All posts by Family Missions Company

Compelled by Jesus' missionary mandate, and filled with the Holy Spirit, Family Missions Company missionaries proclaim Jesus Christ and His Gospel to the poor. Always working in concert with the pastors of the Catholic Church, we strive to live the Gospel that we preach. We believe the Lord is calling many Catholic lay people, both singles and families, to serve in foreign missions, "the greatest and holiest duty of the Church." The need is urgent; we must go!

The Power of an Invitation // Do the Incredible

As I watch this video, I wonder how many men are bored with their lives. I remember I was. I was still in the Air Force, hungry for something more, but I didn’t know what it was. I wanted my life to mean something. I think all men want to do something great with their lives. I think it’s wired within us. I don’t know of too many men who wake up saying, I want to be mediocre, I want a boring life.

I see a lot of men today trying to save their lives, their lifestyle, their comfortability, but in doing so, are bored, maybe even lifeless. Feeling trapped in a job they don’t like, but feeling it’s their only option because they are in debt trying to pay off a degree that led them to this “dream” job.

Man Enough? 2_Man Enough Countdown Day1 copyYesterday as we celebrated Pentecost, I thought about those first twelve men. I wonder if they were bored being fishermen and tax collectors, they too, feeling trapped that this was their only option. This is what all the men in their family had done for a living. It’s been in the family for years, how could they leave this job and do something else? Then they encountered Jesus. Game changer. One invitation. Come and follow me. They left everything and followed him.

As I read the gospels and the stories in Acts of the Apostles, I wonder if they were bored with their lives. Healing the sick, helping thousands to come to know the love of the Lord. Watching Jesus perform miracle after miracle, raising the dead. If you have been waiting for the invitation, here it is. Come. Do something incredible with your life! Become a foreign missionary, and never be bored or unsatisfied again!

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” – Matthew 16:25

By Erik Martin: Catholic Missionary

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Pope Francis’ Missionary Impulse: a Transformation I Didn’t Want

By Sarah Summers Granger

“I dream of a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything.” – Pope Francis

Sarah on Mission in Mexico on MountianTen years ago, I didn’t want a transformative impulse. I wanted stability, peace, a small dose of the Holy Spirit – just enough to keep me on the straight and narrow.

After all kinds of turmoil in my life had started to settle, I sat at a local conference in Lafayette, Louisiana, hoping for divine confirmation of my plans:  graduate school, a comfortable home to raise my children by myself, a quiet life avoiding sin, enough prayer to keep my kids from making the mistakes I made. Though I loved Paul’s exhortation in Romans not to conform to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of my mind (Romans 12:2), I still struggled with wanting to conform, to blend in as much as possible. Fortunately for me, the fiery woman preaching that day spoke of complete surrender to the Holy Spirit. And looking straight at me, she spoke the words I have never been able to shake: 

“Millions of people are dying and going to hell, and you have the words of eternal life. Open your mouth!”

Immediately, this call to missionary transformation made me feel uncomfortable. Actually, I felt like I had been slapped in the face. I knew that she was right about the dying and going to hell part. My own failings had confirmed for me that, truly, “the wages of sin are death.” So, on the one hand, I was 100% in agreement with the preacher. The world desperately needed people willing to proclaim the saving power of Jesus. 

General Cepeda MexicoGrowing up as a Catholic foreign missionary, I had seen the need in faces and families hungry for Jesus. I had seen the miraculous transformation in souls touched by the Gospel; hearts on fire with love for God and one another; lives given in service to God, each other, and the poorest of the poor. So my hesitation to open my mouth and lead others to eternal life lay not in a lack of conviction that missionary transformation was necessary; no, my hesitation lay within myself.  I was no longer worthy, and certainly no longer called to proclaim Jesus. I had messed up, big time.  I had drifted and ran from my faith. After growing up loving and serving Jesus, I had fallen. I had given in to materialism, immodesty, drinking, swearing, selfishness, despair. My marriage had ended in divorce. I was simply unworthy to be a missionary of any kind, especially the kind that speaks of salvation. Yes, I had been gloriously saved from my miserable sinful life. I had repented, confessed, and was struggling to be holy. I was seeking an annulment, working for FMC, a Catholic missionary company.  I planned to serve God in some way that didn’t require any exposure on my part. 

Me, a missionary? No. I couldn’t proclaim Christ. I couldn’t “open my mouth.” I was too humble, I convinced myself,  and too inadequate.

“You have the words of eternal life.” The words of the Gospel – that Jesus loves and saves us, calling us to repentance, sanctification, service – I knew these words were true. They echoed in my soul, and suddenly my “humility” and “inadequacy” looked more like fear of the consequences of total surrender to God’s plan, and prideful distaste for the thought that if somebody called me a hypocrite I would have to admit my complete failure and point only to God’s boundless mercy and forgiveness.  If I opened my mouth to proclaim Jesus, to offer His salvation to the lost and suffering, I would be nothing. Jesus would be everything. The Holy Spirit, not my own capabilities, would be my only hope for reaching even one person – much less the “millions” the speaker referred to.

sarah in mission4-2editedThe impulse to missions drove me to say yes to an invitation to serve as a missionary in rural Mexico. As a  single Mom with three kids, I struggled to convince myself that my failures were not an impediment to the Gospel.  I told the parish priest that I had fallen into sin in my adult life, that my marriage had failed, that I did not consider my past to be “a good example.” He simply said, “Nobody else is waiting in line to do this, Sarah. If you don’t serve the people here, nobody will.” 

So I gave up my nice, safe, sensible plans and let God transform everything in my life and use me. If I didn’t do it, nobody would. This truth hit me every day as I embraced the crazy new plan into which the missionary impulse was pushing me.  When I walked around town pushing my baby in a stroller, visiting shut-ins and praying with them, bringing them medicine, blankets, food – no one else was lining up for that privilege. When my daughters stood beside me as I introduced the Bible for the first time to lifelong Catholics, grown men and women who listened wide-eyed for the first time to the stories of the miracles of Jesus – no one else showed up to help them know the faith they tried to live.

Alyse Giving Testimony-2editedEven more astounding to me was how my weakness drew others to Jesus. When I held the shaking hands of women begging for prayers for relief in their abusive marriages, my own wounds were transformed into strength as I was able to offer empathy in lieu of pity, prayer and counsel grounded in experience. The missionary impulse transformed everything in my life – my plans, my past, my fear, my family.  I believe it transformed the town and villages where we served.  The words of eternal life in scripture saved my life. 

As my Dad, a fearless preacher, says, “We serve a real God who does real things for real people.” My real God saved me from hell, both the hell of my sins and countless failings in this life, and eternal hell in the next life through His merciful grace. He opened my mouth to share with those who had nobody else to share with them.

I didn’t want a missionary impulse to transform me ten years ago, but I needed one. Pope Francis longs for every Catholic to experience this impulse. What about you?  What has Jesus done for you?  Are His words, His life giving words of mercy, grace, forgiveness and healing in your heart? Who at your job, your home, in your family, or on the other side of the world is waiting for you to open your mouth?  Are you afraid? Inadequate? Perfect! Get ready for transformation.sarah on mission home visit3-2edited

By Sarah Summers Granger


 

Want to be inspired, challenged, and fueled in your missionary transformation? Want to move beyond fear and get out there to share your faith? Join us at Proclaim 2014: the Catholic Missions Conference November 1st-2nd in Lafayette, LA!

Pope Francis’ Dream for the Church: What Would Happen!

So apparently I am not the only one who loves Pope Francis! Of course it is one thing to like someone and another thing to follow them and what they ask of you! I was very blessed that his monthly evangelization intention for the month of July was for the laity, serving around the world as missionaries! What an amazing confirmation to our call as missionaries serving around the globe.

Family Missions Company, Pope Francis, July Intention,

In his recent (and first) Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis lays out a powerful missionary vision for the Church, “I dream of a ‘missionary option’, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.”

Then he asks “What would happen if we were to take these words seriously? We would realize that missionary outreach is paradigmatic for all the Church’s activity.”

Our Holy Father isn’t timid about articulating a bold new missionary age for the Church, mentioning “mission” or “missionary” a total of 129 times, and entitling the first chapter “The Church’s Missionary Transformation.” Although this is perhaps the most overwhelming theme of his first papal exhortation, you wouldn’t know it by most of the press coverage, both secular and Catholic.

Here at Family Missions Company we couldn’t be more pleased with the Pope Francis’ missionary vision for the Church. In fact, I believe you would be hard pressed to find a place where this vision is more totally embraced and lived out than right here at Family Missions Company! We are seeing what does happen when Jesus’ Great Commission is taken seriously, and it is AWESOME to behold!

  • Here in the States, 250 youth encountered Jesus at our annual Faith Camp, 215 participants of our first ever Proclaim Catholic Missions Conference left with a deeper passion for missions, and thousands more heard the Gospel message shared on retreats, conferences, university campuses and in church pews around the country.
  • We hosted over 300 people on 10 short-term mission trips to 6 different countries!
  • Thanks to all our generous benefactors we built 90 floors for poor families, built or renovated 37 homes for as many families, repaired 3 water wells for 3 desert communities, donated 25 pigs to 25 families in need, and 3 chapels, and helped with tens of thousands of dollars in medical needs for the poorest of the poor!
  • Over 900 Typhoon Haiyan affected families found physical relief and spiritual support at the hands of our missionaries!
  • More than 500 bibles were distributed, 23 marriages were blessed, 26 souls were indelibly marked by the waters of baptism, 1 RCIA program was started in the diocese of Pune so that Hindus and Muslims can encounter the embrace of Jesus in the Catholic Church!

Perhaps most encouraging is the 38 new missionaries who were trained this year and have been pouring out their lives in God’s service in Ecuador, Mexico, the Philippines, India and China these past 7 months!

We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, together we can transform the world! It is my hope and prayer that the missionary impulse desired by Pope Francis would grip our hearts and compel us to an even greater commitment to the missionary mandate of Jesus.  

There is much left to do; 5,000,000,000 people are still waiting in darkness for the light of Christ to dawn for them! 

By Joseph Summers

Director at Family Missions Company

 

True Mission or a “Poverty Vacation:” Are Mission Trips a Waste of Money?

By James Franke

Mission Trips a Waste? Poverty VacationsI’ve heard the argument a hundred times, phrased a hundred different ways. It all boils down to the same basic mentality: short term mission trips, those eight to ten day “poverty vacations” are nothing more than a waste of time and money used to make students, young adults, and families sacrifice one of their yearly get aways to make them “feel good” about themselves, a little self-help trip. 

But is this true?  If so, what is the alternative? If not, why do so many believe it to be?

Having dedicated the last three years of my life to organizing and leading short term mission trips, this thought, needless to say, rubs me the wrong way. Do I think that every mission trip is perfect? Absolutely not. Do I think that there are some mission trips that do nothing more than use the people and culture of a place as a form of shock therapy, so that the missionaries go home “changed” and “more appreciative” of all that they have? Absolutely… and I think that, if that is all it does, is horrible.  However the fact that some mission trips are abused and poorly done does not mean that ALL of them are.  This is the first part of a series of blogs devoted to answering the questions frequently asked about  short term mission trips. 

Are Mission Trips a Waste of Money?

The first argument against short term mission trips is the economic one. “The cost of a mission trip ($900 a person x 20 people = $18,000) is too much, it would be better to send the money somewhere and stay home.” It sounds like a good thought, however the reality is much more than “stay home and send money”.

The first solution to this is to go on a mission trip with a group that is not a business! Some mission organizations exist to evangelize and serve the poor (www.fmcmissions.com, www.lifeteen.com/missions, www.focusmissions.org, among others) and some exist to do ‘good work’ and make a profit, to be a successful business, what Pope Francis might call a “pitiful NGO” (http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1301190.htm). 

There are a few mission groups out there that truly stretch every dollar and dime, and who do not charge an arm and a leg, to serve the people they are sent to minister to. Do not throw the baby out with the bath water by grouping these ministries in with those that are NOT good stewards of the work they have been entrusted with.

Second, consider the alternative. The truth is that a large percentage of mission trips are made up of college students spending their Spring Break in missions instead of in Cancun. The cost of these typical spring break blowouts, partying all night on the beach, visiting as many bars as possible, and not quite living up to the standards of holiness that Christ left for us, will almost always be higher than that of a short term mission. If the choice is between $500 spent ‘living it up’ in Miami or $500 to spent living in a third world country, feeding the poor, building homes, and preaching the Gospel.. which would you choose? And not just for yourself, but which would you choose for your children, grandchildren, and the young generation of Americans currently being formed by their friends, professors, and colleagues?

Mexico-Intake-2013-4-2-1024x682Thirdly, what is the purpose of a short term mission trip? If the purpose of a mission trip is to build a house or dig a well… then yes, stay home and send the money.  Economically it is much wiser to send all the money that would be used on transportation and cost of living, than by using it up, leaving only small amount and brining that with you. However, if the purpose of a mission trip is to evangelize, to bring Jesus Christ, His love, and the Good News of the Gospel to the ends of the earth, then we must GO! Why? Well, because Jesus said “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them… teaching them…”. (Mt 28:20-21).

By James Franke

Read Part Two of This Blog Series

Chosen by Jesus to Proclaim the Good News: One Filipino Family’s Call to Missionary Life

By Joseph Summers

Here at Family Missions Company (FMC) we are constantly blessed to see the transforming power of the Gospel! When our missionaries share God’s Word and Truth in sincere love for the poor whom they serve, God shows up and changes lives. This was the case last year, when Sammy and Lindsey Romero from Abbeville, with their two beautiful kids in tote, teamed up with Sarah Carroll from Carencro and a couple other single missionaries from FMC to bring the Gospel message to the poorest of the poor in Malaybalay, Philippines. God worked wonders through their “Yes” and used their witness to welcome 36 people into the Church through the waters of Baptism! The Leaño family is a living testimony to what authentic Catholic living can do, read their amazing story below:

Lay Catholic Missionary, Catholic Missions, Family Missions Company, Missionaries, Families, Gospel, Poverty, Preaching, Evangelization, Foreign Missions, Great Commission, Matthew 28, Jesus, Laity, Christian

Last year, we were invited to an Easter Sunday celebration by a group of FMC missionaries. We didn’t realize that God had planned that day to change our lives forever.

Before that day, we were so far from God. Both of us come from broken families without any Catholic foundation. I grew up exploring other religions, and Ramon never practiced any faith.

That same week we started attending a Bible study with the FMC missionaries. For the first time, we felt the Holy Spirit, and we realized that God’s words in the Bible are powerful and alive. We realized that it wasn’t too late to accept Jesus as our Savior and to invite him to rule over our lives. After that, we couldn’t stop praising Him and loving Him. We reconciled ourselves with Him, got our babies baptized, got confirmed, and got married in the Church all within a couple of months!

For the past year, we have been helping the FMC missionaries in the Philippines. Many of them have gone on to other missions, but we are always here to continue God’s will. We started Floors for the Poor with the Romero family, completed building and livelihood projects with the Eckstine family, and ministered in the jail and in the community with the Alvarez family. We also started a kids and youth ministry in our parish. We offered our family to God’s service however we could. Working in our hometown of Malaybalay has always been a blessing for us, but soon we realized that God was calling us out of our comfort zone to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel” (Mark 16:15). We prayed a lot about it, and we have said YES!

Lay Catholic Missionary, Catholic Missions, Family Missions Company, Missionaries, Families, Gospel, Poverty, Preaching, Evangelization, Foreign Missions, Great Commission, Matthew 28, Jesus, Laity, Christian

We recently participated in FMC’s Summer School of Missionary Evangelism in the Philippines, which reaffirmed our call to give our lives to becoming missionaries. Now we together with our two children are preparing to .

Family Missions Company is a ministry dedicated to spreading the gospel and serving the poor both here in Acadiana and globally. FMC trains and sends out singles and families, who have heard the call of Jesus to leave everything behind and follow him. Could God be calling you to bring His love to those far away?

Come and be inspired for missions at this year’s Proclaim Conference.

Watch the Promo: PROCLAIM 2013: the Catholic Missions Conference

Join us World Missions Sunday weekend, Oct. 18-20th at the Holiday Inn Convention Center, in Lafayette, LA for a weekend of inspiring talks, dynamics liturgies, and the encouragement YOU need to preach the Gospel to all creation! The conference will feature Archbishop Rivas, Ralph Martin, Deacon Ralph Poyo and more!

Register @ www.Proclaim2013.com

Proclaim reaches out to those who have never heard the Gospel message! It starts with your attendance. Every penny of profit from this conference will be used to spread the Gospel in Asia by supporting missionaries like the Leaño Family.

Proclaim seeks to stir up the Church’s missionary zeal, so that all Catholics will be inspired to live, share, and preach the Gospel! To learn more about the conference visit www.Proclaim2013.com or call 337.893.6111.

 

More than a Feeling: One Missionaries’ Honest Reflection in Calcutta

By Rebekah L.

Lay Catholic Missionary, Catholic Missions, Family Missions Company, Missionaries, Families, Gospel, Poverty, Preaching, Evangelization, Foreign Missions, Great Commission, Matthew 28, Jesus, Laity, ChristiI’ll let you in on a little secret. Missionaries aren’t always enthusiastically happy. We get tired and crabby. We lose our tempers. We inwardly groan when there’s one more knock at the door. Sometimes the last thing we feel like doing is leading another retreat or helping another beggar.

I was planning to write a wonderfully insightful, inspiring post about volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta. Like how I experienced the intimate presence of God among the poorest of the poor. But He had a different lesson in store for me.

I’m weak. I’m selfish. I’m a mess. I need Him.

In Calcutta, I came face-to-face with my fickle emotions. We’re all familiar with the ups and downs of daily life. God originally planned for our spirit, mind, body, and will to work together in beautiful harmony. But when sin entered the world, this harmony was broken and our emotions became disordered. I feel this effect of sin every day. When the sun is shining, I’m all set to head to the after-school tutoring class in the slum. But give me a rainy afternoon, and it’s an uphill battle to drag myself out of the house. When I’ve had a good night sleep, spending an hour with Jesus is the highlight of my day. If I’m tired or annoyed, prayer feels like endless minutes ticking uselessly by.

Mother Teresa is one of my heroes. Her profound love for Jesus in the poor has inspired me for years. I’d dreamed of “Calcutta” as this larger-than-life place that instantly transforms people into saints. I was expecting to be filled with exalted angelic feelings as I worked in Nirmal Hriday, a home for the destitute and dying. Like somehow walking in Mother Teresa’s footsteps would imbue every action with deep significance.

Very quickly the rose-tinted glasses began to crack. My feelings were everything but holy and loving. I was tired. I was hot. I was completely overwhelmed by the crowded, noisy, polluted city. At Nirmal Hriday it was a struggle to keep my mind on the task at hand. I felt frustrated and inept. Yes, it was Christ who we served in these women, but I still gave an inward shudder at changing adult diapers, cleaning wounds, and wiping drool. I felt like I was doing “small things,” but without “great love.”

Lay Catholic Missionary, Catholic Missions, Family Missions Company, Missionaries, Families, Gospel, Poverty, Preaching, Evangelization, Foreign Missions, Great Commission, Matthew 28, Jesus, Laity, ChristiAs I prayed about what a mess I was, I read one of Mother Teresa’s quotes: “That we feel repugnance is but natural, but when we overcome it for love of Jesus we may become heroic.” Disliking diapers and drool was natural! It wasn’t a sign of failure. The key is what we do with the feelings of repugnance and discouragement. Do we call it quits or persevere? Are we consumed by our own weakness, or by God’s strength? The “small things” Mother Teresa talked about are usually monotonous, dirty, and unrewarding. But they’re the secret of holiness. Doing them anyways. Doing them when you don’t feel like it. Doing them with Jesus and for Jesus.

Lay Catholic Missionary, Catholic Missions, Family Missions Company, Missionaries, Families, Gospel, Poverty, Preaching, Evangelization, Foreign Missions, Great Commission, Matthew 28, Jesus, Laity, Christi What is great love? The world says that it’s a rush of warm, tender feelings. Christianity says that it’s the Cross. “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. God showed us that love is an action, a decision. It’s practiced in service and self-sacrifice. The saints unanimously agree that love and suffering go hand-in-hand. Sometimes God gives us feelings of consolation, sometimes He withholds them. It’s our actions, not our feelings, which are true indicators of love. This doesn’t mean that the Christian life is dark and dreary, though. Just the opposite; it’s full of light and joy! But the deep joy of knowing Christ is completely different from the passing emotional highs of the world.

Lay Catholic Missionary, Catholic Missions, Family Missions Company, Missionaries, Families, Gospel, Poverty, Preaching, Evangelization, Foreign Missions, Great Commission, Matthew 28, Jesus, Laity, Christi

There’s great grace in choosing to love when tender feelings are absent.  The inconstancy of my emotions forces me to my knees. It reminds me that I’m weak and in desperate need of God’s strength.  My love will wax and wane, but His remains ever steadfast.

I went to Calcutta hoping to learn Mother Teresa’s secret. In an unexpected way, I did. Without Jesus, I’m nothing. As our weeks of service went on, I continued to offer Him all the little things, and ask Him to provide the love, patience, and perseverance that I lacked. I repeatedly prayed, “Jesus, I’m doing this because I love you. I need your help, your grace. I can’t do it on my own.” And He answered my prayers. Minute by minute, He gave me the strength and focus to actively choose to love.

By Rebekah L.

Man Enough? An Invitation to Mission

“Jesus is not an isolated missionary, he does not want to fulfill his mission alone, but involves his disciples.” – Pope Francis

#Man Enough? from Family Missions Company

At Family Missions Company we confidently know that God is calling many people today to proclaim the Good News. All Catholic families and laity are called to the apostolate of evangelization and sanctification of our world today. There is exciting growth in the numbers of Catholic lay missionaries especially families with children giving their lives to foreign mission throughout the world.

Do you feel called to be a full time missionary? We hope and pray that if you do, you will respond generously to that call with your whole heart and whole life. Indeed, it is a great challenge, and those of us who have given our lives as missionaries know that there is no better life than one given completely in the service of the Gospel.

Over the past two weeks, over a dozen of our male missionaries have written blogs about their own call to missions and how giving their YES to missionary work has made them better, holier men of God.

Man Enough

We want to invite you to watch and share the above video and visit FMC’s Man Enough? page to be enriched and convicted by the testimonies of those men whose lives have been transformed by their YES to the Great Commission.

Read them here at Man Enough?

Please contact our office if you would like additional information; we would love the opportunity to talk and pray with you.

Jesus is begging His Father to send laborers into the vineyard – the task is urgent, come with us into the fields!

What the New Evangelization is NOT!

By Joseph Summers

“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and so are the skins; but new wine is for fresh skins.” Mk 2:22

It is an exciting time to be a Catholic! Even more so a Catholic missionary evangelist! All the buzz surrounding this Year of Faith and the New Evangelization is truly encouraging. This is certainly a crucial moment in the life of the Church,  we Catholics are being challenged to evaluate our lives examining them through the lens of the Gospel.

Evangelion is Greek for Gospel, and so the New Evangelization could rightfully be called the New Gospelization. It is time for us to get Gospelized and to Gospelize the world!

As simple as that sounds, the reality is that getting from where we are as a people of God to where we need to be is going to involve some epic maneuvering; heck, it might even involve some about faces in certain areas of our lives as individuals and as a Church. (By the way the Biblical term for that is Repentance!)

You see, you can’t just slap a “New Evangelization” bumper sticker on the same old methods, practices and models of Catholic living and pretend like that is enough to get the job done.

If the old/current approach were enough, we wouldn’t need a New Evangelization,  and there wouldn’t be Catholics sitting on cushioned pews, stacking up bundles in the bank,  while the souls of billions, the great majority of humanity in fact,  are in jeopardy, wandering in darkness without ever having heard the Gospel.

If our present system were hunky dory, then we wouldn’t be renovating church after church here in the United States while other Catholics around the world literally starve, or have no access to the teaching ministry of the Church.  Jesus says new wine deserves new wineskins, which means the NEW Evangelization needs new methods and fresh commitment.

 Back to the Basics

It is time for NEW! Actually, we need to be re-NEWed. The New Evangelization is not a new message. We don’t need a new Gospel, we need to live the Gospel! It is time to get back to the basics, to the faith and proclamation of the first Christians when the Gospel truly was new! The Good News was so hot off the press that it burned like fire in the hearts of the early disciples. As the Church founded on the Apostles, it might benefit us to pay attention to what the Apostles preached.

If you open the book of Acts you will not find Peter and Paul talking about First Saturday devotions, the Novena to St. Joseph, or even the do’s and don’ts of liturgy. (This is not an assault on pious practices or Catholic doctrine which I value, it’s just an observation of Apostolic preaching). Their message, or kerygma, sounded something like this: “God loves us, even though we have sinned and offended God, even though we deserve punishment for our rebellion against Him, the Father sent His Son to die and bring us new life. You can be reborn, you can be saved through Jesus!”

Ignited by the Fire of Pentecost 

The early Church was fixated on JESUS. They couldn’t stop talking about Him, they couldn’t stop thinking about Him, they couldn’t stop trying to live their lives by His Words. In fact, no one could stop them! St. Paul expresses the unconquerable attitude of the first Christians in Philippians 1:21: “For to me to live is Christ and death is gain.”

Death wasn’t enough to stay the bold evangelization of the Apostles and company! Far too often this Apostolic fervor is starkly contrasted when compared to my faith and the faith of most of my fellow parishioners! But before we give too much credit to the Apostles, let’s not forget where they were when Jesus was being executed.

Even the Resurrection was not enough to get them out of the upper room and onto the corner of Jericho and Main in downtown Jerusalem; it was not until Pentecost that we see the profound metanoia of the Apostles. Ignited with the very fire of love, the Holy Spirit fueled the engine of evangelization that was to transform the known world.

It can happen again, but we first need to beg God to send a New Pentecost for this New Evangelization, that we too might be transformed by the awesome power, gifts, and charisms of the Holy Spirit. In fact, to take a cue from Jesus’ advice to the Apostles before ascending into heaven, we shouldn’t be doing much of anything before being filled with God’s anointing Spirit.

The New Wine of the Spirit

We (individuals, families, parishes, & dioceses) need this new life, this new wine. We need a new paradigm because the new wine of the Spirit will burst complacent Catholicism. To see the New Evangelization bear the fruit the Father undoubtedly wants to see in the world, we must drink deeply of the new wine of the Spirit.

In order to Gospelize the world, we must be steeped in praying and reading the Gospels. Intoxicated by the Spirit, and a love for the Gospel, incarnate in Christ Jesus, we must put off the old wineskins of a faith that is content to be a part of our lives, instead of our very lifeline.

We must shatter ideologies that leave the Sermon on the Mount, on the mount two millennia ago. We must renounce a model of church that allows us to invest all our resources in maintaining buildings and the status quo, while the primary service of evangelization which the Church offers humanity goes unattended and unfunded.

We can’t pretend that God doesn’t care if I keep adding cute new outfits to my wardrobe while Jesus hungers, thirsts, and waits in the least of our brothers. The New Evangelization doesn’t mean getting Catholics to feel good about hanging crucifixes on their walls, it means tearing down walls, taking up our crosses and following Jesus, even to death.

By Joseph Summers