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Practical Evangelization

Tools to equip and support your call to live out the New Evangelization in your home, workplace, and community. These are boots-on-the-ground tested resources that we know have helped Catholics like you more effectively share their faith with family and friends. 

The Role of Sacramentals in Evangelization

Posted in Practical Evangelization

Sacramentals are a part of most Catholics’ prayer lives.  Before we jump to how to use sacramentals to evangelize, we need to understand what they are.  A quick review on the difference between sacraments and sacramentals...

Sacraments

Sacraments are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in the Church (CCC 1116). These actions are a visible symbol of invisible reality, signs that communicate the grace they signify (CCC 1127). God speaks to us through his visible creation and is incarnate (made flesh) in the visible world.  

Christ used physical signs and symbolic gestures as a visual means to help those he was healing understand the invisible reality. He used spit and clay to heal the man born blind (John 9:1-12), healed the deaf man by placing his finger in his ear, spitting and touching his tongue (Mark 7:31-37) and by spitting on the blind man’s eyes and laying his hands on him (Mark 8:22-26).

God, who created us body and soul, communicates his truth to us not only through ideas and words, but through sensible signs as well.

Sacramentals

Sacramentals, on the other hand are objects intended to strengthen our faith by reminding us of God’s presence in our lives and calling us to prayer.   They are different than the sacraments in that they are instituted by the Church versus sacraments which originate in Christ.  

Forming Missionary Disciples

Posted in Practical Evangelization

"Discipleship" is often a buzzword in the church - used in numerous contexts and for varying purposes.  For our purposes, discipleship is an active response to a relationship with Christ.  Discipleship is active. It happens on purpose.  Author of the book Forming Intentional Disciples, Sherry Weddell, said, "You don't do [discipleship] accidentally; you don't do it in your sleep." 

Relationship is at the heart of discipleship 

This means that it is not a pyramid or mountain of perfection to climb.    It is a journey of growing - of knowing, loving, and serving Jesus, His Church, and one another more and more deeply.     

The USCCB has outlined a four step methodology for helping people to grow on their discipleship journey.  This Encounter, Accompaniment, Community, Mission methodology is outlined in the USCCB document Living as Missionary Disciples: A Resource for Evangelization. While not exhaustive, this resource includes some good reflections on each of the four areas of evangelization methodology.

We have provided some of our own reflections on what each of these moments on the discipleship journey might look like - both in your personal life and your parish.  You can access these reflections by click on the (+) next to each movement.   

Talking Turkey (and Jesus) at Thanksgiving

Posted in Practical Evangelization

Fr. Dan Beeman, a priest and pastor from Norfolk, VA took to Twitter recently to share about how to navigate conversations about faith and spirituality at your Thanksgiving gatherings.

Sometimes we feel like our family and friends can get "sick" of hearing us talk about our faith.  Even the most open-minded, prayerful, and loving comments we make and stories we share can be perceived as judgement and lecture.  Just mentioning the slightest thing about spirituality and faith seems to cause certain family members to shut down or roll their eyes.  We, in turn, find ourselves getting defensive and avoiding the topic completely - often feeling like we can't be authentic and true to ourselves.  It's a vicious cycle of judgement, defensiveness, and silence that leads to cultural maxims like:  "We just don't talk about religion here."  

Fr. Beeman's suggestions are great if you don't have anyone actively hostile or defensive (on either side of the faith discussion) sitting at your Thanksgiving table.  But what can you do if you feel like anything you say related to faith and spirituality is outright ignored, causes anger, inflates tension beyond bearable levels, or is openly mocked?

Fr Dan Beeman thanksgiving tweet

Living the Faith: Send

Posted in Practical Evangelization

Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize, that is to say, in order to preach and teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace, to reconcile sinners with God, and to perpetuate Christ’s sacrifice in the Mass, which is the memorial of His death and glorious resurrection.” Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14

The commitment to living the Christian life is an essential element of the culture of witness. We witness to the Christian life through living out our respective vocations. As St. Peter tells us, we must “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone
who asks . . . for a reason for [our] hope” (1 Pt 3:15). We should be looking for ways to share with others the way we have experienced the salvific love of Jesus Christ. As Bl. Paul VI said, “In the long run, is there any other way of handing on the Gospel than by transmitting to another person one’s personal experience of faith?”

Living the Faith: Community

Posted in Practical Evangelization

 

“The faithful are fed by Christ's holy body and blood to grow in the communion of the Holy Spirit (koinonia) and to communicate it to the world.” (CCC, 948).

 

The Church in the United States is a community of faith that is composed of members of many different cultures. Respect, understanding, and openness to this diversity is key to assisting all in having a personal encounter with Christ and growing as missionary disciples.

Koinonia: A Deeper Understanding of Community

When we talk about community and fellowship in a context of missionary discipleship, we mean more than simply an assembly of like persons who share a belief system and who mutually affirm each other.   No, the kind of community we are seeking goes much deeper - depicings an interactive relationship between God and believers who are sharing new life through Christ.

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