May 16, 2014

Catholic Evangelization Outreach / Peg McEvoy

Turn to Mary, Star of Evangelization

Peg McEvoyIt is May—a month that begins with the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, virtuous spouse of Mary and provider for the Holy Family, and ends with the feast of the Visitation of Mary. Throughout the month, there are May crownings and celebrations of Mary. May is Mary’s month!

Did you know Mary is called “Star of Evangelization?” There are a number of reasons for this title, all of which help unlock our roles as disciple and evangelizer.

First, we see Mary’s critical and history-changing “yes” to God in her acceptance of Jesus’ Incarnation. She trusted God, but still wondered “how could this be?”

Our sense of wonder is also peaked by evangelization. How can this really happen with just us—average, normal people? Mary’s trust was more pure than ours could ever be on this side of heaven, but Jesus left us the Church guided by the Holy Spirit to animate us, and his mother to encourage and intercede for us in the great work of evangelization.

Second, we know that Mary didn’t stay put after her “yes.” She took the message “on the road” to her cousin Elizabeth’s home, and literally made Jesus present there. Her great prayer, the Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55), illustrates the attitude that we must also have when sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is an attitude of wonder, trust and confidence in God’s grace. The visitation reminds us of the need to “go out” from our comfort zones to help others encounter Jesus.

Third, we know that Mary can and will intercede for us, especially when we ask for help sharing the faith. Just as any earthly mother wishes to help her children and will do what she can toward that end, so does Mary. We ask for her prayers with confidence in her place in heaven. Mary knows the difficulties of carrying Jesus and his message, and we know that she will help us and those we serve to know Jesus better. We simply need to ask, and pray and do the work God calls us to do.

Through Mary’s role in the Incarnation, she has always participated in the mission of Jesus. She never wavered in her devotion to Jesus even when standing at the foot of the Cross. In the work of evangelization, there are occasionally situations that cause suffering for us—rejection, disrespect, maybe even ridicule. But as Jesus’ disciples, we know that he will lead us and those we evangelize through the suffering to resurrection.

So what should a parish evangelization team (whatever form it takes) do? Pray! Ask Mary, Star of Evangelization, to pray for you and your efforts to serve all people in your parish territory.

Pray together with sacred Scripture asking for guidance on the practical, hands-on things you can do to share the Gospel.

Look to the teachings of the Church for guidance.

Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”) provides much encouragement and challenges us as we move forward with our evangelization efforts.

The last section of it talks about Mary and her role in helping us understand evangelization, and ends with a beautiful prayer asking Mary’s help. The second half of the prayer (below) highlights our duty to witness the Gospel in the world. May this always be our prayer!

Star of the new evangelization,
help us to bear radiant witness to communion,
service, ardent and generous faith,
justice and love of the poor,
that the joy of the Gospel
may reach to the ends of the Earth,
illuminating even the fringes of our world.
Mother of the living Gospel,
wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones,
pray for us.
Amen. Alleluia! (EG, #288)
 

(Peg McEvoy is the associate director for evangelization and family catechesis of the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education. For questions and/or help starting a parish evangelization team, contact Peg at pmcevoy@archindy.org.)

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