Monday, July 14, 2008

Cardinal Dulles on Evangelization

"The most important areas for Catholic mission work in the United States today would seem to be two: to catechize Catholics in their Faith and to motivate them to evangelize others.

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"If [Catholics] are convinced that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God and Savior of the world, they will want everyone to share the Faith and draw near to Jesus in study, prayer, and worship. ...

"I have heard some Catholics speak as though ours were a shrinking Church. It could shrink and lose its vitality if it relied simply on transmission of the Faith in traditional ways through families, neighborhoods and schools. But Christ urgently summons the Church to engage in apostolic outreach. Protestant Evangelicals and Pentecostals have mounted highly successful programs of evangelization. They have a lot to teach us, though we should not imitate all of their tactics.

"Increasing numbers of Jews and non-Catholic Christians, including rabbis and ministers, are finding the fullness of truth in the Catholic Faith. Too often they have cause to complain that Catholics rarely help them join the Church or make them feel welcome when they come in."

[Excerpt from: Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, "True Mission Priorities," Extension (November 2005), 20.]

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Considering the recent news about the hope of a large section of the Anglican Communion entering into communion with the Catholic Church, I thought Cardinal Dulles' words from a few years ago were appropriate. We Catholics need to know our Faith and show our Faith both by word and deed. The latter is accomplished by not only living as practicing Catholics, but also inviting our non-Catholic friends and neighbors to think about becoming Catholic. We must let them know we want them.
Why not ask a non-Catholic friend, "Did you ever think of becoming Catholic?" Or honestly, "You'd make a great Catholic." Plant the seed and let God's grace give the growth.
We've got nothing to lose? But both they and we have got everything to gain.

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