Living in America, we are blessed with freedom of religion. This is fantastic, but it means something very different now than it did in the time of the Founding Fathers.
In the 18th century, it meant that religion was protected from the state. Now it means that the state is protected from religion!
There is an intense secularization going on in the U.S. (and probably elsewhere). It’s almost a forceful secularization. All of these pressures force us to be “politically correct” and to drop our religion the second we walk out of church. No one wants to talk religion. It’s ironic…we refuse to talk about the most important thing there is, the thing that everything else hinges on.
I’m guilty of it too, that is, of feeling weird talking about religion in secular places (school, neighborhood, etc.). I’ve grown up my whole life thinking it was taboo. My parents said not to discuss religion or politics with anyone. I’ve been conditioned by society. But lately I’ve been thinking, “Why not?”
So, if it’s appropriate in the context of a particular conversation, I mention that I am Catholic. I’m usually bluntly honest about who I am in all regards, so why not mention my religion, which defines me more than anything else? Also, I figure that I can’t properly witness the faith unless people know I’m Catholic. Letting people know you’re Catholic is a potentially powerful evangelization tool.
Usually people just smile and nod. They, too, are conditioned by society to avoid religious discussion. It’s a pity. Sometimes, though, people ask me about it. (I like that.) So I answer as best I can and try to spread the Good News.
Don’t feel bad about talking religion. Don’t let secular society get you down.
“Those who with God’s help have welcomed Christ’s call and freely responded to it are urged on by love of Christ to proclaim the Good News everywhere in the world” (CCC,#3).
“Mission is a duty about which one must say ‘Woe to me if I do not evangelize’ (1 Corinthians 9:16)…redemption and mission are acts of love [because] those who proclaim the Gospel participate in the charity of Christ” (Pope Benedict, 2008).
“The Church is missionary by nature and her principal task is evangelization, which aims to proclaim and to witness to Christ and to promote his Gospel of peace and love in every environment and culture” (Pope Benedict, 2006).
“Before His ascension, Jesus said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always, yes even to the end of time'”(Matthew 28:17-20).