Contagious Faith: The Art of Friendship Evangelization

Authored by Carole M. Brown in Issue #3.2 of The Catechetical Review

Although the word "evangelization" has gained greater notoriety among Catholics in recent years, it still gets confused pejoratively with its ugly step-cousin “proselytization.” To proselytize is to apply undue pressure on someone to convert, using unethical means like bribery, threats, or deception. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith offered this comment: “More recently, however, the term has taken on a negative connotation, to mean the promotion of a religion by using means, and for motives, contrary to the spirit of the Gospel; that is, which do not safeguard the freedom and dignity of the human person.”[1]

A good example of this happened during the Irish famine, when Catholics were starving. English landlords would prepare a huge stewpot for all the poor of the estate or village. There was only one catch: in order to get the stew, the person had to renounce the Catholic faith. You can imagine how great a temptation that was, especially during those years of famine and starvation. Pope Benedict XVI said, “The Church does not engage in proselytism. Instead, she grows by ‘attraction.’”[2]

There are a number of legitimate means of evangelization that are sometimes confused with proselytism: going door-to-door, standing atop the proverbial "soap box," or handing out tracts. Not everyone is comfortable with this kind of evangelization because it involves initiating spiritual conversations with strangers, something most of us don’t excel at. However, some people are really good at it!

But the Catholic vision of evangelization involves much more.

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting editor@catechetics.com

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Editor's Reflections: Kerygmatic Catechesis and the New Directory
By Dr. James Pauley
Free The much-anticipated Directory for Catechesis is finally here! So many of us involved in the work of catechetical renewal have eagerly awaited its publication. This directory is the third of its kind, following 1971 and 1997 directories that each proposed a vision for catechesis intended to prepare Catholics to live in the modern world as well-... Read more
An Invitation to a Faithful, Dynamic Renewal of Catechesis
By Jem Sullivan
Free This article explores c hapters 1-2 of the new Directory for Catechesis. The publication of a Directory for Catechesis by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization could not have arrived at a more providential moment as the universal Church seeks a renewal of Christian faith in local churches struggling through the effects... Read more
Becoming Windows for the Light of the Living God
By Brad Bursa
This article explores chapters 3-4 of the Directory for Catechesis. O ne could liken c hapters t hree (The Catechist) and f our (The Formation of Catechists) of the new Directory for Catechesis to a meditation on windows and how they are made. Identity and Vocation of the Catechist In the early Church, those who followed the Way were often called... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now