If I were to tell someone I was Catholic, would it be a surprise to them? Would they say, “I had no idea!”. or would they say, “What else is new?”. It is the job of every Catholic to make sure those around them know they are a Catholic. I do this by living the faith. A big part of living the faith is teaching others the Catholic faith. Another name is evangelism, which means “spreading the Gospel”.
Teaching of Others can be scary to do because it opens me up for attack. Some people are against religion so much, they will not hesitate to attack Catholics. This can happen both directly and indirectly. Directly, someone might lash out at me when I say I’m pro-life. Indirectly, a boss might promote a co-worker over me even though I earned it more just because he has a negative feeling about my Catholic beliefs. This can even be subconscious. How many times has a celebrity used racist words and regretted it? It was subconscious. They didn’t even think about it until people called them out on it.
Ideal 3.1: I should teach through my words.
This is the most obvious way to teach. It’s what a teacher at school does. They have knowledge of some subject, and they teach all they know to their students. In my regular prayer and study, I will learn a lot about the faith. I shouldn’t hold that back. I should give it freely to everyone around me. Most things I study go in one ear and out the other, but some of them stick. This stuff randomly crosses my mind in conversations. I can call on that knowledge to explain the key to happiness. That’s what the Catholic faith is. Everyone wants to be happy. I just need to explain it in a way people can understand.
Most important of all, I better be following my own words. No one likes a hypocrite. Even Jesus criticized them. I can’t be a hypocrite. If I tell people they should be helping the poor, I better be able to give examples of when I’ve helped the poor in the past. Otherwise, all my words of instruction will ring hollow. They will come to the conclusion that I am a hoax and reason, “Best to ignore anything he says.” This ties in with Ideal 3.2 below.
Ideal 3.2: I should teach through my actions.
Kids learn a lot from how their parents act in various situations. The same can happen when Catholics perform good actions in the world. I don’t even have to speak. If a person sees me volunteering all the time, they have a pretty good idea what kind of person I am. Everyone wants to be happy. If they see that volunteering gives me great happiness, they may one day decide to take up volunteering themselves with the hope of gaining the same happiness.
My inaction can also teach. Maybe someone goes out drinking every night and is rarely happy. Then, they see me never going out drinking, and I seem to be always happy. They might think “They’re not drinking and they’re much happier than me. Maybe I shouldn’t drink too.”
Ideal 3.3: I should teach friends and family.
It should be obvious that I should teach my loved ones in the faith. If I truly love them, I want them to be the most happy they can be. That can only happen if they are Catholic and living the Catholic way just as I am. If they are Catholic, I can be very specific about how they should change. I should try not to nag though. I should make sure they know my stance, but I shouldn’t have to remind them over and over. A reminder every so often is enough. If they aren’t Catholic, it takes more skill to explain. I can still engage in debates. I just need to be nice about it. I should make sure I am doing it out of love, not to cause harm. The goal is to help them get to heaven.
Ideal 3.4: I should teach acquaintances and strangers.
My family and friends will not usually get angry about criticism. They know I am only trying to help. That’s not always the case with acquaintances and strangers. I should gauge their response to my words. If the slightest criticism causes them to launch into a tirade against me, I need not press them further. I should pray for them. I should ask God to fill them with the Holy Spirit, to see the truth. Then, I should leave it in His hands. I will know it worked if they apologize. I should also apologize saying something like, “I’m sorry too. I didn’t know you had such strong feelings about that issue. I didn’t mean to anger you. I was just trying to help you. I am available if you ever want to talk more.”
Things don’t always have a happy ending though. Sometimes bitter feelings will remain. That is one of the risks Catholics have to take. Some people do not want to change. Anyone that says anything against their beliefs is an enemy to them. The Catholic way really is a hard path to follow. A lot of people are not ready for it. Hopefully they are ready later in life.
Bible Studies and retreats are two easy ways to teach strangers. I might already be an expert on a subject, but I can join anyways to help those that are still learning. These are structured events specifically made for teaching others. I shouldn’t be a show off though. Giving other members a “holier-than-thou” impression is a quick way to discourage them from showing up again.
Ideal 3.5: Whenever someone asks what I did over the weekend, I should always mention attending Mass.
It can be easy to skip over weekly Mass when it is a habit. It seems so ordinary, but it really isn’t. Mass is what reinvigorates me for the rest of the week. Saying I go to church is a great opportunity. If it’s a first time meeting, I can give a short explanation of the Catholic faith. If it’s someone I already know, I can use it as an opportunity to invite them to Mass. I don’t have to go out of my way for this. I should meet them at the back of the church before Mass. Then I should show them where I like to sit. Most people are not going to explore Mass if they aren’t already a believer. They probably won’t go unless they have a friend to sit with and guide them during the Mass.
Ideal 3.6: It is sometimes okay to be silent.
Jesus was silent some of the times he was questioned by the Sanhedrin. If I know a person has a history of attacking Christians, I do not always have to respond depending on the situation. If, for example, he or she directly asks, for example, “Do you believe in God?”, I absolutely must answer with a “yes”. However, if he or she only speaks indirectly such as, “Abortion is a woman’s right”, I can remain silent without committing any sin. My life has a purpose. I should not be reckless with it. This is especially true if I have family or other people that depend on me.