Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Saint Pope John XXIII - Seize the Moment and Share Your Faith

Take a moment and look back on your life of faith.  Who was the first person to tell you about God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit? For many, it was a parent, grandparent or close relative.  It may have been a close friend or spouse.  From generation to generation this has been the tradition of the church, originating from the final words of Jesus to his disciples, to “go and make more disciples.”

Continuing this series on the vision of evangelization from our most recent Popes, we turn to Saint Pope John XXIII and the Decree on Mission Activity for the Church (Ad Gentes) written shortly after the close of the Second Vatican Council for inspiration.  “The Mystical Body of Christ unceasingly gathers and directs its forces toward its own growth (cf. Eph. 4:11-16). The members of the Church are impelled to carry on such missionary activity by reason of the love with which they love God and by which they desire to share with all persons the spiritual goods of both its life and the life to come.”  It is because of God’s great love, as Christians we are compelled to share this unconditional love with others. 

But some might ask how do we do this?  It is easy to share faith with others.  However, it takes a little preparation; time in prayer and contemplation. Think about a time in your life when you truly felt the presence of God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit with you.  Perhaps it was a joyful moment, such as a wedding or the birth of a child; or a sad one such as the funeral of a friend or loved one.  Take time to contemplate that moment and once again feel the loving warmth of God, Jesus with you or the Holy Spirit in the room.   Then, consider a way to share this story, including the faith connection and the sacred presence you felt.

Think of a way to tell the story using different time intervals.  Consider increments of 30 seconds, 3 minutes and 30 minutes.  This method helps to be prepared for any encounter. Sometimes there is only the time it takes for an elevator ride, a chat at the water cooler or a cup of coffee for our conversation.    So always be prepared to share. 

Another simple practice for faith sharing may come when someone asks about a sacramental we wear, have placed in our car or is somewhere in our home.  People may compliment us on one of these items, such as a cross necklace, a rosary in the car, or a picture of Jesus in our home.  When this happens it is not only a time to say thank you but a time to share faith.  Take a moment and look at these items in a story telling way.  Let others know in the conversation how this piece came into your life and why it is important in your faith life.  Don’t be surprised if the person you encounter shares a faith story in return.   

From the final lines of the Decree, companionship and encouragement can be found for all of us who share our faith. “The council Fathers together with the Roman Pontiff, feeling deeply their duty to spread everywhere the Kingdom of God, lovingly salute all heralds of the Gospel...”

This article appeared in the March/April issue of Northeast Ohio Catholic Magazine, published by the Diocese of Cleveland in Cleveland Ohio, USA

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