Here’s a reminder of things. A reminder of what, for example, Pope Benedict is talking about almost every time he opens his mouth or sets pen to paper.
It is the time of year for many parishes to recruit for parish “ministries.” To have ministry fairs or ministry assemblies or what have you. Listen, as you are invited to participate in these ministries, what the purpose is.
Why should you do this? Why should you consider checking off a box on the card or putting your name on the sign-up sheet?
Is it because Jesus Christ has redeemed us, saved us from sin and death, gives us hope in the present and for the future and invites us to life-giving friendship with and faith in Him that transforms?
And that there are so many in your community – in your parish boundaries – who are dying for this Good News – dying without it, perhap literally dying – and that what this parish is all about is sharing the Good News with the lost and seeking through the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, in any and all ways we are graced by God to do so in our daily lives?
Is that what the ministries are for? Is that why the Ministry Fair is important? To help us figure that out, to discern and go forward with that Good News out beyond the church parking lot?
Or is it because…it’s just…good to be involved in the parish? It’s even necessary, as a sign of our faith to be involved in the parish? Because our parish needs to be a vibrant and energetic communty and we need your vibrancy and energy for that to happen?
Is it a mission…or is it a club?
Who do you say that I am?
Related, an excellent post at Ad Saeculum by Brother Robert, O.P. on “The ‘E” Word.”
It’s back to school time, and this past week the students have been moving into the dorms up at the University. So the campus ministry team has been “tabling”, that is, sitting at a table in the student center, handing out information and registration materials to passers by.
Also present were tables for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and The Salt Company, which seems to be a local ministry associated with the Southern Baptists. Wanting to see what these other campus ministry groups were up to, I dropped by their tables and talked to them for a bit. At the Salt table, one of the guys started asking me questions about the Catholic Church: do you believe in a relationship with God? where did your “extra” books in the Bible come from? and so on. The teacher in me enjoyed this conversation, because I always love it when I can help someone fill a gap in their own knowledge.
But as we were talking, I noticed a difference in their approach to tabling and ours. They were trying to attract any and all to their table, and trying to draw them, not just into activities, but into a deeper relationship with Christ. In other words, they were trying to evangelize. Meanwhile, our goal at our Newman Center table was to attract Catholics and their parents, to bring in those who were already practicing our faith. In short, our goal was pastoral, to gather the flock together.
Now, both of these actions are necessary. But I’ve noticed a distinct reluctance among Catholics — even among my brothers in the Order of Preachers! — to engage in evangelization. I think it’s because we mistake proselytization for true evangelization. And I think we make this mistake because, in their enthusiasm for evangelizing, many of our Evangelical brothers and sisters make the same mistake.