This week’s post is from a Sacred Heart staff member, Ms. Jennifer Williams
Catholics, in general, are reluctant to talk about their faith in the presence of others. Why? It is easy to talk about church issues and controversies or moral values but not about our relationship with Christ or about how we recognize God’s action in our lives. It seems socially ungracious to “talk religion” around the water cooler or on the golf course or at the swimming pool. Maybe some Catholics have grown up without clear knowledge of their beliefs, and therefore, feel inadequate to explain or defend the faith. Others may feel that religion is a private matter.
I get it. Really, I do. There was a time in my life, believe it or not, when I did everything I could to avoid making eye contact with anyone when I attended Mass. I thought, “If someone talks to me, I might be expected to share my faith.” My faith was between me and God. I was happy living my faith all by myself. Well, my friends, I was doing it all wrong.
In Matthew Chapter 28, Jesus gathered the disciples and gave them what is often called “the great commission,” to go into the world and make disciples of all nations. The words are similar in Mark (16:15-16) and in Luke (24:46-49). Jesus makes it clear that the church does not exist for its own sake. It has a mission, a purpose. It is up to us to fulfill this mission.
At the moment of our Baptism when we are anointed and joined to Christ’s mission as “priest, prophet, and king,” we are commissioned to join in the missionary spirit and work of the Church. With an understanding of our faith and the Eucharist as our spiritual food, we are formed as disciples and sent out beyond our doors to carry on the mission of Christ.
We Catholics need to move beyond our comfort zone and our habit of keeping our faith to ourselves. We are called to be more mission-driven, more willing to risk some degree of discomfort in order to further the message of Christ. Easier said than done, right? There are ordinary, simple ways to share our faith. Here is one way you can do it.
I am very excited about a new series that is being offered here at Sacred Heart. It is called Awakening Faith. Awakening Faith is geared towards Catholics who have drifted away from the Church and the practice of their faith. Life happens. Our list of priorities grows. Sometimes faith falls off the chart without us even realizing it. Or maybe someone feels let down by the Church, its leaders, or their fellow parishioners.
There are large numbers of people who, while not practicing any particular religion, are searching for some higher purpose, for something in which to believe. Our Catholic faith is a treasure that we are able to share with such seekers. Despite all of the Church’s problems, Catholicism continues to have an appeal to many people. This is true even of non-practicing
Catholics. While some want nothing more to do with the Church, the majority have just lost their connection with Catholicism. The faith still slumbers within them and may be reawakened. Research has found that at least one-third of inactive Catholics would like to reconnect with the Church but they are reluctant to make the first move. They are waiting for an invitation, for some sign that they will be welcomed.
We all know someone (a family member, friend, neighbor) whose faith has taken a back seat. Take one of the Awakening Faith postcards and give it to someone you know who fits this description. Words are not necessary. Simply hand the postcard to someone you know who has wandered away from the faith.
The purpose of extending an invitation to an inactive Catholic is not to fill the pews. It is simply to open doors, to let others know that our faith has made a positive difference in our lives, and that God’s love and saving grace are available to everyone. Above all, we share our faith because it is a gift entrusted to us by Jesus Christ. It is an act of faithful stewardship.
Pope Francis said, “Our Baptism makes us ‘missionary disciples’ within the communion of the Church. On the one hand, we never stop being disciples – learning, receiving. On the other hand, we are also called to the mission, to share what we have received, what we live.”
The Gospel reading for this week tells us of the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Let today be the start of our own public ministry. Make the first move. Invite someone to Awakening Faith at Sacred Heart. It can be simple and non-invasive. Your invitation to reconnect might be just what that person is waiting for.