Thursday, August 7, 2008

Evangelization and Discipleship

Describe the evangelizing dimensions of the ministries of the word, worship, and service.
The Word dimension of evangelization consists of reaching out to the world in preaching and catechesis. Both are a form of the same with the difference of delivery. The preaching of the Gospel during the Mass is by the priest which is vital for the growth of the parish community to see the love of God and in Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection as vital in the faith formation. The Homily is so important that it cannot be avoided or abused as some parish priests do. I have personally witnessed a parish priest using the homily time for visiting religious asking for donations, youth mission programs, capital campaigns, and his own agenda which I see as a crime, not just a liturgical abuse since Fr. Hater mentions that this is a time when you have the faithful there right in front of the priest waiting and listening for the message of the Word.
Catechists have a huge responsibility in that unlike the homily during Mass this is a more diverse venue to reach the hearts and minds of the faithful. The formal, systematic, catechesis happens at the parish with religious programs, Catholic schools, teen programs, and adult discussion and study groups. The domestic Church is so vital in this scenario as it is where the true beginnings of learning happens and prepares the children to be able to understand within the systematic catechesis in the parish community. I have heard that the multi-generational “Sunday school” programs are really working and the families are all learning and growing together. Which then helps the adults take what they know to the community in the workplace and with more and more adults and families growing in faith, we could really change society!
Worship is the liturgy and prayer. Basically what is going on in our parishes widely across the US is the Mass has become mundane and base for many families and they have turned away from the Church for the lack of the word part of evangelization. The most central and summit of the Catholic faith is the least respected and lost. It is the parish’s responsibility to reach out and be “fishers of men” again by using all of it’s resources to keep the active parishioners in the pews weekly, bring in those who have fallen away, and teach those who are non-baptized and help them come to realize the truth, hope, and love of Jesus Christ. The Mass is open to all and all are welcome, so that means that that pulpit is the most important element of the Mass for so many in order for them to know that the Altar and the Eucharist is the source and summit of all that is in the Catholic Church.
Service is the fruits of the above 2 dimensions as it meets the physical needs of the community inside and outside of the parish. Jesus came to serve and so must we, but without the true appreciation of the love of God can we seek out and desire to serve for the Kingdom. We had a neighbor that would go out each weekend with a jar of peanut butter and a couple of loaves of bread and make sandwiches for the homeless in Houston, TX. No one knew he did that until he was killed in a freak auto accident and so many poor came to his wake crying and telling his story. We weren’t surprised as he was a very good man and his presence just exuded Jesus’ love when he spoke at neighborhood gatherings etc. He was a Catholic through and through, but he wasn’t a big talker, he lived his Christianity by silent example of service. I am forever changed by knowing him.

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