It’s a ‘Christian responsibility’ to share the faith

Published: April 7, 2007

By Phyllis Rathman

One of the most beautiful things about Lent and Easter is the welcoming of people into the Catholic Church. At the Rite of Election, the catechumen and candidates are reminded that they have heard the call of God and have responded to it, but how exactly does God call them? As a convert, and through my work with the RCIA program, I can tell you that God calls most of them through their relationships with Catholics and through Catholic ministries. While we Catholics celebrate their desire to join our faith, we often fail to realize our own participation in their conversion. Evangelization, or the “E-word” as I call it, is something many Catholics are uncomfortable with and we probably associate it with the act of conversion. However, evangelization is just sharing your faith. Even if we never speak a word about faith, our day-to-day lives serve as a witness, or evangelization, to those around us. I believe that faith sharing is a Christian responsibility. We would probably all agree that as Christians we are “disciples of Christ” yet where would we be if the first apostles and disciples had not shared their faith? We are here as a Church today because those before us shared their faith with others and within the Christian and Catholic communities. What are we afraid of? Bodily harm? Catholics are small in number in the state of Arkansas, but surely none of us risks death like many who came before us and those currently spreading Christ’s message in other parts of the world. What if we don’t have all the answers? There is a wonderful treasury of books and writings that give us the answers to most of our questions and they are readily available. What if we are confronted about our beliefs and practices? There are many misconceptions about the Catholic faith, but they aren’t going to change if we are not willing to explain them. Sharing our faith with others helps each of us as well as the Catholic Church. We trace ourselves back to the early Christian communities, who despite the discrimination and persecutions they experienced, continued to attract converts by their community spirit — their support and care for each other. We need to revive that spirit. We strengthen our own faith when we share it with others. It is also a means of fellowship with one another. Sharing how we have experienced our faith gives us new ideas to help us continue to grow in our faith but it also creates bonds between us and leads to true caring for each other. How many people in today’s world crave the support and care that the Christian community can provide? We should remember that God uses us in each other’s lives and we have a responsibility to share our faith in Christ and the Catholic Church whether the person is a non-Catholic or the person sitting next to us at Mass. I hope this Easter season as we welcome these men and women into the Catholic faith that we are reminded to keep an eye out for the opportunities God provides. Phyllis Rathman is an advocate for the diocese’s Marriage Tribunal Office, a catechist and Why Catholic? facilitator at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock.