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A Quick Guide for Personal Evangelization

 

One of the most important aspects of being a Christian is sharing the knowledge and truth of Jesus Christ and His Church. Here are some important tips to help you succeed as a Catholic evangelist.

1. Personal Holiness: In order to properly share the love and peace of Christ with others, you must first have that love and peace yourself. After all, you cannot give what you do not have. Therefore, it is critical for the evangelist to have a deep devotion and love for God. When you strive for holiness and spiritual perfection in your own life, it becomes apparent to others and they will be drawn to Christ through you. True Catholic Christians radiate a sense of peace and joy, which comes from the grace received in the proper reception of the sacraments.

Commit yourself to a life of daily prayer, receive the sacraments in a worthy manner, read the Scriptures daily or at least frequently, and turn away from sin. It may also be useful to periodically read the writings of the Saints. The lives of the Saints can inspire you to serve God faithfully and with zeal.

The grace we receive from worthy reception of the sacraments is infinite. But the operation of that grace in our lives is limited by the degree to which we are in submission to God. He wants all of us, all of the time, not just part of us, some of the time. Proper reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist is the key to holiness. Before you go to confession, go before Jesus in the tabernacle and ask him to show you your soul. Then be quiet and listen. If you are sincere, He will show you the darkest corners of your soul. He will reveal to you the sins that you have been afraid to admit because of fear or pride. Only then can we make a proper confession. We cannot hide from Jesus and must not try. Our self-preservation instinct can be a hindrance when we try to protect ourselves from the All-Knowing. It has been said that Padre Pio could smell the corruption in a person’s soul. Imagine how your soul must look to God who loves with an endless love. Jesus can and will heal us and take away our shame.

When we strive to live a holy life, God will lead people to us. Then and then only will the Holy Spirit be able to evangelize through us.

2. Charity: The Apostle Paul said that every action must be done with love (1 Cor 16:14). Evangelizing is certainly no exception. Your goal is not to win arguments, but to proclaim the truth with love. Since God is love, it is hypocritical to share the Gospel without love.

3. Knowledge: Holiness and charity will certainly go a long way, but eventually your knowledge of God will be necessary to properly share the faith. To fulfill this requirement, constant study is required. This includes frequent reading of Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, writings from the Popes, and solid Catholic books. It is also important to read books written by non-Catholics. This will enable you to understand their perspective and learn their arguments for embracing their particular beliefs.

4. Understand your role: Keep in mind that you cannot convert anyone, that is up to God and the person with whom you are sharing the faith. Your role is to present the truth of the Catholic faith with love and clarity. The Apostle Paul said in 1 Cor 3:7, “Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters in anything, but only God who causes the growth.” You must remain focused on the role of planting the seeds. You may not be around to see if that seed grows, but you know that you have done your job if you explain the faith clearly and with love. The rest is up to the Holy Spirit.

5. Control your expectations: Do not expect instant results. Conversion usually takes a long time. All that you can hope for is that you have planted a small seed that may bear fruit in the future. If you simply correct one misunderstanding or make one good point, then you have succeeded.    

6. Don't pretend to know something that you don’t: If you are asked a question you do not know the answer to, honestly admit it and tell the person that you will have to get back with them. Most of the time, your ignorance of a subject stands out easily if you try and squirm your way to an answer. This can be damaging to your cause since most people will tend to remember only the “squirming” and forget about the good points you made during the conversation.

7. Equal Time: Typically, Catholics are forced to defend so many beliefs that there remains no time to ask the non-Catholic questions. Make sure you keep this from happening by diving the time equally and asking your own questions. It is also a good idea to stick with one thought or point at a time, making certain that your listener has a correct understanding. Never quarrel with a closed mind.

8. Mark up your Bible: No, it is not sacrilegious to write in your Bible. By highlighting verses and writing notes in the margin, you can save precious time finding key passages. You may also find it useful to keep a piece of paper in your Bible listing all the important passages for certain topics.     

9. Realize the truth will always be attacked: It is a sad reality, but it is true. Because of this reality, the world is full of anti-Catholic people and literature. Catholicism is like no other faith in the world. While it is just about impossible to find anti-Presbyterian organizations or anti-Fundamentalists organizations, it is not difficult to find anti-Catholic organizations. Don’t be discouraged when you encounter this situation. Evangelizing is not for those who have thin skin. Jesus was attacked, so why would we expect anything different. In fact, Jesus promised that we would be hated by the world (John 15:18-19). The fact that Catholicism is so widely attacked is just additional proof that Catholicism is true. One thing is for certain; when you take a stand for Catholicism, brace yourself for a bumpy ride.

10. Learn from your experiences: After sharing the faith with someone take a moment to reflect on the conversation. Think of the things you said that might have been inappropriate or incomplete. Commit yourself to study these things so that if the same things happen in the future, you will be better prepared to handle them. Thank God for the opportunity to share his love and truth with someone. Most importantly, take the time to pray for that person.

 

© 2004 – Victor R. Claveau

 

Part or all of this article may be reproduced without obtaining permission as long as the author is cited.

 

Evangelization is necessary for salvation."

-Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1816.

 

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