Photo courtesy pixabay.com
If you clicked on this just because you were intrigued by the title, then you have proven my point! “I’ve always thought that guy was a little strange…let’s check this out!” I’d take offense, but I’m glad to be a weird Catholic.
I think one of the “weirdest” things I have participated in is something that I was able to do not too long ago at a parish festival: share my faith with complete strangers. Volunteering with St. Paul Street Evangelization has been both rewarding and very challenging for me spiritually. On the few outings we have had so far, I have found myself thrown out of my comfort zone to engage people about the faith.
“Would you like a rosary, ma’am?”
“How can we pray for you, sir?”
“Have you ever considered becoming Catholic?”
How weird is that? Well, if you’re a Christian, it is your weird commission. As a Protestant Christian, and now as a Catholic Christian, I have always struggled with the command that Jesus gave his disciples, and to us by implication, at the end of Matthew’s gospel (28:19). While living a faithful lifestyle is essential to fulfilling Jesus’ mandate, it’s not all there is. How will people know the truth if we don’t tell them (Romans 10:14)? How will people be able to distinguish your lifestyle from that of any other “good” person? While street evangelization might not be for everyone, it has encouraged me to step out in faith and share with those around me.
I’d like to share with you just a couple of “stories from the street”, as SPSE refers to them, which were encouraging to me, and hopefully will be to you as well:
On the first night of the Parish festival, I met with a man who had several axes to grind with the Catholic Church.
“Why do you call the Pope holy?” he asked.
When I explained that Catholics in no way considered the Pope to be sinless, he resounded with an emphatic “good!” The Pope is “holy” by virtue of his office, I went on the explain, just like when Israel, and now the Church, is referred to as a holy people set apart unto the Lord in the Bible (Deuteronomy 7:6). After walking him through several more grievances (prayers to saints, purgatory, etc.) he shook my hand, took a CD, and we parted ways.
On Saturday, I spoke with a young gentleman who told me he belonged to no particular church or community but that he believed in Jesus. He told me that he just didn’t see the point in going to a specific church to pray. After relaying my own experience with him, of struggling to find the truth about Christ and the church he established, he told me that I had made him want to research the topic more on his own. I pray that he will and that his words weren’t an attempt to escape the conversation (surely not, right?!).
Many other encounters took place during this festival that were fruitful, and they would not have happened without the presence of volunteers willing to spread the faith. So what about you? Ready to be weird? Contact the folks at streetevangelization.com and find a team near you!