Short answer: Yes!
Immediate follow-up question: How?
I’ve been reading many articles recently that mention or talk in-depth about the New Evangelization. I’ve listened to podcasts and radio shows that discuss how to be a part of it. I’ve come to the understanding that it essentially means re-converting Catholics who aren’t practicing their faith. (Or catechizing Catholics who are going to Mass, but misunderstand the Church’s teachings.)
As I do dishes and laundry, I wonder what my part is in all this. I’d like to help bring back a fallen-away Catholic…somehow. But weeks go by, and then another article or radio show reminds be that I should be doing…something.
After searching the web and re-reading some articles, I did find some answers to my two questions:
How can I, a busy Mom of four boys under six, be a part of the New Evangelizaion and bring more souls to the Catholic Church?
What are some concrete ideas for leading someone back to the faith when my time outside my home is very limited?
1. Stay focused on nurturing my domestic Church and teaching my own children the Faith. This is my most important duty as a parent and it deserves top priority. It is so easy for me to forget how much I am actually doing to give the Church strong, faithful Catholics, when I feel like most of my time is spent doing never-ending chores. But then I remember: in reality, most of my day is discipling and teaching my children. Modeling my own love of God is another huge part of my responsibility. Which leads to:
2. Pray – every day. One of the first questions in the examination of conscience for married couples on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website is “Have I prayed every day (15-20 minutes)?” I found the suggested amount of time interesting because 15-20 minutes must be considered the minimum amount of prayer a married person should be able to do. Finding time for daily prayer is one of my mini-goals for February, so I’m excited that this lines up with what is already planned for next month.
3. “Spread the gift of faith through example and friendship,” says Philip Lawler, in his book When Faith Goes Viral: 11 Success Stories of the New Evangelization from Alabama to Vladivostok. Lawler explains that when we pray for our family, friends and neighbors, we should be considering if any of them might be open to becoming Catholic. If someone comes to mind, we deepen the friendship with them a little more, and eventually ask sincerely and respectfully, “Have you ever thought of becoming a Catholic?” Be open to the guidance of the Holy Ghost for the right time to ask that question (hopefully to many people) throughout your lifetime. If your friend is a fallen-away Catholic, then it is good to know that one study found that 90% of fallen-away Catholics that returned to the Church said that they were “just waiting for an invitation to come back.”
4. Talk about the faith with non-Catholic family members, friends, and neighbors with joy, and practice what you preach. What I mean here is that we need to talk positively about how we live our lives as Catholics. If our neighbors hear us complain too frequently about the annoyances of having lots of kids, or about having to go to give up something for Lent, then they might wonder why on earth you are even Catholic. You could miss an opportunity to spread the faith. Also, we should set a good example by not swearing or telling (or even laughing at) impure jokes. When the neighbors instinctively apologize for swearing, I take that as a compliment.
5. Invite family, friends, and neighbors to our home. Let them see an example of a happy, solid, Catholic family life. It’s easy to take for granted how appealing a faith-filled life is to those who don’t have faith in their lives at all.
6. Intentionally welcome new-comers to our Chapel. The Brothers and Sisters at the Chapel my family attends are great examples of this. If there is a new couple, someone approaches them, welcomes them, and introduces them to other families that are in a similar phase of family life (all little ones, all in high school, etc.) I’m usually introduced to the new-comers by the religious, but taking the initiative and breaking the ice is something I can definitely try to imitate in the future. Here is a quote from an article by Fr. Paul Soper found in the December 2013 Station of the Cross Newsletter that is very helpful:
Our Parish Evangelizers [you can think of yourself as one for the moment] need to learn to exercise radical hospitality. They need to learn to greet people as they come in to Church. They need to learn to intentionally welcome people they don’t know. They need to take on a new identity – when they come to Mass, they need to think not just about what they gain in coming, but also about how they might change the life of someone else who may be just coming back, and for whom they themselves might be the first face of the Church for a person who has been away for decades.
In summary: I need to focus on imparting the faith to my children, pray every day, be hospitable to all, and be open to the promptings of the Holy Ghost so that I am ready and willing to invite someone back to the Church by asking,
Have you ever thought of becoming a Catholic?
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