In early November, the Saint Joseph Province of the Dominican Order held a Congress for the Lay Fraternities of Saint Dominic. (That’s our official title as Lay Dominicans.) It was a spiritually enriching experience to go to the Congress, and I was blessed to be able to hear several amazing speakers, including the Master General of the Dominican Order, Father Bruno Cadoré. I’ll be sharing my notes from the Congress each Sunday for a few weeks. To find the entire list, look for the “Notes from Congress” category on the sidebar.
Please keep in mind that these are my notes, and that I did my best to write everything down correctly. If there are holes or mistakes, consider them mine. I will do my best to faithfully represent the talks that I heard. If you were there (or are one of the speakers!) and see a mistake in my posts, please comment so that we can clear up any misunderstandings I have or misrepresentations I might have made. (Unless I use quotation marks, consider the words you read to be my summary of the talk given. Direct quotes that I was able to put down will be in quotation marks.)
The last time I wrote, I featured Dr. Ralph Martin’s discussion on the urgency of the new evangelization. This week, I’m featuring Mr. Caleb Payne, OP, who discussed evangelization in everyday life.
For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:13-15)
Evangelism is more than putting up a sign outside your church. It’s no less than leading others to a personal relationship with Jesus!
God does not change — we do. This means that conversion can be painful. We have to let go daily of everything that holds us back fom a relationship with God. So when we call people to conversion, it’s a call to a life of sacrifice.
BUT … it’s also a life of love and happiness. When we call people to conversion, we have to be honest about the sacrifice. To hold back the truth in love, even if the truth causes some discomfort or pain, is not mercy. Conversion is a work of healing, so we must pray to the Divine Healer. We might desire to heal and to alleviate someone’s suffering, but we can’t always do that, so we must help people suffer well. We have to help them suffer with hope and joy. We have to be a People of the Eucharist.
Jesus, the God-Man, gives us nothing less than all of Himself. We are called to give all of ourselves in return — to be wholly God’s. We must be consumed by Him and formed by His likeness. Through this, we become bread for the world. Evangelism is about consumption: God consumes us. Our service consumes us.And when we evangelize, we see and love in others the face of Jesus.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The Greek root for “witness” is also the word for “martyr”. Our faith is worth dying for. It’s also worth living for — to permeate every aspect of our lives. People need to see this in how we live. The first step in showing this is friendship. The Bible says that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend. The more we become like Christ, the more He will use us to save souls. When we evangelize, we are telling people, “I want to be friends with you forever in Heaven, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.”
We should pray for the Holy Spirit to use our weaknesses to the glory of God. It’s okay that we feel weak when we think of the task of evangelization. God can/must/will help us!
The Saint Paul Street Evangelization Ministries fits well with the Dominican apostolate of preaching the Gospel for the salvation of souls. It makes a bridge of trust with the community. They go out into communities and witness to people about the Catholic faith.
The goals of the St. Paul Street Evangelization are simple. First, is to listen to people, then befriend them. Once you’ve established a friendship, proclaim the Gospel and invite people to a relationship with Jesus for their salvation. The teams go out with pamphlets and Rosaries, and they start with prayer. On the streets, they will maintain peaceful prayer and be open to people asking questions. The prayer teams are there, and they allow people to come to them. They are there to plant seeds, and it’s up to God to make the seeds grow.
More than anything else, they are there to listen. They must first gain the respect to be heard, then learn what the person who’s talking to them is hungry for. They offer to pray with people, and then they offer them the Catholic Faith. There is online training available, even if you don’t wish to join, and St. Paul Street Evangelization has a presence on both Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you for reading along this week. Next week, I’ll be writing about Dr. Karen Phelailos, OP, and her presentation on evangelizing the innkeepers of your life.