The “E” Word
My friend, Martha, who I have known since kindergarten, received the Vatican II award last night from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee along with 13 others. I attended the event to support her. It is quite an accomplishment. The Vatican II awards were established in 1991 to honor men, women, and young adults who exemplify the Catholic Church’s vision set forth in the Second Vatican Council. It was encouraging and inspiring to hear the stories of so many dedicated lay and religious men and women who have given of their time and gifts to the Church, especially in this unprecedented time as the Church struggles to keep us in the pews. Or bring us back to the pews.
Brandon Vogt, Senior Content Director for Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, has written a book entitled Return. In it, he lists the top three reasons people gave for leaving the Catholic Church according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s study entitled “Faith in Flux: Changes in Religious Affiliation in the U.S.”
Those reasons were:
- Just gradually drifted away from the religion. (71%)
- Stopped believing in the religion’s teaching. (65%)
- Spiritual needs not being met. (43%)
It surprised me that it wasn’t specific instances or negative experiences in the Church that caused them to leave, it was more insidious and almost like a slow death of the seeds of faith that were planted long ago. A longing to nurture and grow those seeds that wasn’t recognized and attended to.
What is needed to sustain, nurture, and grow those seeds of faith? Real encounters with a living, personal God. The anecdote to this spiritual malaise is a personal encounter with the living Christ. We need to provide that for each other in addition to the ways the Church provides.
We are all called to evangelize others in response to our own awakening. I know that “E” word might cause you to pause but there are many ways to evangelize that don’t involve shouting “repent” through a bullhorn on a street corner or even saying the word God. I love this definition of evangelize: “To talk about how good you think something is.”
What if we all talked about how good our lives are when they are tethered to God? How good it feels to know you are never alone in the challenges of life? How restful we can be when we realize we don’t have to be in control? How good it feels to know the joy of second chances? How good it is to know the best is yet to come?
That’s evangelizing! It’s not as hard or involved as you might think. It’s simply telling our stories and not leaving out the main character.
If we all did that regularly, imagine the seeds of faith we might germinate.
** Something old is new again at Firstfruits! Be sure to go back and read the list of events coming up. We are starting a new Well Time, In-Person, November 1. Joan will be facilitating this weekly offering using her blogs to initiate the real and relevant conversations that make Well Time so popular.