Imagine for a moment that your parish is in danger of closing. Donations are down, costs are rising, the priest is needed elsewhere — the bishop has to make a decision.
What to do?
Or perhaps your prayer group is dwindling. Or your third order organization. Or your cenacle.
What is a Catholic to do?
All too often, the answer is parish closure, or the quiet death of a prayer group, or the ending of a ministry. All too often, the laity mourn a lack of support (real or perceived) from the clergy. All too often, we all stand looking rather bewilderedly at each other before we slink off to lick our wounds and wonder what went wrong.
This is not what we are called to do by God or His Church.
We are called, instead, to evangelize.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Mt 28:19-20).
Each one of us, by virtue of our baptism, is called — commissioned — commanded to evangelize.
Just as Adam and Eve in the beginning were supposed to be fruitful and multiply; just as Abram's faith made him Abraham, the father of many nations; just as Moses said that he wished all were made prophets by the Holy Spirit like himself; just as the first disciples were sent out by Jesus to proclaim the Good News of the coming of the Kingdom of heaven among them, so too are we called, commissioned, and sent forth to proclaim Jesus Christ to all the world without cease.
This is not an optional part of the Christian life, but rather is required of all of us.
As Pope Francis said in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, "In our day Jesus' command to 'go and make disciples' echoes in the changing scenarios and ever new challenges to the Church's mission of evangelization, and all of us are called to take part in this new missionary 'going forth.' Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the 'peripheries' in need of the light of the Gospel."
Does that mean we must all go door to door, handing out tracts and pamphlets on street corners, proclaiming fiery speeches and haranguing our neighbors? No! For those who are called to go door to door, God will give them the necessary graces through prayer and the sacraments. Some are called to hand out tracts and pamphlets; some are called to give fiery speeches; some are called to admonish the sinner. But there are many other ways to evangelize; there are many other works of mercy to be performed.
To each their own way of evangelizing, their own work, quiet or loud for the kingdom.
But it must be each. It must be all.
Don't say, "Well, I'm waiting for my priest to tell me what to do." He's probably waiting for you to go out and do what he tells you to do at each and every Mass! In the Scriptures that are read, we hear of the revelation of God. We hear the words and actions of Jesus in the Gospel and are instructed through such writings as the Letters of Paul on what to proclaim, how to proclaim it, how to live our lives as Christians, and encouraged again and again in the homilies to do what we hear.
We are strengthened with the Eucharist to love and serve the Lord with our lives. We are sent at the end of Mass with such dismissals as "Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord," or "Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life."
We have been told what to do. We have been shown how to do it — by reading Scripture and saying our prayers; by listening to the teaching of the Church and practicing it in our lives; by going to Confession and receiving the Eucharist; by our words and our deeds.
We have been inundated with resources:
• the Bible;
• the Catechism of the Catholic Church;
• the writings of the saints, like the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska;
• the teaching of our bishops, priests, and deacons;
• popular works of philosophy and theology;
• programs like the Hearts Afire: Parish-based Programs from the Marian Fathers, the Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy Cenacle program; the John Paul II Institute's Divine Mercy Essentials program, and Divine Mercy for America.
On and on the list goes. This website and others like it offer formation in the faith. Share what you have learned! Host a Bible study, a cenacle, or a prayer group in your home. Pray for the people you meet, for everyone you encounter, for the intentions of your guardian angel and patron saints, for the intentions of the guardian angels and patron saints of everyone around you. Do the works of mercy. Invite your family and friends to join you in those works of mercy that you know will be easy and pleasant for them.
There are so many ways to proclaim the Gospel. None of us has an excuse. All of us have been called.
Go! What are you waiting for? Go, and announce the Gospel of the Lord!