Notre Dame de Chartres Cathedral, France

Recently I’ve come across some faithful Catholics concerned about their children and grandchildren dissociating themselves from the Catholic Church and being swept up in the secular culture. These Catholics are bewildered as to how to communicate the Catholic faith to their young family members. Often the secularised youth are quite aggressive in their opposition to the Catholic faith, particularly in light of the Church’s stance on marriage and family. This often leads faithful Catholics to remain silent, preferring simply to pray for their loved ones. But this is a big mistake! Prayer is certainly key, but without the proclamation of the Gospel, how will they hear the message of salvation? Others, have decided that their witness of life is sufficient without speaking about the Person of Jesus Christ. Again, big mistake! In a world of so many competing ideologies and misconceptions about Christianity, faithful Catholics must speak of the Gospel. Of course, this does not mean ramming the Gospel truth down people’s throats. Rather, we are to give clear reasons for the hope that is within us, and we do it in love.

Where do we start? We must learn about the rich theology and philosophical foundations for our Catholic faith. We can no longer rely on a “Christian culture” to carry us along. In the past, it was possible to speak about the truth of the Gospel and people would respond with faith. We could also speak about the goodness of the Christian way of life as seen in the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, and a life of Christian virtue. This too could bring about conversion. Today, however, many are closed to the avenues of the truth and goodness of the Christian message. They see truth as relative and the proposition of the goodness of the Christian life as an unwanted imposition.

Often the best evangelising approach is to lead with beauty. Our Catholic faith proposes a beautiful way of life, centred on the beauty of Christ, and expressed in beautiful art, literature, architecture, prayer, and music. I know of a lady who was converted to the Catholic faith simply by sitting for hours within Chartres Cathedral, France. The beauty of that magnificent Gothic building expressed to her the living faith of Catholics throughout the ages, and the beauty of the One God to whom all glory is given.

Beauty is the confluence of truth and goodness—hence it is captivating. Once captivated, a person asks how to live in accordance with this Beauty. After learning about the good Christian life as lived by people like St Theresa of Calcutta or Sr Mary Glowrey (an Australian doctor and Catholic religious sister), the person begins to question why they lived this way. So we gradually present the Gospel by leading with its beauty, before speaking of its goodness, then its truth. It is a gradual revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ and the fullness of his Gospel message.

 

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