Monday, September 29, 2014

Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization

by Scott Hahn - published by Our Sunday Visitor, 2014

A Book Review by Father John McCloskey
Scott Hahn is currently perhaps the best-known Catholic evangelizer in the United States — and probably the best American evangelizer since Archbishop Fulton Sheen himself.
A convert and former Presbyterian minister, Hahn is a university professor, lecturer and prolific writer. With God's grace, he has been responsible for multitudes of converts and reverts to the Catholic faith.
His newest book is Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization. Its publication could not be more timely, given Pope Francis' emphasis on reaching those beyond the precincts of our faith.
Or, as Hahn pithily puts it, "You can't keep your faith unless you give it away."
He divides the book according to the three aspects of evangelization: the call, the response and the message. After providing a history of evangelization, Hahn offers practical and natural ways for readers to share their own friendship with Christ in their particular situations.
Hahn first explains how to proclaim the Person of Christ by words and deeds. He then moves on to proclaiming the Church Christ founded — not neglecting a favorite theme of his, the fulfillment of God's covenant with his chosen people, which, of course, holds particular significance for our Jewish friends. (I have a little experience in this — it can work!)
However, the primary field of evangelization, naturally, is the Catholic family. Hahn counsels married couples to "strive to live the vows made on their wedding day."
He continues, "Mothers and fathers must become the primary evangelizers of their children," noting, "In the early Church, stable marriages graced by the sacraments and lived out through mutual support and respect helped make converts of millions. They can do the same today."
Under separate headings he counsels, "Families must become places of prayer," "The Mass must become the center of family life," and "The domestic Church must become a haven of charity."
Hahn quotes from Vatican II's "Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity": "[The laity] share in the priestly, prophetic and royal office of Christ and therefore have their own share in the mission of the whole people of God … [through] activity directed to evangelization and sanctification of men and to the penetrating and perfecting of the temporal order through the Spirit of the Gospel."
Like leaven, laypeople are to influence all of society, since everyone we meet needs the truth and love of the Gospel: "They need our witness. They need to know who they are — that they have a dignity that doesn't depend on how they look or what they do or how much they earn. They need to know truth exists, and they need to know how to love in accord with that truth."
This book is a must-read for all Catholics who love their Savior and want to share their faith with family, friends and, indeed, the whole world.
What a joy it will be for us when we reach heaven and find there (rather than someplace much hotter!) relatives, friends and people we barely remember, thanks to our prayer, words and witness.
First appeared on National Catholic Register in September, 2014.

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