UP Catholic 00 01 2017 E Edition Page 6

6 June 16, 2017 THE U.P. CATHOLIC TRANSFORMING FIRE: PASTORAL LETTER ON EVANGELIZATION www.upcatholic.org Thank you to the Knights of Columbus Councils of the Upper Peninsula for making it possible to publish Bishop John Doerfler's Pastoral Letter on Evangelization in the Diocese of Marquette! their activity directed to the evangelization and sanctification of men and to the penetrating and perfecting of the temporal order through the spirit of the Gospel. In this way, their temporal activity openly bears witness to Christ and promotes the salvation of men. Since the laity, in accordance with their state of life, live in the midst of the world and its concerns, they are called by God to exercise their apostolate in the world like leaven, with the ardor of the spirit of Christ. ( Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People , 2) On all Christians therefore is laid the preeminent responsibility of working to make the divine mes- sage of salvation known and accepted by all men throughout the world. ( Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People , 3) There are innumerable opportunities open to the laity for the exercise of their apostolate of evan- gelization and sanctification. The very testimony of their Christian life and good works done in a supernatural spirit have the power to draw men to belief and to God; for the Lord says, Even so let your light shine before men in order that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matt. 5:16). However, an apostolate of this kind does not consist only in the witness of one's way of life; a true apostle looks for opportunities to announce Christ by words addressed either to non-believers with a view to leading them to faith, or to the faithful with a view to instructing, strengthening, and encouraging them to a more fervent life. For the charity of Christ impels us (2 Cor. 5:14). The words of the Apostle should echo in all hearts, Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel (1 Cor. 9:16). ( Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People , 6) Pope Francis reiterates this teaching. In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary dis- ciples (cf. Mt 28:19). All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of in- struction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by profession- als while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients. The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God's saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are disciples and missionaries, but rather that we are always missionary disciples. If we are not convinced, let us look at those first disciples, who, immedi- ately after encountering the gaze of Jesus, went forth to proclaim him joyfully: We have found the Messiah! (Jn 1:41). The Samaritan woman became a missionary immediately after speaking with Jesus and many Samaritans come to believe in him because of the woman's testimony (Jn 4:39). So too, Saint Paul, after his encounter with Jesus Christ, immediately proclaimed Jesus (Acts 9:20; cf. 22:6-21). So what are we waiting for? ( The Joy of the Gospel , 120) Therefore, sharing our faith with others is an es- sential element of following Jesus . It is not optional. Yet many of us do not know how to share our faith, or feel uncomfortable doing it. I wish to remind you of the power of the Holy Spirit to form us into Spirit-filled evangelizers. One of the best ways for us to share our faith with others is personal wit- ness, that is, when we share with others how Jesus has touched our life like the Samaritan woman did. Personal witness shows that Jesus is alive, that he has risen from the dead and is working in the hearts of people. I encourage all of you to think and pray about how Jesus has touched your life, and how you would share that with someone. Why is Jesus important to you? What difference has Jesus made in your life? To be effective evangelizers, we do not have to go out with placards on a street corner. Evangelization is done through and in relationships, witnessing to what Jesus has done for us, praying with people and accompanying them in their search for truth, and inviting them to join us in spiritual things such as missions, retreats, Bible studies, small groups, and other places where they can encounter Jesus. The Holy Spirit will give us the enthusiasm to evangelize others. As we are open to his inspirations, he will give us a freedom of speaking and relating to each other on a spiritual level, talking about Jesus and our love for him. Learning how to share our faith with others has been one of the most neglected areas of our faith for- mation. We have not been well formed for mission. Therefore, I encourage all parishes, schools and the diocesan curia to incorporate better teaching on how

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