Pastor’s Blog

What is Evangelization?

The Church today is hearing a fresh call from the Holy Spirit regarding evangelization. This has become so clear through the recent ministries of the Popes. Paul VI called evangelization the Church’s deepest identity. Conversion Is what she is about. When Jesus was tempted in the desert by Satan, it was all about his identity as Messiah and Son of God. The temptation was about being a Messiah other than the one purposed by God the Father. The Church Today is being called back to her identity-to evangelize. So what is evangelization? Paul VI said that there is no evangelization without the name, teaching, ministry and life of Jesus, his passion, death and resurrection being proclaimed. So, while many activities can be good, such as passing out fliers of an upcoming mission, or knocking on doors to invite people to a parish event, these are not evangelism unless there is the sharing of the person of Jesus with people. We share him with others so we can invite them into a friendship with him. St. Paul in Romans 5 states that it is by one man-Adam that sin came into the world. Yet, by obedience and grace through Jesus came life into the world. In evangelism, we announce this truth and invite people into friendship with the Lord. Evangelism is about conversion. John Paul II defined conversion as accepting the saving sovereignty of Jesus in our life. It is to accept him as Lord and Savior. This is a personal choice on our part as a response to the good news of Jesus.



The Spirituality of Pentecost

Another great re-discovery in our time is the spirituality of Pentecost. The Church has become aware that the vigor and ardor of Pentecost is needed for our day. Pope Paul VI said the Church is always in need of a perpetual Pentecost. John Paul II stated that in our day we are discovering the charismatic dimension of the Church. It is as essential to the life of the church as her institutional dimension. The Holy Spirit gave birth to the Church at Pentecost. It is the source and inspiration for evangelism and her mission to the world. So, then, the parish is that place where the spirituality of Pentecost is cultivated. It is the place where the inspirations of the Holy Spirit are accepted and discerned. It is the place where the spiritual gifts (charisms) are encouraged and accepted. As Benedict XVI has said, now is the time for the whole church to be baptized in the Holy Spirit by re-discovering the graces of baptism and confirmation.


A Spirituality of Communion

One of the great re-discoveries of our time is that the Church is not just an institution (though important as this is) but is also a spirituality of communion. The fellowship of believers sharing their hearts with one another, growing in faith and encouraging one another to “work out our salvation” is one of the key aspects of parish life. The Trinity is a Persons of fellowship: sharing love and life. So too this should be reflected in the parish community amongst believers. The parish should be that place where Christians come to know each other and share faith and life. There are to be concrete ways for us to gather frequently to help each other work out our salvation. In these gatherings, we encourage one another to grow in the Lord. We support and help each other in life’s challenges. We affirm each other in our spiritual gifts and vocations. We hold each other accountable in love to walk the path of holiness. After all, we want to help each other go to heaven.



A School of Prayer

John Paul II called the parish a school of prayer. What did he mean? Amongst several things, the essence was that through prayer, the Christian would fall in love with Jesus. He spoke of how prayer is more than just petition and intercession. In addition, it is about learning how to grow in praise, thanksgiving, adoration and listening to the word of God till the heart falls in love with the Beloved Jesus. So the parish ought to be a place where people learn these different ways of prayer. It ought to be the place where people can come and experience the different ways of praying.

 



A Training Ground of Holiness

Continuing the reflection on vision for the parish, what is meant by the parish as a training ground of holiness? John Paul II said that when we bring a person for baptism, and we ask, “What do you ask of the church?”, the answer could be very simply “holiness.” What is holiness? One of the saints in the Catholic tradition called it “aligning our will with God’s will.” Another way to describe holiness is “love.”. The more we love God and others, we grow in holiness. The end of holiness is love. How do we grow in holiness? St. Paul spoke about growing in holiness through the renewal of our mind (Romans 12:2). As our minds are being touched by the word of God in Sacred Scripture, we change. At the heart of this change is repentance. We turn away from thoughts, behavior and attitudes that are contrary to the word of God. For the parish to be a “training ground in holiness” would be for the parish to be a place where the Sacred Scriptures are taught with the goal of transformation. Each member is called to holiness. Each member is to be transformed.



What is Mission?

One way to describe mission is to think about what we are here for. At St. Patrick our mission is very simple: it is to love God with all out heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is to make disciples of all nations teaching them to do and observe all Jesus did and taught. Simply put: our mission is to love God, love neighbor and make disciples ( Mt. 22:37-39; Mt. 28: 18-20). This mission describes what we are here for and what we are to do! In one sense, it is a measure for what we are to be about. An example is when we do certain activities does it fulfill the mission? Does it help us come closer to fulfilling what we are to be about?



What is Vision?



Mission/Evangelism

The final purpose or priority for the Christian life is mission or evangelism. Jesus told us to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” I like to call this “life on mission.” As we live our life, we “are going”! WE interact with others. As we do, we establish and look for the opportunities to serve, pray and share Christ with others. A Christian life is not balanced if we do not seize the opportunities to Share Christ with others. A healthy, balanced Christian life is a “life on mission.”


Ministry

Every Christian is called to serve. Or, in other words, we are called to ministry to others. Ministry is not the domain of clergy. Rather it is the calling of all who are baptized in Christ. What is ministry? It is meeting the needs of others out of the resources the Lord gives us. Those resources may be natural resources such as our talents, money and time. It also includes supernatural resources such as spiritual gifts the Lord gives us in baptism. The natural and the supernatural resources come together to serve the needs of others. It becomes the obligation and the joy of every Christian to minister to others. A healthy, balanced spiritual life is a life that gives to others in His name. We give to others out of the natural and supernatural resources that are given to us.
 


Discipleship

We are created to be disciples of Jesus. What does this mean? A disciple is a “learner.” This is not simply an accumulation of information. It is imitating the life-style choices and values of the Master. Every disciple, in biblical times, imitated a master. For us, it is Jesus Christ of Nazareth. What do we “learn”? We learn his truth and values so we may imitate them. Our life is to become like his. The goal for our life is to become like Jesus. With all the trials and tests, the challenges and difficulties, the Holy Spirit wants to conform us to the image of Jesus. This is the supreme goal of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is God’s gift to us to help us grow in and understand what it means to be conformed to the image of Jesus. The Catholic Church’s teachings, particularly as reflected in the Catechism of the Catholic Church helps understand the biblical teachings. No higher goal for our life than to be like Jesus.