Several months ago, probably more than I would like to admit since time seems to slip away from me, as I got home from the store the kids presented me with a package that had come in the mail. The package was from Sophia Press. I hadn’t ordered anything so I felt a little confused. Still, I eagerly opened the package to see what was inside. A book slipped out and into my hands.
It has been a while since Shaun McAfee and I had talked about me reviewing his new book, “Filling Our Father’s House; What Converts Can Teach Us about Evangelization”. I had forgotten that the book was to be on its way to me at some point. But, that day as I held it in my hands, I couldn’t wait to get started reading it and to write a review of it.
Of course, life got in the way. I was going to school full time to finish my psychology degree, doing volunteer work both in our parish and our community, homeschooling my kids, writing for Catholic Sistas and Catholic Stand, and being a wife, mother, and friend. Life was hectic and there seemed to be no extra time to sit quietly and read. I sadly put the book on my nightstand and promised myself that as soon as I had the time it would be the first book outside of a textbook that I would read.
I truly believe that God brings us to what we need, when we need it. Reading this book several months ago probably would have not been good for me. But now, at this place in my life, it seemed God was telling me that I needed what was contained within pages of this book.
As I dove into reading, I found it was an easy read. With young children interrupting me at every page it seemed, I needed that gift of ease. Written at the layman’s level, it was easy to understand and connect with. I devoured every page. Highlighting and hand written notes soon filled the pages and I began to think of ways I could change my own life to become a stronger beacon of God’s light to others. As a cradle Catholic I was never taught that evangelization was necessary. This book showed me that not only is evangelization is necessary but also beneficial to our own souls too.
Mr. McAfee, a convert to the Catholic faith, brings new ideas and encouragement to those of us who would like to follow the call to be a part of the New Evangelization. His book outlines what steps we should look to take if we want to bring God’s light and love to those around us. While we don’t consider Catholics an “evangelizing type”, we are all called to spread God’s Word and His love to each person we encounter. Filling Our Father’s House gives us a great way to begin this journey of becoming people who are able to share God’s Word and hopefully bring others to Christ.
Mr. McAfee begins his book by explaining why we need to evangelize and why it is important for us to be a part of this movement. He reminds us that the USCCB tells us,
“The New Evangelization calls each of us to deepen our faith, believe in the Gospel message and go forth to proclaim the Gospel. The focus of the New Evangelization calls all Catholics to be evangelized and then go forth and evangelize.” (p. 7)
He then sets out to help us realize this goal- both to be evangelized to and to evangelize to others.
Your Personal Testimony
Mr. McAfee encourages us to each develop our own personal testimony. Don’t think you have one? Wrong! We each have a testimony of how we got to where we are in our faith life whether we are converts, reverts, or cradle Catholics who never left the faith. Our testimonies are a powerful part of how and why we evangelize. Sharing our story, whether in brief or in depth, helps others to understand why we do what we do and why we believe what we believe. Our stories have the power to help others come to Christ.
After developing our testimonies, we are encouraged to truly read Scripture. Mr. McAfee lists out several wonderful ways to dive into Scripture. We often forget that what works well for one person may not work well for another. Mr. McAfee encourages us to find the way that works best for us so that we will want to study Scripture. He also lists websites and other helpful resources that can make our Scripture study more meaningful and fruitful.
A Close and Personal Relationship with Christ
Continuing on with his encouragement of diving deeper into our faith, Mr. McAfee reminds us of our need to have a close and personal relationship with Christ. In our harried world, sometimes this seems impossible. But Christ desires a relationship with us. He doesn’t want us to just show up for Mass and walk through the motions; no, He wants us to want to know Him as deeply and personally as He already knows us. In the book we are given several ways to foster this personal relationship with Christ.
Faith is to be Shared
Mr. McAfee reminds us that our faith is meant to be shared. We are the Church, and as such, if we want to grow in holiness and if we want to be a part of this New Evangelization, we must become active within our families, our parishes, and our communities. We are reminded that “after the family unity, the parish is where the souls of the Church are formed and nurtured” (p. 75). We must be willing to take on both leadership roles and supportive roles if we wish to help bring Christ to the world. In these chapters we find suggestions on how to welcome new members, converts, and how to reach out to those who may have become apathetic about their faith. We also read of ways to connect with those who are active in our congregations in new and meaningful ways.
Filling Our Father’s House provides us with a great base for encouraging personal spiritual growth as well as ways to help us share that growth with others. It reminds us that as followers of Christ we are each called to share Christ’s love and light to all that we encounter. Christ longs for all His people to live in unity and peace. If we choose to learn and grow in faith we stand a greater chance at bringing unity to all of Christ’s followers.
The question remains- are you ready to be a part of the New Evangelization? If so, “Filling Our Father’s House; What Converts Can Teach Us about Evangelization” can help you answer this calling.
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About Michelle Fritz
Michelle Fritz is a daughter of God, a cradle Catholic, a Georgia peach, a devoted wife of almost 30 years to amazing husband Mike, and an eclectic homeschooling mother to eleven living children. She has experienced the loss of 16 babies in her call to be open to life, but knows that God is always loving and always gracious. She and her husband know that they have an army of Saints already in heaven! In addition to her vocation as wife, mom, and homeschool teacher she also holds a Masters in Theology and has recently taken on the role of Youth Minister for both the middle school and high school groups at her parish.