Weekly Challenge? More like Weekly Conviction. I come to you today very convicted, humbled, but fired up. I was blessed to spend the first week of the year with my students, a few hundred priests, and about 8000 other campus leaders for FOCUS’s SLS18, a leadership and evangelization training conference. I’m still reeling from -25 wind chills and enough Holy Spirit to make your heart explode, but here are my initial thoughts, prayers, and takeaways.
Thank you for your prayers—not only for me but for our students! We had the best time!
New Year, New You, right? Sure. We spend January stumbling through self-improvement... clean eating, new tennis shoes, more quiet time, less bourbon, etc. These are good things, positive changes that will help us to grow, but an odd phenomenon happens in January. We become so focused on self improvement and our inevitable failures we wake up in February with a crick in our neck from navel-gazing.
Don’t get me wrong—-you’ll see a lot of New Year, New You stuff coming out of this blog, but as in all things, we have to live life Both/And. When all of our goals are in hopes that this is the year that we will finally get it together we sometimes miss what is right in front of us—all of God’s other children.
As much time as I spend speaking about Jesus, teaching about Jesus, trying to spend time with Jesus, writing about what pinot pairs best with the Psalms, I am realizing that I do not evangelize with any intentionality. Yikes. I mean there is intent present--I would love all that I come in contact with to take inventory of their lives, commit to striving for holiness, commit their lives to Jesus and live happily ever after... but having that as a general intention without any intentional actions to back it up is kind of... useless. (Like I said, Weekly Challenge, more like Weekly Conviction.) So here’s the Weekly Challenge: New Year, New Worldview... Moving from basic INTENT to Intentionality.
If you're reading this it is either because you are among the ranks of Nieces and Nephews that enjoy following this blog or someone you know shared it with you or facebook stuck it on your newsfeed without invitation... regardless, you have an interest in a post produced by a "Catholic Lifestyle Blog." This tells me that Evangelization (that is to share the good news of Jesus) is something that you have as a general intent or at least curiosity in your life. We take these general intentions and find places to stick them in our crazy, compartmentalized lives--little winks at the Great Commission here or there, checkboxes on a to do list, or a passing prayer intention. We don't always make the shift from general intent to intentionality. Like clicking "Interested" on a facebook event for a concert in 2019... we do care, we'd like more information, but we're not buying the tickets just yet.
"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20
We are all called to be evangelizers through the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), but we just sort of... forget. My professional life is committed to evangelization. It's literally my job description to make lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ. And for many of us that do work within the Church, we see the teaching, the talking, the writing, as the fulfilment of our evangelization intention. Sure, we're always ready to share the reason for our hope, but the intention tends to stop when we leave the office, school, or parish building. When we're home we're off the clock. When we're at happy hour we're off the clock. When we're at the grocery store we're off the clock. But we're not off the clock. Or at least we're called to not punch out.
I was reminded at SLS18 this week that I get really indifferent. I forget to care about the salvation of my brothers and sisters. I forget that I have something in my life that brings me peace, hope, and joy... the love of Jesus--and other people in my circle need that.
Weekly Challenge: Intentionality Inventory
I invite you to reflect with me this week on the question: Am I being intentional in sharing the love of Jesus?
NOTE: This week we are only doing a self-evaluation. Over the next few weeks we will talk about what to do from here. How to be intentional, how to overcome some of our fears and stumbling blocks, and what evangelizing in the everyday looks like. This week is not as much about ACTION as it is about EXAMINATION.
ME & JESUS
Am I spending time with Jesus? One-on-one, not just at mass?
During that time with Jesus do I contemplate the people in my life that need Him or am I just listing intentions?
Am I asking the Lord how He wants me to share His love this week?
Do I think I need to get my house in order, prayer life, etc. first before I can share the love of Jesus with others?
DO I EVANGELIZE WITH INTENTIONALITY
Do I restrict my evangelizing practices to the people I minister to professionally (teachers, ministers, Church Ladies...etc.)?
Do I restrict my evangelization practices to the people in my family? my children? my spouse? but not my neighbors or co-workers?
Do I spend all of my evangelization energy on those one or two family members that are far from the Church? Do I let those arguments--er, discussions--exhaust my interest in evangelizing? Am I ignoring easier conversations with the lukewarm faithful in my circle?
Am I lucky enough to have a lot of friends that are "good Catholics"? Do we ever have intentional conversations about what we are doing to evangelize? Do I support and encourage my Catholic friends to share the Gospel?
When was the last time I had an intentional conversation about Jesus and what He means to me? (That I wasn’t getting paid to have...)
WHAT STOPS ME FROM INTENTIONAL CONVERSATIONS
Do I take opportunities to share truth with friends and family? Even just sharing articles or posts on facebook that are life giving?
Do I awkwardly moonwalk out of conversations that are difficult?
Do I avoid people with opinions about the world or the Church that are different than mine?
Do I partition my friends up as people I can talk to about the faith and people I cannot?
Am I afraid of being annoying or obnoxious? Am I afraid of being preachy? Appearing judgmental?
Am I scared to talk to Catholic friends about Catholic things because then I will have to admit I haven't prayed in quite a while?
Am I scared of saying the wrong thing and being an accidental heretic?
Am I scared to offend?
Have I convinced myself evangelization is the job of priests, missionaries, and bloggers? And my job is just to survive the spiritual life and try to be kind along the way?
Who am I going to share this examination with?
We want people to know you!
Show us who in our lives needs your truth.
Show me who in my life needs an invitation for more.
Show me who in my life can run with me to heaven.
Show me your love and mercy.