New term New Evangelisation
As we draw near the beginning of term and all the excitement that comes with fresher’s fair and club nights its worth calling to mind what we, as a community, will be doing over the next few weeks and why.
Over the next couple of weeks we will be handing out flyers, standing at stalls, setting up facebook events and a whole host of other advertising campaigns. The question that I’d like to dwell on is why do we do these things and who should be doing them? Why do we advertise our community and how are we part of that community in the first place?
The last question I will address first. We are part of this Catholic Community because at some point someone shared it with us. We were invited, we were called, to become part of it; to attend Mass, to pray together and socialise together, to engage in charitable work collectively. In much the same way that we came to be here the Church also came to be. The Apostles were called by Christ:
“And Jesus said to them, ‘follow me and I will make you become fishers of men,’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him.” Mk 1:17-18
In the same way those Apostles called others and so the story continues right down to us today. We are called by Christ through others to be part of the Universal Church worshiping as a particular group, the University of Nottingham Catholic Community. The key point that I wish to make in light of the weeks ahead is that we were called by Christ but also through others. Over these few weeks of advertising we are doing so much more than simply handing out flyers, we are calling people to be part of a community, the Church visible in this University.
Over the last few months both the Catholic Society and the Chaplaincy have been working hard to get all our advertising ready; producing flyers, improving social media, setting up this blog and booking stalls. However all this work is for naught if the community does not make it its own. This form of missional activity, the sharing of our community with others, doesn’t belong to the committee or to the Chaplaincy alone but to the whole community:
“Such an exhortation seems to us to be of capital importance, for the presentation of the Gospel message is not an optional contribution for the Church. It is the duty incumbent on her by the command of the Lord Jesus, so that people can believe and be saved. This message is indeed necessary. It is unique. It cannot be replaced. It does not permit either indifference, syncretism or accommodation.” Evangelii Nuntiandi
My humble plea over the coming weeks is that all of us will take to heart the call to share the Gospel with others. The task of sharing the Universal Church and the message of Christ is a daunting one and often seen as insurmountable in our own minds. The next few weeks offer a way for us to share Christ with others that is clear and easy. Share the news of his Church here in the University of Nottingham and you share news of him. Share your faith with others through invitation. You don’t need to preach theological treaties, all that needs to be done is the making of a simple offer – come and see:
Live your life in accords with the Gospel and invite others to join our community and they will surely meet Christ. When we celebrate Mass, hold a prayer night or social events, invite your friends. If you see a new event on Facebook share it and invite anyone you know who might be interested. Give up a couple of hours next week to help leaflet and tell people about our community. We have a message of radical hope in this secularised world which we can give to others. We must evangelise and we do so not by preaching but by gift and invitation. A simple offer to join us for a Bethany meal or come and see what our praise and worship nights are all about can be a return to the Church for someone or even the beginning of a lifelong relationship with the risen Lord.
“Without repeating everything that we have already mentioned, it is appropriate first of all to emphasize the following point: for the Church, the first means of evangelization is the witness of an authentically Christian life, given over to God in a communion that nothing should destroy and at the same time given to one’s neighbour with limitless zeal. As we said recently to a group of lay people, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” St. Peter expressed this well when he held up the example of a reverent and chaste life that wins over even without a word those who refuse to obey the word. It is therefore primarily by her conduct and by her life that the Church will evangelize the world, in other words, by her living witness of fidelity to the Lord Jesus- the witness of poverty and detachment, of freedom in the face of the powers of this world, in short, the witness of sanctity.” Evangelii Nuntiandi
Please proactively share the Gospel. Extend the invitation. Spread the Good News of our presence in this University. Embody Christ in all that you do. Give to your friends their salvation. Show them Christ through his Church gathered here and now. It really is as simple as an invitation to a Catholic Society dinner or to a prayer night, a request for them to come to Mass. The Lord will do the work; all we have to do over the next few weeks is provide the invitation.
N.B. This is not the be all and end all of Evangelisation but it is where we can start simply and easily now. If people find this useful I’ll happily write a few follow up blog posts.