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The 2012 Non-Evangelizing Guide Every Catholic Needs To Read

Today’s post is an intro into a two {or three} part series depending on how feisty and “write-y”

I feel this week about ways NOT to evangelize. Today’s piece is foundational,

meaning I’m going to build on it by writing a series based on my own personal experiences.

I should start this piece of brilliance by stating that I don’t consider myself to be an expert in evangelizing, I don’t hold multiple degrees in theology from various Catholic universities {in fact, I hold a Spanish language degree that I don’t use from possibly the largest and most liberal university around – the University of Texas at Austin}, and I don’t consider my forte to be speaking to large groups of people with the goal of converting them to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. What I do have is good, old-fashioned grit. I grew up in a small town in East Texas where Catholics there weren’t {and possibly still aren’t} much of an evangelizing influence by comparison to the prottie population. I also have a lot {read: MASSIVE AMOUNTS} of terrible experiences that I will share with you in an effort to create an “open eyes” effect. Sometimes the approach we feel is glorifying God is, in fact, doing the opposite. It is with painful humility that I will present to you some ways to turn people away from the Faith…if that’s your goal.

Before I delve into all that yummy, delicious turnoff stuff, let me explain a little bit more about who I identify with in my evangelization efforts. I have four heroes in the Faith {after God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, Mary and all the angels, of course :)}. I present to you the cast of characters in the Faith I look to help guide me. My patron entourage, if you will.

  • St. Paul – ::swoon:: From his evil beginnings of persecuting the Church to getting knocked off his horse and infused with the Holy Spirit, how can anyone NOT like him?? The theme of St. Paul for me is one of humility, the realization that God can and will use us regardless of our past sins and/or current sinful state of life if we only submit to His plan for us, and how he constantly exhorts us to always be building up the Church. {remember that last part – it’s kinda an important point, yo}
  • St. Thérèse of Lisieux – I had no idea she was such a key player in my evangelization efforts until I realized what my strengths were. Like her ability to attribute even the smallest sufferings to the souls in Purgatory, I realized that I, too, have the ability to do the same by thanking God for the ability to evangelize in small, tiny ways. {You might find this comment laughable considering this website is my baby and has found a large audience in such a short time, but really what I’m referring to is what I do personally in a one-on-one basis with people I meet, whether online or IRL}
  • Blessed Margaret of Castello – Who? Most people have not heard of her, but her story is an amazing one {I encourage you to pick up a copy and read it!}. Born of nobility in the 1200s, her parents shunned her because of her deformities. She was born lame, blind, ugly and a homely hunchback. Her parents were so disgusted at her appearance that they banished her to a tower when she was just six years old where she remained until she was 16. As if that wasn’t bad enough, her parents abandoned her AGAIN when they took Margaret to the Franciscan Shrine of Castello to cure her deformities and the miracle cure did not happen. Despite the poor treatment of strangers throughout her life, Margaret never gave up hope on her fellow brothersand sisters and often prayed for her parents’ love to be reciprocated despite their despicable acts against her. Her example of unconditional love is one that I look to, especially in a society that is quick to write people off over the most trivial of acts. We have forgotten our ability to forgive and love. We should also be prepared if we are to effectively evangelize that the world at large will hate us for it. I should mention that I have been having a very strong tug on my heart to talk about Blessed Margaret for a while. She is just quite the amazing example of Christ’s love. If you are a fan of incorruptibles or even if you don’t know what they are, you will appreciate this link that talks about where her body lays. Though more than 200 miracles were attributed to her, she still has yet to be canonized. Blessed Margaret of Costello, pray for us!
  • St. Francis of Assisi – He is probably one of my all-time favorites because of the infamous phrase attached to him. Though he never said it, it represents who he was and how he lived – “Preach the Gospel always and when necessary use words.” It’s beautiful and it represents how our approach to the Faith should be. Too often I find that people use this phrase as an excuse to not engage others about the Faith and so it sort of gets swept under the rug as not being very effective with evangelizing, but my personal take on it is simply this: You should live your Faith in such a way that people are IRRESISTIBLY drawn to whatever it is that you have. You OOZE the Holy Spirit. Like a moth to the flame, they don’t even realize you are Catholic because you are so busy living out the Faith in an infectious way that you naturally draw people in. When these people finally DO approach you about the Faith, they have already seen your faith in action and now want to know how to get some of what you’ve got. That’s when the “and when necessary use words” comes in. There is no dismissal of the importance of words if we truly understand how St. Francis lived. We just realized that it takes some balance in bringing others to know Christ and His Church. For some that means our example needs to be silent, for others it means we engage in conversations with them, and still for others it’s a mixture of the two. If we are truly on our evangelizing game {sharpening our tools through frequent attendance of Mass, prayer, confession, consultation with a spiritual director, etc.} then we can read others well enough to know what will reach them most effectively and how to not only bring them to know Christ but to get them so excited to turn around and do the same – in Protestant language, they call it “being on fire for the Lord.”

So, now that my word count is at 1120, I am realizing that I will need to break this into at least two, possibly three parts. Boo hiss, you say? Oh well…you can read up on the virtue of patience in the meantime since I smell bacon cooking {did I mention I have the world’s BEST husband who makes the most AWESOME BACON??} and chitter chatter of four of our five kidlets who are awake at 10:30 a.m. on January 2. It’s time to go be a mom for now and I’ll let some ideas rattle around in my head on how to share with you the best ways to tick off friends and family about the Faith. Oh dear, my stomach is growling…

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About Martina Kreitzer

I am a 30-something stay-at-home mom to six kiddos, 4/96 through 6/12. We recently decided to homeschool after many years in public school. In my "spare time," I served as the chairperson for the Pastoral Council at my home parish from 2010-2013. I currently help with our Adult Faith Formation program, from the planning committee to facilitating and mentoring incoming facilitators. I also enjoy photography as a hobby. I enjoy talking about all things Catholic and always look to infuse a little bit of humor whenever possible.

January 3, 2012 - 6:17 am

Christine - Loved your post, Martina! I don’t remember ever hearing Blessed Margaret of Castello’s story before… I look forward to learning more about her.

January 3, 2012 - 8:15 am

Gina Nakagawa - Terrific post. I plan to read every word of it. I have a hero in St. Jerome. We have similar temperaments. I guess you could call it the preying mantis approach, though not for the same reasons. It goes something like pay attention to the Good Lord or get your head pinched off. My husband, a brand new Catholic and a very devout one, is my biggest booster in my endeavors. Anyway, I am hoping to get some very good pointers from you. By the way, my degree is in music/education. God bless and keep you and your family. The super bacon cooking husband sounds like a great guy!

January 3, 2012 - 10:21 am

Emily - I am having a quiet little love affair with this post… and now I’m quite intrigued on your introduction of Bl. Margaret of Costello – I may have to hit her up for some favors… especially with my own little baby Margaret, whose arm was injured during birth but has healed perfectly. I have a feeling I could connect with my new heavenly buddy pretty quickly.
Great post!

January 3, 2012 - 11:29 pm

robbie - Loved reading about Blessed Margaret! Looking forward to more.

January 23, 2012 - 1:38 am

elavifles - Hello! Just want to say thank you for this interesting article! =) Peace, Joy.

April 25, 2012 - 6:16 pm

Katheryn - I just scanned that whole site on the incorruptables and it is astounding! When I visited St Clare of Assissi, I will never forget the smell of lillies that nobody else smelled! Another wonderful fruit and evangelization from that site, I had an amazing conversation with my 6 year old about Eucharistic Miracles, which I believe are the vehicle of incorruptability (is that a word?). Thank you for all that! I hope for the opportunity to visit some more of these sites!

April 26, 2012 - 8:36 am

Jes - There was a book about Mergaret of Castello in my primary school library. I remember St Margaret and the story, but I could never find her again, so thank you.

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