A Few Thoughts On Evangelisation

 As it is the Year of Faith, the internet is awash with "stuff" on evangelisation. In some ways it helps to discard the idea of it as a "programme" as that often has a wearying flattening effect on most people. :-)

The intentions of the year of faith are aimed at a multiplicity of levels; By virtue of our Baptism we all carry a hope that we will be able to deepen individual faith and committment and then have the courage to share it, without forcing it down other people's throats.

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Then there are larger concerns: evangelisation that leads to addressing practical action in varying and fragmented contexts; social discourse and engagement at interpersonal, community and country level and  trying to influence the social structures that affect us in situations, in the service of Christ are all part of what we do as Christians.

Whether in simple everyday acts or more grandiose and complex schemes and situations,  I pray that all our efforts and searches will be hopefully graced with receptivity to the transforming action of a God that personally meets us wherever and whenever we are

I hold the firm belief that the Holy Spirit is always at work in our own lives and the lives of all we meet, whether invited or uninvited, (as Jung pointed out in Latin in this plaque placed outside his home.)

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 Road to Emmaus

For this particular post I have picked up on the theme of evangelisation with a few exploratory examples that I hope you find interesting.

This is one example of a young woman's remarkable account of how her attitude towards evangelisation dramatically changes as a result of walking the pilgrimage route of Le Camino in Spain to Santiago de Compostela.

This interesting article from the National Catholic Reporter offers a model of New Evangelisation in the Ukraine. It begins :

"When times are difficult, you're stripped down and forced to look at the essentials," he said. "You fall back on the basic Christian experiences of being together, supporting one another, praying together and being community ... overcoming the negation of the Gospel without any pretense or imposition."

Gudziak believes that style is a "tangible presence" in Greek Catholicism, and not only because of the martyrs and the gulags.
"Our relationship of clergy to laity is also conditioned by the fact that our priests are married to lay women, and they have lay children at home," he said.

This combination of factors, Gudziak suggested, allows the university to be a place where a church that prizes humility, closeness to the people, and taking the lay role seriously becomes self-reflective.

As for the trust deficit, the response has been even more innovative. To help people learn to take off their masks, the university turned to the insights of Henri Nouwen, Jean Vanier, and the L'Arche movement, inviting mentally handicapped people to become part of their community. (Gudziak studied under Nouwen at Harvard.)"

For many parishes this time of year co-incides with the theme of Mission and visiting priests, religious and lay people often come to speak at Mass.

The links below are from two people who I am privileged to call friends, and their personal accounts of missionary work vividly bring home the meaning of evangelisation in two very different countries.

Shane Ambrose ( image left), who also is part of the team at Sacred Space 102 fm, is almost ready to embark work overseas in Sudan with an NGO, but Shane has also lived and worked in Uganda. He has recently started a personal blog titled " Letters From A Desert.", which reminds me of a book by Carlo Caretto.

 His excellent post begins :

"From September 2007 to May 2010 I lived and worked in Uganda. During my time there I sent home various emails, letters and reflections. The one set out below is the last Letter from Mityana which summed up my reflections at that time. Our lives are a patchwork quilt of our experiences and form part of who we are. My love of Africa and my interest in theology and development issues was one of the ongoing gifts that Kiyinda gave to me." You can read the rest of Shane's post here.

I have written before on Fr John Predmore S.J,  in this post earlier in July this year and in my previous post here.

John has a blog, Ignatian Spirituality, Set The World Ablaze and  has now set up a new blog for his experiences in Amman, Jordan, fittingly entitled To The Frontiers.

John writes :

 "The suffering here is intense. Social services are lacking for the poor. Health insurance pays for only certain procedures and typically not long-term medicine. People here say if you are poor, then you die. The meager services that I know are one-shot interventions and people need help just to have subsistence living. It is very sad and one never knows which decisions to make because each of them are urgent... and this ....
 "I am always trying to establish boundaries here. People are rather immediate about their concerns. If they want something, they show up at the doorstep and demand satisfaction. There is absolutely no sense of planning. Incredible. They see nothing wrong with their ways and they are very hurt if you say, "come back tomorrow."

Reading about Shane and John's encounters brings back a lot of vivid memories for me when I lived and worked in Malawi, Africa from 1991-1992.  

Sadly, laptops, blogs,digital cameras and internet connectivity were not available to me then and so I only managed with snail mail and print photos to record my experiences. I did however spend a lot of time writing a longer thesis/ journal work as part of my counselling course called Listening With The Fourth War in Malawi, : A Study of Archetypes in a Developing Country.

 I have been re-reading it with some nostalgia. Some things have changed but the sadly the same patterns of poverty, disease, inequality and corruption still prevail. 

My heart and prayers are with Shane, John and countless others who have been called to work abroad. It is a very challenging life in physical, mental, spiritual terms and I am very grateful for the gifts of healing and the inspiration and blessings they carry with them.

They move thousands of miles away from their families, they sometimes live in countries where violence is not uncommon, and yet they move willingly. Every day missionaries take on these challenges to promote the faith.
World Mission Day was celebrated on Sunday, October 21st. With this powerful video, the Pontifical Mission Societies thanks missionaries throughout the world for their work. It also invites Christians to support them with their prayers and financial support. 


Dionne Warwick. That's What Friends Are For

It's Dionne Warwick's 50th anniversary and even if her voice is a little ravaged by the years, she still works magic - seems a good one to finish this post.


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