I was on a Catholic Homeschooler’s board the other day when someone posted an article titled, “Let’s Talk About Jesus.” It commented on how it often seems like Catholics do not talk about Jesus, how we get so caught up in discussing abortion, Church history, apologetics etc… that we forget the main reason why we’re even discussing those items: Jesus.
It made the observation that often times Catholics are prone to get caught up in the intellectual side of their faith, in fact we almost hide behind it, forgetting about the simple, spiritual side. I took from it the impression that we often forget to be intimate with Christ. Yes, intimate: marked by close acquaintance, association or familiarity. It would almost appear as though some Catholics fear that intimacy, perhaps a holdover from days past when we were taught to revere God out of fear, that too much familiarity with Christ, our Lord, was disrespectful.
It was an interesting discussion that followed, to say the least. I found the discussion took a twist where many people were defending how demonstrative they believed themselves to be about their faith. One of the most frequent responses was, “Well, what more do we need? I cross myself in public, I have a statue of St. Francis in the my garden, a statue of Mary in my house, I have a crucifix over my dining room table, I use the sacramentals, I celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday – I share my faith through these.”
To me, those are all well and good. However, when you’re trying to teach others about your faith, it’s safe to assume that the people you are trying to reach, aren’t the ones who see you genuflecting, or using the Holy water, or partaking of Christ’s body. The people you’re supposed to be trying to reach may see your statues, your crucifix, they may see you crossing yourself – but if they don’t know what that means, what those images represent, what good have you done? They may know you’re Catholic, but to them, that’s a word only. They don’t know the depth that that word carries, the truth, the beauty.
And while it may not be exactly what the article was talking about, I still think it’s a good point. These “signs” of our faith are wonderful, but without backing them up through our actions, and what’s more – our words, they’re meaningless to others. We should be more open with our words, sharing why we cross ourselves, why we have a statue of Mary or Jesus, why we say the rosary, why the Eucharist is so much more to us than just bread and wine. In today’s world where the Catholic faith is so often misunderstood, where the Christian faith is decreasingly valued to the point of being looked down upon and mocked, perhaps if we were more verbally open with others, so many of the misconceptions about our faith could be dispelled.
We’re commanded to share our faith, and we can’t keep relying on the hope that people will absorb our faith through osmosis, that our rosaries and statues will rub off on them. By all means, we should continue living our faith through good works, continue displaying our faith through our sacramentals, but we also need to recognize that we also need words. We need to speak. We need to become verbally intimate with Christ, and we need to share that. If you want to call it evangelizing, so be it, just remember this verse:
“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the Good News to the whole creation.” Mark 16:15, NRSVCE
Merriam-Webster defines proclaim as: to declare publicly, typically insistently, proudly, or defiantly and in either speech or writing.
So go, proclaim your faith, in words, as we’re commanded to do. There’s never been a time of greater need.