no excuse for not to know what we believe as Christians! In his first letter, St. Peter commands us to “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason to believe” (1 Pt. 3:15). We need to know the Truth is we are going to evangelize! To blame our lack of knowledge on our parish priests or religious ed teachers is passing the buck. But fear not! It is never too late to start learning.
Start with the Bible, specifically the Gospels. Next, try the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Don’t own them? Read them for free at USCCB.org. Also, I would recommend any of the documents from Vatican II, specifically Lumen Gentium. Still need more? Here’s a book list that I find particularly helpful. Any of those would be a great place to go next.
Keep in mind that it’s not necessary to be an expert when evangelizing. “I don’t know” are the three words I say most often when I answer questions about the Faith; there are always questions that I don’t know the answers to. The important thing is that we are humble and honest when we don’t know something, and then find the answer.
“The missionary, the evangelist, must be a person of joy.”
Who wants to be a part of something that is no fun? There is this weird idea that you can either be Catholic or have fun. Sorry, Billy Joel, but the Saints laugh too, a lot (even the Pope laughs! Cardinal Dolan made him do so in this very speech). Anyone who thinks Catholics don’t have fun has clearly never been to Camp Gray (and why yes, that is me in the Notre Dame shirt!). I’ll let the Cardinal explain the rest of this one with the story he tells next
“A man dying of AIDS at the Gift of Peace Hospice, administered by the Missionaries of Charity in Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s Archdiocese of Washington, asked for baptism. When the priest asked for an expression of faith, the dying man whispered, “All I know is that I’m unhappy, and these sisters are very happy, even when I curse them and spit on them. Yesterday I finally asked them why they were so happy. They replied ‘Jesus.’ I want this Jesus so I can finally be happy. A genuine act of faith, right?
The New Evangelization is accomplished with a smile, not a frown.”
“The New Evangelization is about love.”
The YOUCAT (the Catechism re-written specifically high school and college students) defines love as “the free self-giving of the heart” (YC 402). When we evangelize, it should be out of love. The cross is the greatest example of love the world has ever known. So when we love, it’s supposed to hurt! But when we do it anyway and unite our inconvenience or our suffering with Christ, He transforms it into something so much more. In caring for those around us, we show them the love of Christ. And it is that love that changes souls. Never underestimate the power of that love.
Like what you’ve read? Don’t be afraid to comment! And don’t forget to sign up for email updates. Also, if you know people who this blog would benefit, share it with them! Thanks, and come back tomorrow for #7 from Cardinal Dolan’s speech.