Much has happened since we were together last. We have begun the twelve “Segments”; each has a different theme that we spend a good bit of time discussing and sharing our life experiences. In the First Segment we discussed Commitment. In the Second Segment we discussed Shared Ministry. Last night we discussed Evangelization.
The purposes of the Segments are: 1) To continue personal spiritual growth of the team members, 2) To develop a sense of discipleship in a community of love and service, 3) To prepare for the Renewal Weekend.
You did not choose me but I chose you; and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit.” John 15:16
“The content of one’s commitments will determine the course of one’s life.” CRHP Manual
When I’m tempted to waver in my commitment to the CRHP process, it helps to call to mind the reasons I chose to commit in the first place: to bring God to the participants, to join our pastor and the Holy Spirit in his efforts to renew the parish, to activate my own personal spiritual growth, and ultimately, to give glory to God.
Shared Ministry highlights:
“We pray always when the One who loves us is always on our mind. Shared prayer, then, is sharing what is on our mind.” CRHP Manual
We recently celebrated 180 years as a parish community (established 1831). Our pastor received letters from area organizations that beautifully illustrated how our parish has been woven into the larger community, serving people faithfully in many ways for many for years. In addition to all the present-day ministries, CRHP strikes me as one of the latest ways we continue that contribution.
On a larger scale, renewing our parishes will be beneficial for the Universal Church as well, bringing about the New Pentecost that is on the heart of God, as proclaimed by Pope John XXIII, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI.
Our discussion on the topic of evangelization was fruitful. The definition we were given was
“To proclaim the love of the Father which comes to us through Jesus Christ in such a way that through the Holy Spirit you accept it with your own free and firm commitment.” CRHP Manual
In the stories that we shared, we found some of the basic ingredients of the experience. Evangelization happens in everyday relationships - between family, friends, and strangers. It takes courage to love as Jesus loves, and it takes courage to be open to be loved. Some essential things that we must do:
1) Simply be there, be present to one another.
2) Listen, Encourage, and Challenge one another.
3) Pray. I will pray for you. Can I pray for you? Can we pray together?
4) Share Jesus, both by name and by deed.
The results are exciting and edifying. Both persons in the interaction are energized and inspired. God’s goodness, truth, and beauty is attractive to us because we were made for it.
It seems to me that evangelization is really a form of shared prayer. It is a form of worship, of sharing in God’s work on earth by offering our bodies to Him to love others through us.
There has been talk in Catholic circles about The New Evangelization. The Church is missionary by Her very nature, and The New Evangelization is a re-awakening to that mission. It has been expressed and emphasized by the last four popes – Francis, Benedict XVI, John Paul II, and John VI. Because of the current cultural climate, The New Evangelization has a special emphasis:
[God and His Church have] a sincere desire to invite all of God’s children to their place in the Church: “We want to let our inactive brothers and sisters know that they always have a place in the Church and that we are hurt by their absence—as they are. . . . we want to help them see that, however they feel about the Church, we want to talk with them, share with them, and accept them as brothers and sisters.”
I feel a direct, concrete example of this when I invite someone to a Renewal Weekend. This is what Christ Renews His Parish is designed to do, offer an invitation and an opportunity to meet Jesus in His Church. May God bless our efforts!