Evangelization Requires Authentic Catholicism
Just as the apostles were sent by Our Lord to make disciples of all nations, we too are called to share the good news with those around us. At a time when the world groans from countless assaults against what is true and good, we often find an ineffective witness given by people of faith. Far from authentically living their faith, many Catholics instead choose the lies of the world over the Gospel truth. In the end, lukewarm Catholicism will always fail to evangelize.
In the Book of Revelation Our Lord reveals His disdain for the indifferent:
“So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16)
In the Douay Rheims translation the above verse actually reads, “I will vomit thee out of my mouth.”
In contrast, authentic Catholicism is true, beautiful, and good. It is the furthest thing from a lukewarm faith. The Catholic living their faith authentically stands in stark contrast to the world around us. This authenticity is the primary means by which we evangelize an increasingly pagan and hostile culture.
First and foremost, the authentic Catholic carries with them a joy, peace, and confidence that comes from knowing, loving, and serving God. Presented with widespread chaos and confusion, the person of faith attracts others with an enthusiasm and sincerity that comes from grace alone. Of course this cannot be shared if we do not have it within ourselves, and it requires that we live our lives just as aware of the supernatural as we are of the temporal.
As I have written about before, we are lost without a sense of the supernatural. A Catholic faith stripped of the supernatural can never be anything more than lukewarm at best.
This means that life must be lived in a state of grace, with the very indwelling of the Blessed Trinity within us. A life firmly grounded in reverent Masses, frequent Confession, and daily prayer helps prepare us to evangelize others.
When Catholics live without a sense of the supernatural, however, they inevitably fall into mortal sin. A lukewarm Catholic, instead of influencing those around them, is instead influenced by a culture which proudly celebrates sin, canonizes sinners, and aggressively opposes God and the natural law.
Indeed, how can we be the much needed leaven in the world when:
Catholics overwhelmingly contracept.
Catholics frequently cohabitate.
Catholics willfully view pornography.
Catholics irregularly attend Mass.
Catholics erroneously view all religions as equal.
All of the above, all prevalent among Catholics today, prevent effective evangelization. All signify that the world has been given pride of place above the kingdom of God. All require repentance, true contrition, sacramental confession, and penance.
In the end it boils down to this: we are either authentic in our faith or lukewarm. Currently the world celebrates sin and calls truth intolerant and bigoted. The ongoing cultural free fall which sees Christianity condemned but hedonism extolled cannot be converted by indifference, fear, or anger. They demonstrate fortitude and conviction in promulgating their lies and errors. The lukewarm Catholic, to the outside world, stands for nothing, believes nothing, and therefore, converts no one.
Authenticity is needed. Now. Without delay.
Authenticity, however, requires that we live with a sense of the supernatural. Frequent the sacraments. Remain in a state of grace. Hate sin. When you fall, run to Confession. Rinse. Repeat.
Ultimately, evangelization requires authentic Catholicism: courageous priests, tradition friendly parishes, unambiguous catechesis, and marriages open to life and to vocations.
In the end, true joy and a peace which only comes from Christ naturally leads us to share this good news with others. Pope Benedict, speaking at World Youth Day 2005, said:
“Anyone who has discovered Christ must lead others to him. A great joy cannot be kept to oneself. It has to be passed on.”
Those who authentically live their Catholic faith have discovered Christ. Now they must share Him with others.