Evangelization in the Modern World-Part Three: The Edge
The universal call to evangelization (as explained in the first part of this series), must be preceded by a fulfillment of the universal call to holiness. The second part focused on the means, especially the modern means, by which we can bring others to Christ. The purpose of this third and final installment of Evangelization in the Modern World is to remind Catholics that, when it comes to evangelization, we are truly at an advantage. In this fight for souls, with the means by which we attain holiness as well the guidance we enjoy in our glorious Church, the faithful Catholic should be encouraged and assured that, conformed to the divine will, we have the upper hand.
Evangelization can seem like a daunting task. It can be easy to look at the culture around us and fall into a sense of despair. It appears as if many around us, even close family and friends, are on the path to losing their souls. Judging by many of their actions, this seems like a reasonable conclusion to reach, but it’s dangerous, for only God knows the hearts of men. I’m not trying to downplay the very real danger of hell and the sad reality that many will go there. However, if Satan can convince us that the whole world is damned, we can find ourselves turning inward and focusing solely on our own salvation while passing off the rest of the world as hopeless sinners that aren’t worth the trouble. By doing this, we can fail to recognize the part we play in the salvation of souls as well as the endless mercy of God. This immense ocean of mercy is humanity’s last saving grace. As we draw closer to the end times, there will be more and more who “know not what they do”, because they have been brought up in a culture so saturated with sin and death that it will become “normal” to live a grievously sinful life. However, there will still be those who hear the truth and respond, those who courageously break free from their bonds of sin and amend their lives for Jesus and Our Lady.
Even today, converts and previously lukewarm Catholics are rising up to fulfill their vocations in every walk of life. Something big is coming in the world. Evil is growing more and more prevalent in the mainstream…and when it comes down to it, Catholics will be the only defenders of truth. The Catholic Church alone will stand as the beacon of truth and goodness, for “the gates of hell shall not prevail ” (Matt. 16:18). The battle lines are now being drawn, and if Catholics don’t step up to evangelize, pray, and suffer for their fellow brothers and sisters, many souls will be lost forever.
“In this world, you will have tribulation. But take heart, for I have overcome the world.”
Fortunately for us Catholics, we have the edge. We have the advantage in the spiritual battle and have access, from the Church, all the means necessary to bring souls to Christ. If we are living an authentic Catholic life, we have the power to overcome any obstacle Satan could ever throw at us. When we grow in the faith, we move closer and closer to the Truth, and we become living embodiments of the Truth. We know that the truth can never be defeated, so what should we fear? Some Catholics nowadays are apprehensive about living a truly Catholic life, but as those of us who are following the true faith can attest, love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Added to the gift of divine love given to us by God, as Catholics we possess many tremendous means to overcome Satan and bring souls to Christ:
We have the Eucharist. This is the source and summit of our faith. Frequent, worthy reception and adoration of Christ in the Eucharist is key in evangelization. Many Protestants have converted to the faith after realizing that the Eucharist is truly the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord, as demonstrated in the scriptures and throughout all of Christian history.
We have the Rosary. Pope Pius IX once said, “Give me an army praying the rosary and I shall conquer the world.” Every Catholic should be praying, if not a whole rosary, then at least a decade or two every day.
We have the unfailing truth of the Magisterium. Not only does the Magisterium teach the truth, but she teaches the truth with clarity, reason, and astounding wisdom. The teaching authority of the Church, led by the Holy Father and the Holy Spirit, give us the means by which we can evangelize using the God-given faculties of reason and the intellect. We have sanity and logic. We have the Magisterial wisdom of over twenty centuries to look to.
We have the help of the saints and Our Blessed Mother. Ask the saints to intercede to Christ for souls. Our Blessed Mother isn’t called “The Help of Christians” for nothing. She is the most powerful saint in Heaven, Queen of the Universe, and Mother of Our Divine Lord. And she’s on our side.
We have the promise of Christ himself. When Christ told his followers “I am with you, even to the end of the world”(Matt. 28:20), he meant it. Remember, no one wants souls to be saved more than Christ, and whenever the opportunity to evangelize presents itself, Christ is with you.
It’s obvious that, when it comes to evangelization, we have everything going for us. The challenge is to make ourselves instruments through which the Gospel can be made manifest.
“The new evangelization is very much tied up with entering a new missionary age, which will become a radiant day bearing an abundant harvest, if all Christains respond with generosity and holiness to the calls and challenges of our time.”
-Bl. John Paul II
We have the edge. The wind is at our back, filling the sails of our great ship, the Church. Our holy father Pope Francis stands captain at the helm, with Christ as the compass. The Magisterium stands as the structure, poles, and rigging that keep the ship upright and afloat. Priests and religious continually administer to the lay men and women who man the oars. Some throw life rafts to children who risk drowning in the black waters of sin, and always the standard of the Holy Cross flies high above the sea.This great vessel will traverse battering rocks and tumultuous storms, but the hand of Christ and the mantle of Mary will protect it until it one day arrives safely at its destination, the harbors of Heaven. Just how many souls will step out onto the shores of eternal bliss remains to be seen. And so we evangelize.
Take heart, my brothers and sisters. Although following Christ is not easy, and bringing others to him is harder still, we have the Church as our guide and Christ as our Lord. We have Mary for our mother and the saints as our sisters and brothers, and nothing will defeat the Truth. We as Catholics have been given a great responsibility, which is why our good Lord has also given us a great edge. Whether through deed or prayer, God sees our hearts and is pleased when we try to lead a fallen away brother or sister to him. Do not think that you are not worthy to evangelize. If you love Christ and seek to do his will, you can evangelize. Christ chooses all of us for this task, so don’t think one person is more called than the next. The means and the methods by which we may carry out evangelization may differ, but even the most seemingly insignificant act or prayer can have a great effect.
St. Francis De Sales once said, “The whole world is not worth one soul.” If, through our actions or through our prayers, we are able to lead just one soul to Christ, all our efforts will be worth more than we could ever now realize.
We have been called by Christ. We have the means. We have the edge. We need only to find our place in this new evangelization, that specific position in which Christ wants you to carry out his work. Whether on the street corner, the pulpit, in the adoration chapel, or the cloister, we all have to seek conformity to the plan of Christ. Then, and only then, will this new evangelization fully realize its mission and reap abundant fruits.