Evangelization

Evangelization

By Tony G.

What is evangelization?  Evangelization comes from the Greek word “euangelion” which means to spread the good news.  In Roman times this word had a military connotation. It was used to describe the messenger who was sent by the emperor or a king to spread the good news of his military victory.  In the New Testament, St. Paul applied this military term to Christianity.  But instead of bringing the good news of a military victory by a king in this world, St. Paul brings us the good news of the ultimate victory of our Divine King, Jesus Christ, over sin and death, in the next world. Today evangelization means bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to all people and seeking their conversion through the divine power of the Gospel.   In the Gospel of Mark Jesus told his disciples, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole of creation.” Sometimes the greatest barrier to evangelization is ourselves, because we can’t give what we don’t have.  Like St. Paul, are you living the Good News? Do you demonstrate a zeal for the Lord? As you go about your day are people attracted to your joy?   I think we would all agree that our society is in a state of moral decline.  So what are you going to personally do about it? Do you hide your faith in public? Are you ashamed to mention God to your family and friends; and to your coworkers?  If so, pray to the Holy Spirit to give you the courage to boldly proclaim Christ to those around you.  Because we desperately need to bring God back to our society. That being said, evangelization doesn’t mean clubbing people over the head with a Bible. It can’t be forced on someone. In order to convince someone to start a personal relationship with Jesus, we need to first establish a personal relationship with them because people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. Evangelization is about planting a seed of conversion in someone’s heart, then allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to take over. So we need to reach out and meet people where they are at–then gently guide them to Christ with patience and charity.  This could be a long and drawn out process.  But with persistence and prayer miracles do happen.   Let me leave you with one last thought.  In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” So I ask, are you living out the mandate of Jesus to go out and spread the Good News?  Who have you evangelized today in your words and deeds? For Saint Paul Street Evangelization of the Emerald Coast, I’m Tony G. Have a blessed day! 

Are You A Radical

What is it to be radical?

In Bishop Charles J. Chaput’s book Strangers in a Strange Land, he remarks that the word radical comes from the Latin root and that radical ideas speak to the root nature of things. He goes on to compare todays “radicals” as not nearly radical enough- rather, they represent “… the familiar human appetite for power dressed up in progressive-left language. And (they) stand in sharp contrast to the kind of true radicalism demanded by a Christian life.”

Think about that for a moment. Think about how you are a radical and what it takes to follow Christ.

We live for the sanctifying grace of our Lord. We work every day towards actual grace to lead us closer to Him. We strive for and live a grace filled life.What does it mean to live a grace filled life?

Because of God’s grace, we have salvation. That grace is the greatest gift God gave us and second to that is freewill to love Him. To return that love, we have the ability of self-control over our sinful nature, which at times takes tremendous effort and brings us to our knees in humility. And this is where we find and live the graces of God. Grace is not something we can give or take away – obtain without Him- or give without Him. Yes, we can live a sanctified life- be gracious in our dealings- but we have no power over grace- just submission.

The epitome of grace in human form rests with Our Blessed Mother. Spend some time with her today in prayer.

-Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb- Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death- Amen.

A Failed Rescue – Or was it?

21 November 2020 is the 50th anniversary of Operation Ivory Coast

You may have heard of Operation Ivory Coast, the 1970 mission to rescue POWs from a prison camp in North Vietnam. The great men that put together and executed the bold plan came to be known as the “Son Tay Raiders,” after the name of the camp. The team came together and trained diligently for the mission with one thing in mind- free American servicemen from the tortures of a brutal regime. It was all or nothing for those Raiders and each would have given their life for the success of Operation Ivory Coast.

As the Raiders moved in on Son Tay in the dark of night, fully trained for whatever might come their way, they were stunned to find the camp empty. The prisoners were moved. The mission was a failure and as you can imagine, those involved were heartbroken. On the long trip home and for the months that followed, the Raiders talked about the failed attempt and their fear that it would result in even harsher treatment for the POWs. The despair sat heavy in their hearts as they watched the escalation of the war and then subsequent aftermath. It wasn’t until Operation Homecoming and the repatriation of POWs three years later that they learned of the true impact of their heroic efforts.

After the raid – and as the story played out in the media- it was very clear how much the people of the USA cared for the well-being of our soldiers. Despite the growing opposition to the war in America, people wore bracelets with the names of POWs and families pushed congressmen to take action. The NVA and their government clearly understood that what they were doing to our POWs gained international interest and they moved them to much more appropriate facilities and treated them with more dignity. After Operation Homecoming we learned from many of the POWs that conditions improved for them which directly attributed to them surviving the war. This was due in large part to the efforts of those brave Raiders. Those who have thought to have failed.

My family and friends- I want you to know that being a Catholic in these times can be difficult. We often see our efforts to bring love, truth and eternal salvation to others as fruitless, and like the Son Tay Raiders, that can leave us in despair. In fact, I often think that my efforts may have caused a bitterness in someone’s heart towards what it means to be an image of God. Instead of lifting them up towards the face of God, they turn instead to a world of relativism. Much like a commander of a military operation, I need to know the effects of my actions quickly and fully. But knowing the fullness of our actions does not work that way. It takes time- and we may never know while living on this earth what the impact of our words and living in God’s word has done for others. And it doesn’t matter.

Why doesn’t it matter?

Because, as Bishop Fulton Sheen once said “One can never love in a hurry.” I must understand that- and I must move forward in humility that I may not know what fruits I bare, rather know that God does the heavy lifting, I just train and execute. As we call it in the Air Force after a mission “BDA” (bomb damage assessment). For Catholics, that BDA may be slow in coming – and may never come this side of heaven, but it should never stop us from training and executing.

A final note as most of us these days may see what is going on in the world as a defeat of our values and all we hold dear in Christ. Please repost this quote if you want, but at least carry it in your heart as the country swells in anger. From Bishop Fulton Sheen:

“What makes our moment in history arduous is our failure to see the relation between things, so bent have we been on their disruption and destruction. But God never really abandons the world, though the world abandons Him. He can take those very elements of nature which turned against Him, and make them instruments of redemption”

And I always believe He will.

God Bless-

Go to mass

Pray.

Eric

Desire for God

The longing. The pent up frustration and desire for love. The journey we take knowing something is not in line with who we are as humans and what we long for. King David felt this as all humans do and sums it up in Psalms chapter 42. David asks “why are you cast down, o my soul, and why are you disquieted in me?” (Ps. 42:5). 

To many it is an unquenchable thirst proven in the theological virtue of hope that sends us on a journey to find God and what it means to be offered eternal salvation. It can be so overwhelming at times, this virtue of hope, that it drives us to our knees in deep contemplation.  It is exactly in this longing, this searching, and this questioning and dare I say, demand, that we are brought to a deeper realization of an eternal being, a creator and a love beyond earthly measure. Jesus Christ invites us to find hope in the Gospel of John stating “Come to Me all you who thirst…” (Jn. 7:37).

The catechism recognizes that we are religious beings with a craving for God, and in fact states that the “…desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God.” (ccc 27). This desire is seen throughout human history and expressed in various religious practices. As new worlds were being discovered in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, explorers were always amazed at how people, never exposed to Christianity, still had some form of worship for an unseen entity. It was shown to be a basic human desire in all communities. Indeed, to be human is to search for God.

You can find this thirsting in the story of almost every saint. I would argue that you can find this even in every person. However, in today’s culture we are only moved by big dramatic events in our lives.

We wait for something to force us to deal with this thirst. We want a story, something to witness that is so overwhelming we can’t help but go to God.  But let’s get real here. The journey to God takes action on our part. We have to ask ourselves if we truly want truth, happiness and love. We do not have to wait for that. We just have to act. We have to deal with it in a real way.  Get Real and God Bless