The Catholic Church preaches the good news of Jesus Christ 24/7. Members of the Church preach in and outside of Church buildings. Every Catholic is engaged in "preaching." We, in fact, are a great body of preachers, of evangelizers, and we spread the Gospel as good news in many different ways.
Most probably we associate preaching with the homily “preached” by the priest at Mass. Pope Francis, however, views preaching much more dynamically. Pope Francis, in The Joy of the Gospel, describes how the faith becomes embodied in a culture and is constantly passed on. We see the simple yet beautiful ways the Gospel is brought to life in the mother at a child's bedside quietly saying her rosary or just talking to God about her fears, and the father who is worried about the outcome of a court case asking for prayers on a website, in the teenager walking down the street boasting a message from the Gospel on his shirt, or a young adult quietly reading the Bible on her phone on the subway. Pope Francis calls this "popular spirituality" or "the people's mysticism." It is a spirituality incarnated in the culture of the people, a spirituality that discovers and expresses content through symbols and is a way of feeling part of the Church. This “people's mysticism” has missionary power and everyone can spread the Gospel in this way.
I remember there was a lot of religious symbolism in my home as I was growing up. A beautiful image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help always hung in our living room with a small candle before it. It was a favorite devotion of my mother, and even now when I return home, standing before Our Lady's image for just a moment assures me I truly am home. We often said the rosary together. Every time my mother brought us to school, she would say, "God bless you. God love you. God keep you." And we would respond with the same blessing to her. Most of the time, I must admit, we rattled it off quickly, but the consistent use of that salutation quietly had its effect on our young hearts. Little things, really, and yet powerful ways of "being missionaries," according to Pope Francis. He calls them "evangelizing gestures."
"Let us not stifle or presume to control this missionary power!" (n. 123-124).
This preaching is the daily responsibility of all of us. Preaching becomes in the family, among friends, and with colleagues, a lifestyle of loving others enough to inject the Gospel into their world. It is the "informal preaching which takes place in the middle of a conversation...constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey" (no. 127).
Here’s a Check List for creating evangelizing symbols and gestures in your life. Some of these might work for you:
You might find these books helpful in being a quiet evangelizer:
Catholic Family Fun: A Guide for the Adventurous, Overwhelmed, Creative or Clueless. By Sarah Reinhard. Here’s a fun way of bringing your family closer together and celebrate your faith at the same time. Find storytelling, craft projects, vacation ideas, silly things, and praying together among the activities your family will enjoy. This book makes creating fun times easy even for busy moms (and which mom isn’t?) and moms who struggle with hands-on crafts and activities.
How To Handle Worry. By Marshall Cooke. Can a faith perspective help one to manage stress on a daily basis? See how Marshall Cook tackles worry from a Catholic perspective when “life seems so unfair” or “why me” comes to mind. “You can no more banish worry from your life than you can save yourself from death. But God can do it if you let him.” –Marshall Cooke, Author
Joy of the Gospel. By Pope Francis. Ever been to a Catholic procession or celebration? Good news and faith bring people to celebrate joy and share a common hope. This document is Pope Francis’ vision of a Church that finds us willing to be more selfless, reach out to the marginalized, and live the faith we share.
Mission of the Redeemer. By Pope John Paul II. Are we not all called to witness as Christians? Read a document that gives the basic tenants of the New Evangelization. A must read for those who believe that we are called to be the leaven in the dough.
by Sr. Kathryn James Hermes, FSP
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