April 28, 2007

GROWING THE CHURCH: Secrets of Evangelization

With minor adjustments, here is a comment I left on Amy Welborn’s blog concerning a major discussion going on in the cyberparish of St. Blog.
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John 1:1,14,16,17b
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
full of grace and truth;
we have beheld his glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father.
And from his fullness have we all received,
grace upon grace.
Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Evangelization— that word has as its root the Greek word for "message". The message is the Word that was in the beginning, that was with God, and is God. The Word is "full of grace and truth."

When we carry the message, that is, when we evangelize, we must be full of grace and truth. Each of us must also be a "word"— and a word that is "full of grace and truth". However, as personified "words" (words made flesh) each of us must first be "full" of grace and truth, otherwise our spoken words— and evangelization— are "empty of grace and truth". Then our evangelization is but "a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal" (see 1Corinthians 13:1).

The Missionaries of Charity (founded by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta)— how do they "evangelize" and thus convert so many to join their ranks? Their “secret” method is two-fold. Yes, they "evangelize" publicly by practicing the Corporal Works of Mercy. However, the other half of their evangelization is not so public, and it empowers the more public half: they keep the daily hours of liturgical prayer in common, personal prayer in private, spiritual reading, and Eucharistic adoration, all spelled out in their constitutions as a religious order.

The apostles themselves knew that two-fold "secret".

Acts 6
“But we [the twelve] will devote ourselves
to PRAYER and to the ministry of the WORD."
And what they said pleased the whole multitude....
And the word of God INCREASED;
and the number of the disciples
MULTIPLIED GREATLY in Jerusalem,
and a GREAT MANY of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Finally, there is the example of Jesus himself. First, he spent about thirty years in the silent seminary of his hidden life. Then, second, he spent no more than three years in public evangelization that changed everything. Not the second without the first.
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Amy Welborn’s post has links to the major venues of the St. Blog discussion regarding “Evangelical Catholicism”.
Click HERE for it.

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