Thursday, June 17, 2010

I’ve never seen Catholics evangelize!

By Eric Sammons at The Divine Life

Last night I had the fortune of meeting Msgr. Charles Pope, pastor of Holy Comforter/St. Cyprian church in downtown Washington, D.C., and über-blogger for the Archdiocese of Washington. He was holding a meeting at his parish to plan for a major door-to-door evangelization campaign his parish will be conducting this Fall. I was invited to share my own experiences of going door-to-door. In many ways, I was there to smash the many “myths” that have cropped up around going door-to-door. Here are a few:

1) You will be yelled at and attacked.

I have organized going door-to-door to over 2,000 homes in the past four years, and we only had a single instance of someone yelling at us. The vast majority of people are polite, even if they are not interested. But even if someone did yell at you, why should that stop you? Our Lord told us that we are blessed when people persecute us in his name, so being yelled at while sharing the Gospel is a wonderful blessing.

2) Catholics don’t go door-to-door; only Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses do that.

Quite often people who meet us when we are out evangelizing are shocked to hear we are Catholic. They expect us to be either Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses. We have even heard people exclaim “I’ve never seen Catholics evangelize!” What a sad commentary. Our Lord told his followers to go to all the nations preaching the Gospel, so all Catholics are obligated to evangelize in some way – and door-to-door evangelization is a great way to follow Christ’s command. Door-to-door evangelization has gotten a bad name, and this is mostly due to the aggressive tactics of Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, who often browbeat those they meet in their attempt to make converts. But that does not have to be the only way to go door-to-door. In my experience, Catholics take a much more subdued approach. We go simply to share with others about our parish and the blessings we have received there. We have been given a great gift and we are letting others know about it.

3) I don’t need to go door-to-door; I evangelize without using words.

When people are looking for excuses not to go door-to-door, they often remark that the best evangelization is “without words” and that is how they evangelize so they don’t need to preach with words. I’ve addressed that canard here. It is very important to evangelize with our whole lives, including our actions, but it is a false dichotomy to say that we should only do one method. The assumption of the Christian life is that we evangelize with our actions; we also need to evangelize with words....

    1 comment:

    Rachel said...

    I go to a big parish where there are five daily Masses, some of them drawing more than a hundred people. Thousands go to the ten Sunday Masses. It all started from scratch a few decades ago, and I think the huge growth rate is due partly to our priests going door to door throughout the parish, asking "Are you Catholic?" and inviting people to Mass, offering to baptize the babies and giving cohabiting couples a chance to marry in the church. They also ask the Catholics if they need to go to Confession, and believe it or not, a very large proportion of them say yes and make their confession in their own homes right then and there! This is a very Hispanic neighborhood and I think they're better catechized about the need to be in a state of grace. One thing's for sure-- we have awesome priests.