and ask a friend to tag along

As a ‘cradle Catholic’ I have little understanding of the emotional and spiritual upheaval that must occur when converting to Catholicism. I must admit that I hold any and all who have come into the Catholic faith from another with a bucketful of awe, mixed with a large measure of gratitude. In awe, for their courage, strength, and willingness to open their hearts and minds to new and sometimes difficult beliefs while letting go of that which has offered them security and sustenance for so many years. I feel great gratitude for their uplifting presence, steadfast devotion, and fervent participation in their new, and our collective church community.

In many ways, I often feel less Catholic than they because they seem to live their faith more fully, more completely, more openly. And yet I know, from firsthand accounts, of the difficulties that many have encountered as they traveled their conversion journey. Families have often been deeply divided; some have been ostracized and shunned by parents, families, and friends. And yet, they have persisted and have become full and active members of the Catholic faith.

Most of us can recall a time when someone came to our door and asked “Have you been saved?” This doorstep evangelization is seldom appreciated and most Catholics would shudder at the thought of being asked to do such a thing. It simply isn’t the Catholic way. But if not, then what is?

Bishop David Ricken, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis writes “Evangelization is the Church’s deepest identity. Evangelization brings the good news of the Gospel to all who seek the life-giving message of faith in Jesus Christ. … The Church is missionary by her very nature. Her mission is to proclaim the salvation of Christ to the ends of the earth. … Each one of us in virtue of our baptism is called to live our faith and to bear witness to the Gospel in our families, friends, parish communities and society.”

That old saying “If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and walks like a duck, then it must be a duck” definitely comes to mind. Words like “evangelization” and “missionary” and “bear witness” definitely have that doorstep feeling to them.

But before we all have an apocalyptic fit, let’s all take a deep breath. Read that last sentence again. “Each one of us in virtue of our baptism is called to live our faith and to bear witness to the Gospel …”

We aren’t asked to knock on doors; we are called to live our faith. “By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit” [Mt 7:16-18]. We are called to live our faith fully, completely, and openly.

When we live our faith we proclaim, to all those around us, the good news of the Gospel; we evangelize; we become missionaries proclaiming the salvation of Jesus Christ. It takes courage to ‘Live Catholic’, but not nearly as much as those who have made the journey into a new faith in Christ. So why not ‘Live Catholic’ and ask a friend to tag along.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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