An important part of Catholic evangelization is showing how you and I live the Catholic faith every day. Revealing the reflection of God’s love for His people – His Family – in the context of our given vocation is a very important part of this “evangelistic modeling.” For many of us that vocation is marriage and family life. But how do we effectively evangelize through and about marriage and family life when it is the very topic of division within our current culture? What makes it even worse is that marriage and family life is a point of division among many people right within the Church.
But if we have the eyes to see it, these challenges provide an excellent opportunity.
If we know our history, we can recognize that the Church today is not facing anything new. In fact, I’m a bit amazed at the assumption by many Catholics that our culture and world should understand and live the truths of our faith. It’s hard enough to live out the truths of our faith when we are working with grace. Why do we expect people living outside of grace would be able or even willing to? It’s never surprising when the “world” falls away from truth. But it’s very important for those of us in the Church to hold fast. It is a true tragedy when we fail to live and promote the truth.
When the culture and the Church clash, Catholics really have three choices.
- We can isolate ourselves and bemoan the fallen condition of the culture.
- We can give up on our “ideals” and join the culture.
- We can see it as an opportunity to grow deeper in the mysteries of our faith and to up our game in the mission of the Church.
Unfortunately, the first two options are our typical response. We see them everywhere in the Church today. That’s one thing the 2014 extraordinary synod of bishops points out in the document <em>Instrumentum Laboris</em>. But when we lay them out like this, the superiority of the third option becomes quite obvious. Let’s take a look at three things that we can do as Catholics to respond to the challenges of our current culture with faith and fortitude.
1. Deepen your relationship with God
You may not realize it (most people don’t), but the reason God calls us to live upright, moral lives – the reason He calls us to love within families – is because of our relationship with Him. There are purely human reasons to support, promote and defend marriage and family life. But the supernatural sacramental meaning of married and family love is the real beauty.
2. Encourage others to deepen their relationship with God before you argue about doctrine.
It is our natural inclination to approach attacks on our faith with argumentation. We want to defend the truth, especially against perceived attacks. While it is important to know how to defend our faith, and to give public reasons for what we believe, the truth is that intellectual reasons don’t often convert the heart. But once people are introduced to Jesus, once they have a relationship with God, they will want to know God’s plan.
3. Learn and live the mystery of marriage and family life deeper and more fully.
A lived mystery is much more attractive than a reasoned argument. What is could possibly be more attractive to people than a married couple who loves God, who is living an active life of faith, and who is actively engaged in the mystery of married and family love? Their lives are a true and living sign of God’s love for the world. Couples in the sacrament of marriage – even with their imperfections and even their sins – have the opportunity to reveal the beauty of God’s love to the world. The is They are an excellent form of evangelistic modeling.
When we fall into either isolating ourselves from culture or becoming conformed to its errors, it’s usually because we start treating our faith like a lifestyle or a social club. When we live an authentic relationship with God, we can embrace the challenge that our culture offers us to rediscover the mystery of married and family love and to live it more deeply.
You can contact Jeff Arrowood at firstname.lastname@example.org