Linus, Charlie Brown’s best friend from the long-running “Peanuts” cartoon strip once said, “There are three things I’ve learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.” While I can’t comment on the politics or the Great Pumpkin, I can certainly understand why we might not want to talk about religion. People have had all sorts of experiences with religion, and “evangelization” still feels pretty taboo for us Catholics. It’s not something we’re taught from a young age, let alone something that we can get comfortable with overnight.
But as we work through less obvious ways of evangelization in our Sunday messages and start talking about our faith more and more, we get deeper and deeper into the learning zone and further and further from the panic zone.
If you’re still looking for small ways to get evangelization going, don’t worry! There are so many ways to share your faith. Try putting a quote from your favorite saint or other religious inspiration into your email signature or putting your favorite Bible verse into a social media bio. It might inspire someone to research that saint or religious person or to look up the verse. Or, try wearing a piece of religious jewelry — a crucifix or a rosary bracelet (guys, you can do this too!).
If you’ve already found your one thing (and hopefully more than one thing) and have been working on sharing your faith in casual conversation, try really hard to keep it up! Maintenance of your newly-minted practices will take some time, and that’s okay.
Many people say that they avoid evangelization because it feels overbearing or pushy to talk about religion; they’re worried about offending someone or giving someone the wrong impression. But the little actions we’ve been talking about and the causal mentions of our faith in everyday conversations are so important because they mark you as a person that people can feel comfortable with asking their faith questions.
For people who’ve fallen away from a faith, they probably want to know why you stayed (if it’s the same faith as theirs) and might have questions about how the faith has changed since they practiced (if it’s changed; or, they might not be aware of any changes, so the things you share might spark questions for them). For someone of a different faith, they might have questions about the details of your faith. For someone who only knows about Catholicism from the news media, they might have a lot of tough questions about the culture of Catholicism.
In any case, answer as honestly and truthfully as you can. That includes not making it up if you don’t know the answer. If someone asks a question you can’t really respond to, ask a friend or look it up online. Bring the question to church and ask a priest or nun or other religious person; chances are, everyone will learn something in the process.
If you remember anything, make it this: evangelize much, often, and always. Make yourself someone that people can bring the tough questions to, and answer those questions as best you can. Ask prayerfully for guidance whenever possible, and keep going!
--Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
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