Judgment and Evangelization

I’m not precisely sure what my goal is for this post. I haven’t fully reached any conclusions about the issues I’m going to raise, hut I think this topic is worth thinking about: how people perceive us and how that impacts our evangelization efforts.

For a long time, I never gave a second thought to how non-Catholics (who knew I was Catholic) viewed me. I was aware of the prejudices some people have against Catholicism, but the people I was dealing with are reasonable people: they wouldn’t have those prejudices, right?

Upon further reflection, I think many do have these prejudices, but they are either too polite to verbalize anything or don’t really realize that they’re making assumptions. Honestly, “assumptions” is a much better word for my purposes than “prejudices.” The term “prejudices” implies some sort of malicious intent, which often isn’t the case. People are very subtly fed lies about the Catholic Church by the media and the secular world at large. (I think this is also a reason why many people in my age group are turned away from the Church; we are exposed to a great deal of secular media all the time, and if you aren’t well-versed in your faith, it’s easy to be fooled by lies, often unintentionally told, about the Church.)

What do I think is one of the biggest problems plaguing innocent Catholics who are trying to evangelize? The perception that Catholicism is somehow inherently judgmental. We certainly can learn from this perception; after all, I don’t think that perceptions come from nowhere. Some Catholics are blatantly judgmental. Many of us can think or act judgmentally without knowing it. Also, the mere act of striving for sainthood might give you a “holier-than-thou” image.

We want people to know we’re Catholic, right, so that we can witness to them? But the minute you say you’re Catholic, people start subconsciously assuming things. In the past, I used to basically be like, “Hi, my name is <my name here> and I’m Catholic!” because I am so excited about my faith. Bad idea, guys. Let them know you’re normal first. Make sure they find out for themselves what type of person you are before you say you’re Catholic. Then, when they find out you’re Catholic, it might challenge the perceptions they have about our faith.

 

Oftentimes people whom I know swear will clean up their language around me. Guys, it’s really not necessary; it’s sweet of you, but I can handle it. I’ve even had one person say to me, “I tend to cuss a lot. I know you’re Catholic; will you be offended if I cuss around you?” I honestly don’t understand these situations well. Do people think I’ll judge them if they swear? Do people think I’m some goodie-two-shoes whom they can’t relate to? Either way, for the sake of evangelization, I’d rather be perceived as (and authentically be) non-judgmental and relatable. Amusingly, some people will accidentally say something scandalous (not really that scandalous) around me, and then they’ll look over to me first in a kind of panicked way. I try my best to just laugh it off. If I’m silent with regards to what they said, I automatically seem judgmental. If it were super scandalous and harmful, it would make sense to say something, but usually it isn’t that bad.

I feel like I’ve been doing something right lately because people swear around me now and talk about being drunk. Seriously, this is a good sign! I know there’s some irony in that, but it shows that people don’t think I’m going to judge them.

To an extent, we can’t really do anything about how people perceive us based on our Catholic identity. But here’s what I think we can do:

  1. We can pray for humility so that we are authentically not as judgmental. We can also pray to be self-aware enough to realize when we are being judgmental. Good for the soul as well as evangelization.
  2. We can always give people the benefit of the doubt. I think that the more we realize how broken we are and the more we experience our own hard times, the more we realize how much people’s circumstances impact their actions.
  3. We can genuinely love others even if we disagree with their lifestyle choices.

In summary, don’t be this guy:

Matthew 7:3

Matthew 7:3

picture credit: http://www.newsrealblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/eyelog1.jpg

 

 

“Catholic” Means “Universal” … even at a secular college!

Without disclosing where I go to college, let’s just say it’s highly secular…  

…which is why I was a little worried in the months leading to my college debut. 

Were my beliefs going to be questioned the minute I moved in? Were professors going to subtly bash religion? Would I be surrounded by ardent atheists? Would I be able to stand up to all of this?

All that worry for nothing! I’ve found my faith life mixing with my academic life and social life more than ever before at the wonderful secular college I now call home!

  1. People, especially agnostics, like to talk about religion. College (at least my college) isn’t like the regular world where people gasp when you mention the word “God” among them. People have a genuine intellectual curiosity, and they want to know the truth about the world. Talk about evangelization opportunities! 😀 So I go to Mass on Sundays with all my agnostic and almost-leaving-the-Church Catholic friends. 😀
  2. I do most of my studying at the Catholic Center. A lot of other people do too. So I’ve made a lot of good friends of all class years that way. Studying at the Catholic Center also puts me in the right place to go to activities at the Catholic Center that day, like Bible studies and discussion groups and daily Mass and guest speaker presentations. So my academic life is interspersed with study breaks that are spiritually fulfilling and often quite intellectual. 😀
  3. The Catholic Center also has a lot of social events. So while my peers are getting blacked-out-drunk on Friday and Saturday, I’m happily and soberly playing games, watching movies, and baking cookies at the Catholic Center. 😀

Now I know why “catholic” means “universal”! Catholicism works everywhere!   

How to Evangelize Young People

I’ve been on so many awesome retreats lately! For one of the retreats I was not only a participant, but also held a leadership position. Initially, I thought my duties as a leader might detract from my own experience. I learned that that is entirely untrue. My experience was enriched as a leader.

There really truly is nothing more fulfilling than helping others in their faith. I definitely wouldn’t have been ready to take on this role a couple of years ago. I am now at a point where I am comfortable enough with my Catholic faith that I am ready to share with others.

Here are what I see as the keys to evangelizing young people:

1) Be joyous. Others will wonder why you’re joyous and when they find out the cause of your joy is Jesus, they will want to find joy in Him too.

2) Be a people-person. Talk to tons of people and have a genuine interest in them. Try really hard to remember their names. Evangelization is all about relationships. Make lots of friends. They’ll see that you’re nice and will link that niceness to your Catholic faith.

3) Don’t be afraid to be goofy. Throw all self consciousness aside, especially in the retreat setting. Do the goofy dance moves that go with songs. Have an over-abundance of team spirit if you’re split into groups. Others will sense your enthusiasm and link it to a love of Catholicism.

4) Be devout in front of the Blessed Sacrament, at Mass, etc. Others will emulate this and understand the importance of God.

L’Évangélisation: en France et aux États-Unis (with English translation)

(ENGLISH TRANSLATION AT BOTTOM OF PAGE)

Bonjour aux catholiques du monde francophone! Je suis américaine, et je prend français à l’école. Mon français n’est pas très bon, alors je voudrais demander pardon en avance pour mes erreurs.

Mon blog est en anglais pour la plupart, mais peut-être je devrais faire quelques postes en français de temps en temps.

Maintenant: la poste pour aujourd’hui…

Puisque j’aime le français et le catholicisme, j’ai cherché des vidéos au sujet des choses catholiques en français sur YouTube. Et j’ai trouvé ça!: http://youtu.be/7xq-ZJaj7qc
Si vous comprenez le français (ou si vous êtes comme moi et comprenez des parties), regardez ça s’il vous plaît; c’est très chouette.

Après le voir, j’ai des nouvelles idées sur comment nous faisons d’évangélisation. Dans le vidéo, il y avait de jeunes catholiques qui sont devenus missionaires. Après apprendre comment à être missionaires, ils sont allés aux rues! Ils ont salué des gens, ils les ont invités à l’église, et ils les ont donnés de petites papiers avec information au sujet des festivales et des concertes catholiques! Et la chose la plus importante: ils ont partager leur foi avec les personnes. Pourquoi est-ce que nous ne faisons pas ces choses aux États-Unis? ÇA c’est d’évangéliser la culture!

En générale, je trouve qu’il y a plus de resources sur Internet pour des jeunes catholiques en français qu’en anglais. Par exemple, il y a <> sur YouTube qui est très amusant. (Pour une épisode: http://youtu.be/PWdDRHN6r0U)

Les États-Unis, le pays que j’aime: Tirez des jeunes à l’Église! Soyez comme l’autre pays que j’aime: la France!

In English:

Hello to the Catholics of the French speaking world! I am American, and I take French at school. My French isn’t good, so I apologize for my errors in advance.

My blog is mostly in English, but maybe I should do posts in French from time to time.

Now: the post for today:

Because I love French and Catholicism, I looked for videos in French on Catholic stuff on YouTube. And I found this: http://youtu.be/7xq-ZJaj7qc
If you understand French (or if you’re like me and understand parts of it), watch this please. It’s really cool!

After seeing it, I have new ideas about the way we evangelize. In the video, there were young Catholics who became missionaries. After learning how to be missionaries, they went to the roads! They greet people, they invited people to the church, and they gave them little papers about Catholic festivals and concerts! And the most important thing: they shared their faith with the people. Why don’t we do these things in the US? THAT’S evangelizing the culture!

In general, I find that there are more resources on the Internet for young Catholics in French than in English. For example, there’s “The Cathologue” on YouTube that is very amusing. (For an episode: http://youtu.be/PWdDRHN6r0U)

USA, the country I love: draw young people to the Church! Be like the other country I love: France!

Evangelizing Through Beauty: A commentary by Fr. Barron

I am a huge fan of Fr. Robert Barron’s ministry Word on Fire. Here’s one of his most recent video commentaries. He talks about how when evangelized, people are drawn in first through the Beauty of Catholicism. Then they see the Good (morals) of Catholicism. Finally they see the Truth of the faith.
As I was watching this awesome video, I was thinking, “That’s exactly how it was for me!! What a coincidence!” At my Confirmation, I was amazed by the beauty of the sacrament. Then I started looking into Catholic moral teachings and was further impressed. But part of me still couldn’t deal with teachings on abortion, the Real Presence, etc. But then I saw the TRUTH in Catholicism!!!