So Joe Grabowski has been stirred up by the Exilerating Exhortation.
The thing is, I've been sitting with Pope Francis's new exhortation Evangelii Gaudium since it first hit the internet, and the whole time I've only been able to feel like this is a really important moment for the Church.
I agree with Joe. The problem is it's very easy to let these moments pass. Well, Joe doesn't want to let it pass - and he doesn't want any of us to let it pass.
So, here it is: I'm issuing a challenge, for myself and for anyone who wants to undertake it along with me, to take Pope Francis's words to heart in a really practical way.
Yeah? Meaning what???
So here's the play:We all know somebody who doesn't attend Mass despite the obligation to do so. ...We tend not to make these things our business. But I think Pope Francis is challenging us to be missionaries in precisely this way (and so many more). And this is the easiest thing I can think of that puts the spirit he's advocating to the test: let's make it our business. Pray about, discern how, and then approach one person who needs to be 'evangelized' this way and do the work: make the suggestion, have the conversation.
In other words (as Joe explains on Facebook)
Basically to pick someone we know who hasn't gone to Church (or doesn't always when they should) and try to evangelize them upon the point.
And then (importantly) to note, journal, and discourse about it as we work together as fellow "foot soldiers" to get our "field manuals" in order since Francis has effectively given us marching orders.
Joe is quick to caution that we not be proselytizing per se - in other words, pushing ourselves in someone's face. Evangelization is the fruit of relationship, and all relationships have to be loving and trusting in order to be valid. So don't look at your "target" as a "prospect" or a "lead" or a potential notch in your belt, or as anything other than a person you need to love - and a person who is probably not the awful sinner you are, despite his or her apparent wandering from the Church.
Reach out, but do so in love.
And compare notes - here or on Joe's blog.
Of course, Joe's idea is just a suggestion, and one that starts small.
Some of us know more atheists or agnostics than others do - and it may make sense to reach out in some way, not for the sake of argumentation (which will probably get you nowhere), but for the sake of joy and love.
That's the spirit of the New Evangelization. And that's the Joy of the Gospel.