“Conversion requires convincing of sin, it includes the interior judgment of conscience, and this, being proof of the action of the Spirit of Truth in man’s inmost being, becomes at the same time the start of a new grant of grace and love” — Blessed John Paul II, DeV 31; CCC 1848
“I can’t believe he just said that!” was my friend’s remark some time ago when describing a guest speaker sharing his conversion story about how he came back to the Catholic Church. His audience was a group of seven to twelfth graders participating in parish retreat. Naturally hooked by her statement, I asked her what made the speakers comments so unbelievable. The speaker, she related:
- Described in detail (the negative things that occurred) that led him away from the Catholic Church.
- Described how the negative actions of an individual in Church authority led him to reject the Church for a period of time.
- Made disparaging remarks about the individual in question and was explicit in his depictions.
- Was triumphant in explaining his return to the Catholic Church offering no initial visible evidence of how Christ worked through this difficult chapter in his life.
Needless to say, my friend was upset at the approach this guest speaker took in describing his return to the Catholic Church. She commented that the teenagers in the room appeared to have had a difficult time relating to the speaker through their obvious disinterest in the speakers conversion story. They were left wondering if the speaker was going to pop a blood vessel with his continual rant about his life in the Church.
Whenever we have the opportunity to share our love for Christ and the Catholic Church several things should be taken into account. Exercising the virtue of Prudence is a good start. Faced with an opportunity to convey the Catholic faith to others, prudence allows us to carefully reflect how instrumental Christ’s love has been in our lives while at the same time discerning how to reveal this love in an authenticly charitable way.
St. Peter reminds us of a simple way to share our love for Jesus Christ by emphasizing the virtue of hope with gentleness and reverence while at the same time keeping our conscience clear (3:15-16). Whether you are returning to the Catholic faith after being gone for some time or finally coming home to the Church from another denomination, how effectively we relay the message of our relationship with Jesus Christ is fundamental in how we authentically witness to others.
Sharing your Story
An important point to consider is that our story stems from God’s story. We are part of God’s plan by nature of our creation in His image and likeness. God chose to reveal His love through a virgin woman who knew no sin to bear His only-begotten Son. We cannot and should not fall into the temptation that our story stands alone, away from Christ. Jesus Christ the Son of God could have easily decided against using twelve men as His Apostles to continue the missionary journey Christ was establishing on earth. However he chose to invite these men in essence to continue the proclamation of the Gospel after His Ascension into Heaven.
St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans that we are not only baptized into Christ we are also baptized into His death (6:3). Simply put, our identity reflects the Paschal Mystery which in turn reflects our call to authentically witness the faith and be a living model of catechesis for all.
Here are ten basic tips on sharing your Catholic faith with others.
- Be humble in your desire to share the faith with others. Don’t force the issue (Mt 6:1-4).
- Know your audience — take time to prudently assess how things like age, educational level or background will affect what your hearers will understand regarding your testimony. Don’t assume they know what you are talking about (Mt 4:23-5:12).
- Be authentic, say what you mean, and mean what you say. We all struggle with sin (Hebrews 5:1-10).
- Hand on the Deposit of Faith in your testimony, keeping in mind what has been revealed by Christ in faith and morals through Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1 Tim 6:20).
- Immerse yourself in prayer (Mt 6:1-15).
- Recognize your limitations due to sin (Rom 7:13:-20).
- Be hopeful in your testimony. (1 Pt 3:15-16). Consider this moving scene from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers where Sam, Frodo’s trusted friend shares his faith that there is still good in this world. Regardless of the evil that is present around them, Sam displays an undying hope that good will prevail.
- Immerse yourself in Sacred Scripture studying the beauty of God’s word and sharing it with others (Acts 8:26-32).
- Call upon the Blessed Mother for guidance and direction. She is the Queen of Heaven and of Earth.
- The Holy Eucharist should serve as the heart of any opportunity to share the faith with anyone who will listen (Jn 6:41-72). One preacher put it this way: “Before you talk to man about God, talk to God about man.” Bring your concerns about those to whom you witness to our Eucharistic Lord in Mass and Adoration.