November 16, 2012

Catholic Evangelization Outreach / Peg McEvoy

We are missionaries at home and abroad

Are you a missionary? Most of us would answer that question with a resounding “no!”

We don’t go to foreign lands to proclaim the Gospel. That is something reserved for religious sisters and brothers, priests and some lay folks who join them, right?

Wrong!

We are missionaries through the simple fact of our baptism. It is increasingly challenging to find Christian truth, charity and love in the world. In many ways, our own culture has become a “mission territory.” Many people have heard the Gospel, but have no idea how it applies in “real” life.

We’ve just made it through an election cycle that brought to the forefront important topics that need to be directly enlightened by our faith. Regardless of who sits in the White House or Congress or the Statehouse, we Catholics need to reclaim our voice as faithful citizens. The Year of Faith provides us with the opportunity to move forward on this path.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis is focusing on the Vatican II document titled “Lumen Gentium” (“Light of Nations”) during this Year of Faith. It reminds us that “… the laity are called in a special way to make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through them can it become the salt of the Earth. Thus, every layman, in virtue of the very gifts bestowed upon him, is at the same time a witness and a living instrument of the mission of the Church itself ‘according to the measure of Christ’s bestowal.’ ”

We—the laity—are being called to bring Christ and his Church into every place and circumstance. We even have a special mission to make the Church present in those places where she cannot normally reach without us. It is our job to “season” our families, workplaces, recreational pursuits, political views and interactions with the truth of the Gospel.

Our Catholic faith provides so many rich and beautiful paths to draw us closer to Christ in both the good and bad times. Can we explain why we Catholics do what we do and believe what we believe?

The Year of Faith is calling all Catholics around the world to do just that. In “Porta Fidei,” Pope Benedict’s announcement of the Year of Faith, he says, “Faith is choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with him. This ‘standing with him’ points towards an understanding of the reasons for believing. Faith, precisely because it is a free act, also demands social responsibility for what one believes” ( 10.2).

You are the person—the missionary—called to be salt in the lives of those you encounter. Through prayer and the practice of the faith (Catholic spirituality), through learning the reasons for what we believe (catechesis), and through generous service to others, especially the poor (charity), we become the “witness and living instrument of the mission of the Church.”

A speaker I recently heard made a very simple but profound statement. “To do the work of the Church, it takes people.” I would add that it takes people of “action.”

What about your parish? Is it clear that the work of Christ—the work of the Church—takes people, time and resources? Do you respond? Do you encourage others to respond?

If you feel the tug to go deeper and be more active in your faith, you are not alone. Log on to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis Year of Faith web page at www.archindy.org/yearoffaith.

Act on that inspiration and gather with other parishioners to pray, learn and reach out to others.
 

(Peg McEvoy is archdiocesan associate director for Evangelization and Family Catechesis. For questions and/or help starting a parish evangelization team, contact her at pmcevoy@archindy.org.)

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