Do U Evangelize? Homily for 6th Week of Easter
In today’s Second Reading, we read, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” This could be a motto for disciples amid the current situation. It is not unusual, however. The Church has seen this before.
17th Century France, and to a degree Spain as well, was a difficult time.
- Thousands died from famine.
- There were eight religious civil wars in 32 years.
- Twenty percent of the population of Paris died in a religiously fueled siege.
Yet we read about a great Catholic revival and the “Generation of Saints” in early 17th-century France. They emerged from circumstances vastly grimmer than our own. It occurred two generations after the Council of Trent. The exhausted survivors of the Catholic Church looked about them. They begin to respond apostolically – collaborating across the generations. It included bishops, priests, laymen or laywomen. 17th Century France could be considered the “Generation of Saints.”
Theologians and Church Doctors
- Lawrence of Brindisi Capuchin and Doctor of the Church.
- Robert Bellarmine – Jesuit Cardinal, Doctor of the Church, and key player in the Counter-Reformation.
Evangelists and ministers to the poor:
- Louis Beltran (Bertrand) and his Companions – Dominicans who evangelized South America.
- Martin de Porres – Dominican who ministered to poor, slaves, and prisoners in Peru.
- Vincent de Paul Founder of the Redemptorists and ..
- ..his friend Louise de Marillac founder of the Daughters of Charity.
- Francis de Sales – Religious, founder, Doctor of the Church and author of Introduction to the Devout Life, and …
- .. his friend Jane Frances de Chantal, Founder of the Visitation Sisters.
Missionaries and Martyrs:
- Isaac Jogues and Jean de Brébeuf
- Add to the list St. Kateri Tekakwitha who was evangelized by French missionaries.
- Margaret Mary Alacoque – who helped spread the Devotion to the Sacred Heart.
- Mary Magdalene de Pazzi – Carmelite and mystic
- Rose of Lima – Dominican aesthetic and intercessor.
- John Berchmans – Jesuit who died at 22 and Patron of Altar Servers.
I counted 364 Saints and Blesseds who arose during this period. In Paris, 60 religious communities were founded just to do intercessory prayer and penance. They accomplished this in only 6 years.
I was listening to a Catholic Evangelization conference called U-Evangelize. The conference title was, “Can Catholics Really Evangelize at a Time Like This?”
Sherry Weddell from Catherine of Siena Institute was one of the featured speakers. She said,
Today is a moment. It’s weird. People are having weird thoughts. People are having weird moments.
They are starting to pay attention to things they never considered before. There are people currently out there who are thinking, “Look, I‘m not Catholic. I’m not a believer. I don’t go to Church. I’m not sure of this God thing but I willing to do something. I don’t know what that ‘something’ is but ….”
People are searching. People are searching online. Over Holy Week Vatican media contact quadrupled across all media platforms. 5 million people watched Pope Francis’ Urbi er Orbi prayer and blessing.
Catholics might be saying, “Nothing I do matters.” It DOES matter! What you do empowers the entire Church. What you don’t do weakens the mission and effectiveness of the entire Church.
She challenged people by asking,
“How is God leading you to prepare for the time after the pandemic?”
Dan Cellucci is President of Catholic Leadership Institute. He recently made a generous offer to priests, pastors, and parishes for the time after the Pandemic. CLI is offering a Post-Pandemic Parish Support program. This includes focused planning sessions – free of charge – to help parishes adjust to a new normal. He mentioned that they will cover the “Post Pandemic 4 P’s.” They can be applied to individual disciples as well:
- Purpose – Whats yours? Not sure? Try the “Prayer of Openness” (See below)
- Picture – What does it look like? What might your spiritual life look like? What could your parish look like?
- Part – What part do I play in this? What can I do?
- Plan – What am I going to do first? How about after that?
Here are some suggestions:
- Be open. Say the “Prayer of Openness .” Just tell God you’re open for more … whatever “more” might be. No commitment, not promising anything. Just say you’re interested in “more.”
- Ask for something. With intercessory prayer, the whole spiritual climate changes.
- “Break the silence” and Say the Name. Jesus is not merely a name. Saying the Holy Name, “Jesus” releases power in that physical space at that moment.
- Change the atmosphere of your neighborhood. Make your daily stroll for exercise an “Intercession prayer walk.” Pick a few streets. Throw prayer at the homes as you walk by.
- Grab a friend and do it with them.
- Read an article about one layperson (Michelle Thompson). She went full carpe diem and started a program to help Catholics overcome their fear of evangelizing. Her Genesis Mission was recently featured in the Archdiocese of Detroit.
- Maybe you’re not being called to something this substantial. You are being called to something. Some 15 minutes in prayer asking God, ”What might that be?”
- Sign up on the U-Evangelize website. Afterward, you can access their “Evangelist Basecamp” beginner evangelization course. It includes the following:
- MODULE 1- Embracing My Identity
- MODULE 2- Committing to Holiness
- MODULE 3- Growing in Courage
- MODULE 4- Using the Tools
- MODULE 5- Persevering in Mission