On each of the next few Tuesdays, I’ll be sharing a guest post by my good friend Michael Marchand. They’re excerpted from his book, The E Word, which is a clear, concise, practical guide to the New Evangelization. Michael is now hosting live events and retreats based on the book. Find out more through his website.
Did you ever ask your dad for permission to do something only to get shot down? Most of us respond to such defeat by changing our target: we ask Mom. It only took a “Yes” from one or the other for us to feel justified in doing whatever it was we were hoping to do. But when both parents came back with the same response and the same instructions even when they were asked separately, we knew there was no chance of appeal.
Jesus very clearly tells us we’re supposed to evangelize, and his bride, the Church, tells us the exact same thing. She even uses stronger words than Him:
“The task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church.⦆ It is a task and mission which the vast and profound changes of present-day society make all the more urgent. Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize.” (Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi)
Don’t miss that last sentence: the Church exists to evangelize.
It’s not just one the things that the Church should do, it is THE thing she MUST do. If she exists to evangelize, if that is her deepest identity, then if she’s not evangelizing, there is no reason for the Church to exist.
If we are the Church, the body of Christ, then the mission of the Church is our mission. If the Church exists in order to evangelize, then that should be the very reason for our existence as well.
“No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.” (Pope John Paul II, Repemtoris Missio)
Far too often we look at evangelization as optional. We tell ourselves: “Those people who are good at evangelization should do that, that’s not really my gift, so God can’t expect me to do something that I’m not good at. He can’t really want me to do something I don’t like doing. Right?”
“All the Christian faithful…are bound by the general obligation…to work so that the divine message of salvation is made known and accepted by all persons everywhere in the world.” (Code of Canon Law, 225)
Did you catch that? Canon Law says “All the Christian faithful…”, not “those who are good at sharing their faith” or “people who love to evangelize”. No, the same obligation to preach the Gospel that was imposed on Paul (1 Corinthians 9:16), has been imposed on all of us.
Michael Marchand is the author of The E Word a fantastic resource on Catholic evangelization. The response to the book has been so positive, that Michael now also runs evangelization retreats based on it’s content at parishes and schools around the country. (Portions of this article were taken from The E Word.)
Michael is one the co-creators of ProjectYM, a Catholic Youth Ministry resource and popular collaborative blog. He’s also the guy behind ParishDesigner.com, PopeTweets, and ReigniteUganda.
(Image credit: TM01001)