In this three-part series, we will be looking at the new evangelization–why it matters, what it entails, and what we can do to help bring souls to Christ and the fullness of his truth in the Catholic Church. You may already know some of what will be presented here. You may not. It is the Militia’s most sincere hope that it helps you in some manner. Whether to serve as a reminder and a reinforcement or as an eye-opener and a call-to- arms, I pray that it be a clear and instructive guide to assist you in your evangelization effort.
For Christ and his Holy Catholic Church,
On December 8, 1975, the apostolic exhortation “On Evangelization in the Modern World,” by Pope Paul VI was promulgated. In it, the Pope wrote of three “burning questions” concerning the nature of evangelization:
1.) “In our day, what has happened to that hidden energy of the Good News, which is able to have a powerful effect on man’s conscience?”
2.) “To what extent and in what way is that evangelical force capable of really transforming the people of this century?”
3.) “What methods should be followed in order that the power of the Gospel may have its effect?” 
Although written thirty-nine years ago, these questions are more relevant today than ever before. Secular humanism is rampant in many formerly Catholic countries. Militant atheism is growing. Roughly 4,000 abortions are performed each day in America alone. The errors of relativism and modernism have stained our Lord’s holy Church. Many Catholics support contraception, homosexual acts, and live a life in defiance of the Magisterium. Many fail to realize the true presence of our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. Of course, this is all to be expected. After all, we are a fallen race. The point is, things have gotten worse in recent years. It seems as if society has abandoned Christ and traded eternal life for a temporary one full of superficiality, anxiety, and vanity. It is a sad trade, but many have made it. Even many Catholics have done the transaction. Offer a prayer for such souls! They don’t know hope. And hope is really what they need. Where can they find such hope? Certainly not from the news stands and the popular media. A constant barrage of reports on war, sex abuse, and all other variations of crime don’t offer hope. It’s all bad news. People tend to be fascinated with the disorder that occurs in humanity, and this is why it is reported. No one reads about the parish priest who, day after day, works joyously for the good of his parishioners. No one reads about the husband and wife who find great consolation and hope in going to Mass daily and receiving the God of the Universe, truly present in the Holy Eucharist. No tabloid will ever show you the pure happiness of a quiet, hidden, contemplative nun who prays day and night that the world around her may know the same joy she has discovered.
The fact of the matter is, the popular media will never “try” the truth. The truth takes effort, and it is not palatable to our comfortable society.
Since the collective culture will not “try” the truth, it is time for faithful Catholics who have tried, and lived it, to step up! I know that, for most of you reading this, you have probably given some effort to the cause of Christ. For others, however, this will not be fun to hear. Don’t worry. Evangelization isn’t easy, but it isn’t too difficult either. Realize that evangelization takes many forms, and there isn’t one set way to do it. Sometimes, (many times) prayer is the surest way to bring souls to Christ. Indeed, all evangelization efforts must be accompanied with prayer. Without it, anything you try to do will be pointless. I’ve heard it said that trying to lead someone to Christ without prayer is like firing blanks at a target.
First Order of Business: The Universal Call to Holiness
“Thus it is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity; by this holiness as such a more human manner of living is promoted in this earthly society. In order that the faithful may reach this perfection, they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history.”
—Pope Paul VI, Lumen gentium
Since there are methods of evangelization for everyone, everyone in the Church is called to help in the effort. In reality, however, there is only a minority of Catholics who have taken up the call. Before responding to the call to evangelization, these Catholics most likely responded to the universal call to holiness, which must really come first. After all, if an evangelizer is not themselves holy, they cannot give what they do not have. That being said, it is crucial to note that individuals themselves do not bring souls to Christ in and of themselves. The Holy Spirit is the key mover of hearts, so do not presume that you will convert a hundred souls during the first week of your pious evangelization efforts, no matter how hard you try. You could present the truth in the most beautiful way possible and there will still be those who reject it. You may only lead one soul to Christ in your entire lifetime, and maybe only that after years and years of fervent prayer. The important thing to remember is that the Holy Spirit does the “heavy lifting”. Individual persons can plant seeds of truth in the lives of others, but, just as God does not force us to love him, we cannot force others to love him. We can only give them the means by which they can begin to open their hearts to the truth. We give them the truth, and the truth stands by itself. We are vastly better equipped to give the truth to others when we ourselves live it. Personal holiness is the first step to effective evangelization. Of course, this is always a work in progress for us all, but you will know when you are ready to take the next step. The truth will compel you to act. You will desire to let Christ be known, and he will give you the grace and means to do so. He gave it to the apostles and he will give it to you, if your intentions are pure.
The Commission of Christ
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Over 2,000 years ago, Christ gave this commission to the first Catholics, the apostles. Now, we too are called to give the good news to those who have not received it. The word “Gospel” comes from the Old English “God spell” or “Good news.” Christ died for our sins, conquered death by resurrection, and opened the gates of heaven for us to be with the one who loves us most, in eternal bliss…forever! Surely this must be the most tremendous and glorious news that can fall upon a person’s ear! It almost sounds too good to be true, but the truth is nothing but good, because it comes from the eternal good which is God.
The Gospel message is so joyous, so radical, so completely astonishing, that the weight of all it entails can be overwhelming to share. But if we have been given the gift of the Gospel and the gift of faith, we cannot keep it to ourselves. The truth cannot be hidden. Once a person has it, there is no other response but to desire for others to have it as well. Many times, that’s where it stops. We wish people would have the truth but don’t really do anything about it. Of course, the Holy Spirit is working in the lives of others and they may come to the truth regardless of our actions. But picture this: You have just died. You now kneel before Jesus Christ as he prepares to judge your soul. He asks you: “What have you done to bring my sons, your brothers, to my loving heart?” You can only answer: “Nothing, Lord. I loved you but not others enough to lead them to you. I was afraid they would laugh at me.”
We have time here and now to lead others to Christ. It is not a special privilege for a select few of eloquent speakers or knowledgeable theologians. Just as we are all called to be saints, we are all called to give others the chance to become saints by giving them the truth. All who are baptized, all who are confirmed, indeed the entire Church is commissioned to spread the Gospel to every corner of the earth. Whether or not the earth will respond is another matter altogether, a matter better left to the Holy Spirit. Our job is to give the truth, nothing more and nothing less. This is our duty. This is the Universal Call.
“The Church doesn’t have a mission. It is a mission.”
-Pope Paul VI
In the next part, we will look at the means by which we can spread the Gospel in this day and age as well as practical applications and tips on how to share Christ in everyday life.