By Ron Lee, JMJ
August 15, 2002
Purpose of Evangelization
The purpose of this program is to insure everyone knows the importance of the work of the Father in the harvest field, not only for other souls, but also for their own salvation.
Ezek. 3:18 – “When I say to a wicked man, you shall surely die and you do not warm him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.”
St. Paul must have had this in mind when he said: “Your blood be on your own hands! I am clear of my responsibility”.
Soul winning or evangelization is a permanent call from the Lord if you are a believer. All the Popes of recent days have stated very purposefully that you must evangelize if you are a Christian. Yet, the Catholic Churches are not full and evangelical and Pentecostal Christians are evangelizing many, many millions. The Cults and Occult groups are gobbling up millions and opening up Satanic Churches in abandoned Christian Churches.
We can still hear Jesus’ words to the early Apostles. “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” The command was to follow Him. Do what He does. Be His disciple. It is the work of Jesus to make you a fisher of men. We do not save anyone. It is the work of the Holy Spirit, but we are all called to be in the harvest field when He returns. We are to be watchful, standing and praying to the Lord of the harvest to send others into the field. A Watcher is one who guards and warns. All are to be alert and ready for the return of Our Lord and Savior.
He also said: “Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” (Luke 14:23). The word compel comes from Latin. It means to drive forcefully, cause by overwhelming pressure (exhaustion).
When Jesus called Andrew, the first thing he did, was to go to the house of his brother and bring him to Jesus. This procedure went on and on. We also have a PROMISE in the Scriptures. If one member of the household were saved this household would be saved. Why would this be true even in the natural? Our example and love would eventually win them over.
Just as God’s chastisement and teaching begins with the household of God, Soul-winning also starts at home.
No, No. I will turn them off. How many are afraid that because we know the person, they will not accept the Good News. The truth is that we should be concerned for their soul more than others if we truly love them. If we have told them about Jesus and the salvation He came to announce and allow them to be in heaven for eternity, we should then show good example, pray for mercy, ask God to remove the veil from their eyes that blinds them and keeps them from seeing.
Let us look at some of the excuses that will send some of people to hell.
I am a great sinner and people would not believe me. The truth is that when they see you repent and change, they will really know there is a God. 1 Tim. 1:15: “You can depend on this as worthy of full acceptance: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I myself am the worst. But on that very account I was dealt with mercifully, so that in me, as an extreme case, Jesus Christ might display all his patience, and that I might become an example to those who would later have faith in him and gain everlasting life.”
Romans 5: 6-8 “At the appointed time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for us godless men. It is rare that anyone should lay down his life for a just man, though it is barely possible that for a good man someone may have the courage to die. It is precisely in this that God proves his love for us.”
God, the Holy Spirit, is at work in the world with a pre-illumination concerning Jesus, the Son of God. The devil is at work, attempting to prevent people from hearing the message spiritually and allowing it to take root for fruit of salvation.
It can be readily seen that people are not willing to give up their will and follow God. They are trapped by the satanic trinity of me, myself and I. Selflessness is the way of God.
They look at all they have or desire to have and are not willing to give up or give up anything they are holding on to that is in their heart. It is just too much. If we do not choose God’s mercy, we are choosing God’s justice. The worse effect of our choice is the absence of God for all eternity.
Is. 57:20-22 tells us that those who do not choose God will have no rest. Rev. 3:17 indicates they will have no happiness.. Peace will be missing form their life. (John 14:27). Fear is another great inhibiter. They are afraid they will lose friends, job, and future promotions, income. Others are afraid of the ridicule. Others decide not to change and not believe. They make this decision after some consideration.
The example of life of many Christians is also a big turn off for many. I will not join something where most are hypocrites. Yet, God tell us not to judge. (R. 2:1-3. People are only accountable for themselves.
The one I also observe is that they want to change or become better and then go to Church. God is calling them to be changed by Him. Church is not the call, it is a call to a personal, dynamic relationship with the living God, Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord.
He wants to bring us into the household of God and give us a new life and make us a new creature in the manner that God the Father had wanted for us before creation began.
(Luke 5:31-32; Luke 18: 10-12. You see it in the pride of the Pharisee and the tax collector. God this is what I do for you. Look at this one. Jesus said the woman who gave all was justified.
You can also hear this one: I cannot understand the bible. It does not make sense to me.
The truth is that the bible is spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2:14). The Holy Spirit reveals to the heart of man, its rhema word and truth.
It is a closed book until converted. (Rom. 3:11.) When we are under the domination of sin, we cannot understand. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes and hears to understand.
To people living in the values of the world and satan, the Bible is foolish. (1 Cor. 1:18)
Many will also consider the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church ridiculous and strange to even think this. (Hosea 8:12) Some current examples are the Church’s stand on abortion, stem cell research, etc.
Some say: “I do not feel like it.” We are not saved by our feelings, but our decision to believe on the name of Jesus as our Savior. (John 5:214, 1 Cor. 6:11). We are justified by faith(R. 5:1; Grace – R. 3:24; Blood of Jesus R. 5:9)
Ignorance of Scripture, indifference and unbelief in God’s Word are the chief problems in the world. God cries out in Scripture: “My people are being destroyed by ignorance”.
We have to remember that is not what we are, but what God can make us. “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.
It is important if you are under conviction that you repent of what you were in the past and resolve within your heart to be obedient to God in the future. We are not made all that we shall be nor what we desire to be.
The truth is simple. Are you converted and “saved”? If so, one half is done and the other half needs to be converting others - bringing others to Jesus so they can see and hear. The Father is sending us out to the by-ways so His table will be full.
7. Live in the present moment, stay out of the Past and let God take care of the future. Do what you can do now.
We do not save people by offering them redemption at present, but by warning them to flee from the wrath to come. God is love, but the love is a burning fire that burns away all flesh. If we are covered by His blood by believing in Him, we will be protected. We cannot give what we do not have. Our “saved” relationship in the present allows us to grow in holiness and the Divine Life.
He is calling us and we are to respond: “Here I am Lord, I have come to do your Will.”
It is not just saying, “Here I am”. Many times we must also wait on the Lord. The troubles of today are sufficient. The people He has placed in our lives to whom we can testify and bring the Good News are all around us. The harvest field is ripe right where we are.
There is a difference between the person who “goes” on his own power and bears no or little fruit and those who are sent. We are all sent by God to work in the harvest field, but not all are sent to do the work in someone else’s field.
We model and teach what He has taught us. This is the imitation of Jesus and Mary, the holiness of God.
One of the signs that we are hiding from this responsibility is our prayer life and whom the Holy Spirit is able to bring to us. We are to pray constantly and give thanks to the Lord for all things. The Cross is the key to be effective and it is only Jesus on the Cross that draws all men. Can they see me accepting my daily cross in life? If so, they will want to be like Jesus and come to me so I can introduce them to Him. It is not just carrying it, but embracing it for we know that each cross has a mission in our soul and it will effect others if we have the joy of carrying it for the Father’s glory.
Have you ever had the experience of leading someone to Jesus and they converted? If not, ask yourself if you are fishing or looking at the fish in the fish bowl?
One of areas of the Scripture that concerns me for so many of my brother and sisters is from John 15:5-6. “ I am the vine, you are the branches. He, who lives in me and I in him, will produce abundantly, for apart from me you can do nothing. A man who does not live in me is like a withered, rejected branch picked up to be thrown in the fire and burnt. If you live in me and my words stay part of you, you may ask what you will – it will be done for you. My Father has been glorified in your bearing much fruit and becoming my disciples.” A sign that your work is bearing real fruit is the fecundity of God. This means an act of God that we do, bears and multiplies and has no limit.
Does scripture give us the answer? Yes! 2 Peter 1:5-7: “ For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness and to goodness, knowledge and to knowledge, self-control and self-control to perseverance. Perseverance to godliness and godliness to brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness to love.
These qualities are a secure way. There is a conditional promise that keeping them you are effective and productive and the knowledge of Jesus will be so powerful that others will come to know Him as you do. V. 11 …”If you do these things, you will never fall and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
James 5:20 “Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins”.
What are some of the (Fish) or errors to look for? First and foremost, a love of sin or the world. Remember that they are blind and cannot see. One has to pray that the veil be removed. Many times, Chastisement and trial remove the veil temporarily. This is a time to act.
There is no peace (Is. 57:21)
Good understanding wins favor, but the way of the unfaithful is hard. (Proverbs 13:15)
When He saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. They roam from one thing to another and never really focus on anything. (Matthew 9:36)
They are powerless. Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)
Many are the woes of the wicked, but he Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trust in him. (Ps. 32:10)
In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays far from them. Ps 22:5
And that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:26)
The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. (Proverbs 5:22)
There are also two types of Christians in the harvest field: One is being Chastised by God to help them get to work and the other type is those who hear silently in their heart and prepare daily for the work that is at hand. The first needs God to make them move by the circumstances of their lives. The other listens to God and acts.
You learn only by following Jesus. He will teach you. Sometimes He teaches us by the situations of our life, sometimes by what we hear, sometimes by the Church. He always teaches us by His Word and exhortations of the Holy Father. We can learn by examining the life of a fisherman.
A fisher is dependent, trustful and patient. He cannot see the fish, but casts his net or line anyway. He knows that water contains fish. Sometimes he casts and casts and other times he receives a bounty. When the Apostles did what Jesus said they caught so much they were convicted and almost sunk their boats. Another time, he caught fish and cooked it for them, as they caught nothing again. Again, we learn that we must not just do natural works, but they must be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
It really does not matter if you are planting, watering or harvesting normally. Since we are living at the end of the age, the harvester is reaping what he did not sow. Matter of fact, we are ready to do the greatest harvest in the history of the Great Trial.
IF YOU ASK THE HOLY SPIRIT AND OUR LADY, YOU WILL KNOW WHAT TO DO, WHEN TO DO IT AND TO WHOM.
A fisherman who must earn his living by this trade is diligent and persevering. He gets up early, like Jesus to pray, and fishes until late. As long as one can work one does.
Fish do not want to be caught. People are like the fish. They want to avoid salvation because they are living in their human will under the influence of the world and their flesh. Even though they might have the desire, no one has pressed it home to them.
Now is the time for salvation.
If may be that you did not know you were a fisherman. Now you do. Fish!
Sometimes, they will reject the attempt, but this is o.k. You are free from your responsibility for that soul. You can wash your hands as Paul did.
The only thing that I can promise is that you will probably be persecuted and the devil will see you at work and try to ruin it. (Luke 6:22, 23, Jn16:2; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Jn 3:13).
We see in Hebrews ll: 35-39 that Paul was persecuted, destitute, etc.
“If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels: (Mark 8:38). We know that Jesus is NOT ASHAMED OF HIS FAMILY (Heb 2:11)
What does the world say the word “shame” means: it means embarrassed, uncomfortable, hesitant or reluctant”.
Luke 6: 22-23: “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy because great is your reward in heaven for that is how their fathers treated the prophets”
We know from Saint Faustina that we can win many souls at the 3:00 hour if we pray the chaplet of Mercy. We also know that having the intention of saving souls in the Hours of the passion is powerful and Jesus promises souls to be won for heaven. Praying the Hours of the Passion is the key to being a harvester.
A few last minute tips
Pray before you go. Start out the day, consecrating yourself to the Immaculate and Sacred Hearts. Ask the Holy Spirit to use you.
You cannot catch fish unless you go fishing. Always take your tools to do it:
Prayer, obedience, simplicity and love. God will bring you the fish, we must lower the net or cast out.
Among strangers, Jesus sent his people, two by two. Get a prayer partner. If you are married, learn to fish together. If you are single, if you are going out to fish take someone with you that knows how to fish or at least use the net.
Remember; fish do not want to be caught. Be smart, wise and holy. It works.
How about a revival in your area or Church?
Hosea 10:12: “Break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you.”
Revival is a serious work of the Lord. It takes place because someone is praying, fasting and sacrificing. There is no short cut unless there is a calamity in the area and people are forced into prayer and “Church”.
There are two aspects of Revival.
What is fallow ground? It is ground that has been tilled before, but which now lies waste; it needs to be broken; up and mellowed, before it is suited to receive grain. This is the state of many congregations. People know all about Jesus butdo not know Him. Jesus is an intellectual consent and they assent to it for many reasons such as: I have always been Catholic; I need to be an example to the kids, etc.
How do you break up the fallow of the heart?
1. Where your heart is, is where your treasure lies. Your thoughts reflect your values, goals and prayer life. Your thoughts also form your moods and prompt you to take care of “self” and not see others.
2. Who are you serving? God, self or the world? God must receive the Glory. If you are the center of the attention and focus of “thank you” – you need to check out the “ground” of your heart for you have lots of weeds. The sad thing is that the angels let the angels and good grow together until the harvest of the soul.
3. The Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit’s work to show you the attitudes, acts and what “cleverness” you are using to hide from God or not evangelize.
4. What sins are you confessing over and over? List them. One by one. Take the time! Sins are committed one by one and they lead to the same sins and like sins. Confession is very necessary for you to lead a Glory filled spiritual life in the service of Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church has the authority to set you free, but the effect remains and repentance, restitution, self-forgiveness, change of life and friends may be required for you to break the chains of evil. The truth is these areas are normally deliberate or sins of passion or weakness. It is important to look at the sins of omission. These sins contribute greatly to our lack of acts of love, adoration and worship of God. In addition, it is these sins that keep us in bondage. These sins must come to “light” so the truth of God’s word can shine on them. This revelation can now be taken to Confession or discussed with someone who has the virtue to overcome them. What is amazing is that the “roots” of sin are very deep and you will be surprised how the addictive sin has woven its roots through every aspect of your life in a hidden way.
Sins of Omission Check List
The second step is planting good seed (the Word of God), teachings of the Church and love of our brethren and non-believers. Drive the plow right through. Go to confession; be honest and forthright about your sins and roots of sin. Father I have neglected____________. Father I have confessed this sin all my life_______. Ask God to help you by destroying the old man on the cross. Surrender and abandon your will to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. Trust God and His mercy and love. It endures forever.
Sins of commission come before us readily. “My sins are always before me” (Psalm 51), but sins of commission cause a lack of fervor and indifference to the work of the Lord. These sins harden the heart and lead to neglect of duties in your state of life and vocation. They keep you from seeing the needs of people and keep you from listening to God. If we have received the Good News, we are called to evangelize. God wants us to “shout” it from the rooftop if necessary.
Start with a “whisper” first in confession, second in prayer, third in our examples of love to the world.
Prayer and Evangelization
The key to accomplish spiritual work in the natural world is to begin all in prayer for the Glory of the Father. Jesus has paid the price and the Holy Spirit accomplishes the work. God does not normally act unless we pray. Trust in your status as a Child of the Most High. Your prayer has the “ear” of God. Nothing is impossible for God. Do your part!
“And whatsoever you shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father maybe glorified in the Son. If you shall ask anything in My name, I will do it glorified in the Son. If you shall ask anything in My name, I will do it” John 14:13-14. We live in a “Gimme” society. We are plagued with the “rights” movements and the constant noise of “look at me”. “Be like me”. “Gratify me”. What is needed are a people who will only be concerned with “God’s rights”. It is right that we give thanks and praise unto the Lord.
Even this right is not possible without the Holy Spirit. Scripture informs us that it is the Holy Spirit who searches our heart and our mind. It is the Holy Spirit who determines if we are asking God with our whole heart and mind for the Glory of the Father. It is the Holy Spirit who creates the faith condition in the soul to bring about miracles. It is the sweet Guest of our soul who brings the Eternal One and transforms us into living tabernacles and living hosts. How can we know the mind of God or His will in a situation? “Do what He tells you”. This statement by Our Lady, Mary Most Holy, removes the veil of ignorance and calls us to obedience to the Will of God.
The Holy Spirit brings to our hearts and minds what God wants us to pray about. God wants our cooperation so we can share in the Victory of the Lamb. The burdens God gives to us are burdens first of prayer. If the Holy Spirit is leading you to pray for someone, you should realize that God desires to do a great work, a miracle for the salvation of the soul or those this soul touches. When we pray, it should be in submission to the Will of God. Our prayer in the Will of God will produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit also in the person praying. The only means to learn to pray is to pray. Meditate on the Passion of Jesus. He cries out - ”I thirst”. This thirst is for souls. This is our call to be in the harvest field, planting, watering or harvesting. You must be doing one of these.
The links listed will give you information that is very valuable in saving souls
www.Christlife.org (articles and documents)
www.cin.org (catholic information network)
www.cwnews.com (Catholic news $24.00 year subscription)
www.catholiccity.com (Little of everything)
www.vatican.va (Vatican files)
www.udallas.edu (download talks)
Scripture and Evangelization
Scripture is the Word of God. You will encounter many Christian sects that state profession in Jesus alone puts one in right relationship with God. Then you are assured of eternal salvation.
This is not found in scripture! Eph. 2:8-9 and Romans 3:28 teaches that Christians are not required to perform the works to be saved (e.g. circumcision, rituals of purification, etc.)
Scripture does indicate that once you are a Christian you are to perform works. This shows that you are a Christian and committed to Jesus the Lord.
Gospels: Matt 7:21; Matt 19:16-21. You have many other references: James 2:14-265; James 5:20; 1 Cor 15:58; Heb 6:10; Phil 2:12-13; 1 John 3:7; 1 John 3:21.
Also Gal 5:6; Rom 2:5-7 2 Cor5:10; Rev 14:13; Rev 19:8. Rev 20:12-13.
James states, “See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24. Martin Luther added the word “alone” to Rom. 3:28 in his German translation of the Bible.
The other area you will encounter is “Sola Scripture” The Bible ALONE IS INTENDED TO SERVE AS THE SOLE AUTHORITY OF BELIEF AND PRACTICE.
Jesus condemns corrupt traditions of men that nullify the ‘Word of God. Greek is paradosis). See Mark 7:1-9. He did not do away with tradition.
St Paul is very clear: Follow the Traditions (Greek paradosis) of the Apostles. See 1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 2:15.
Many other scriptures can be used. 2 Tim 2:2 2 Peter 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20; Acts 8:30-31; Matt 18:15 and Luke 24:27.
Old Testament reference can be used also. Deut 1;7:8-10; Neh 8:8-9.
It does not say anywhere in Scripture that God has revealed everything in the written scriptures exclusively.
Have you been saved? Yes
Greek saved (sozo) is in the present tense (1 Peter 3:21; Mark 16:16; 1 Cor 15:2). It is also a future event. We are found faithful at the end of our life. We get in, if not, it will be very hot. Mark 13:13; Matt 10:22; 1 Tim 4:16; 1 Cor 10:12; Heb 12:14, 1 Cor 9:2;7; Phil 2:12=-132; 2 Tim. 2:12;
The Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier and will help us in our journey to heaven. Baptism allows us to have the gifts of the Holy Spirit that help us grow in the image of God.
Mortal Sin will cause us to loose the presence of God within us – Sanctifying grace.
Backsliding gets us into trouble. Once saved, always saved is not scriptural.
Justification means to be in right relationship with God has a child of God. It is not a simple external “coating” with the righteousness of Jesus.
1 John 3:13; Gal 4:5,7; Rom 8:14-17; 2 Cor 5:17.
If you do not have all the answers to your Catholic Faith, you can get them from the Catechism, etc.
God had a plan and it was a plan of love and providence. See Genesis, chapters 1 and 2. We were to have eternal life with God forever.
Adam and Eve chose to forfeit their gift and were expelled from the Garden of Eden. This shut the door to the relationship with God. It was the Father’s plan that we would have the paternity of God, but the sin of Adam and Eve instead passed on what we call “original sin” We are all doomed to eternal death. See Psalm 51:7; and Romans 5:12
Jesus was sent to redeem us. Jesus died on the cross and the Father opened the Gates of heaven so that those who are faithful can join our Father forever after we die on earth. Eph 1:7-8; Eph 2:13;
How do you get to heaven? Through Jesus! There is no other way. John 14:6.
Jesus started the Church so people could learn the ways of holiness, be nourished by His body and blood and have their sins forgiven.
How to Witness for Jesus. You witness every time you tell people about your faith and what God is doing in your life and those you know.
How to give a testimony. A testimony should always be Christ Centered. How did the Holy Spirit lead you to the saving faith of belief in Jesus and life in His Church?
Write it out and practice giving it.
Do not call a priest “father” The Greek pater is used 124 times in the NT to refer to human beings. A priest brings a soul into new life of the Gospel. He counsels people to lead holy lives. He feeds the family with spiritual life. That is why we call a priest “father” and our parent also.
Why do we honor Mary? Jesus did throughout his life. Exod 20:12; Luke 2:51; 1` 1 Cor 11:1. Jesus came first through Mary and will return through her. Honor your mother!
Pope John Paul II on Mercy Sunday, April 30, 2000, spoke about Divine Mercy.
Quoting from Sr. Faustina: “Mankind will not find peace until it turns with trust to My mercy” (diary, # 300).
Forgiveness is the first act of Mercy. We must help people understand that the Our Father gives us a solemn truth. We are forgiven as we forgive. In Titus 3:5 we read:
“When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of any righteous deeds we have done, but because of his mercy.” We are to tell people to turn to Jesus and trust in Him. He will give mercy to all who ask in sincerity.
Techniques that work
Father Frances Bagan, OMI suggested using the Chaplet of Mercy cards that feature Jesus on the front. Rays of the 3 testimonies are coming out of the heart. Jesus said that those who meditate on this image, He would grant graces of mercy. Go door to door and give the card away. Carry some and give them as gifts to waiters and waitresses. Be clever.
Get some tracts and send them in the mail to anyone. The Post Office will deliver them for you.
Say your blessing before meals in restaurants, etc.
Work with the Legion of Mary.
Perform the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.
Send money to those who do the special works of evangelization. E.g. Mother Angelica’s EWTN, Church organizations. Radio; Food programs.
Be nice and loving to your family.
Use retreats to train teams for evangelization
Go door to door. Register people for Church and leave a tract
Write to the editor of a newspaper or magazine when they portray the faith incorrectly.
Call Talk shows
Leave notices for meetings in windows, bulletin boards, and car windshields.
Stand on the street corner with signs
Pray the rosary for souls
Talk to your pastor about evangelizing the person in the pew.
Work with your Diocese for Evangelization
Always be ready to give your testimony or a witness of what Jesus is doing
Pray the Hours of the Passion.
Pray the Stations of the Cross for souls.
MOST IMPORTANT! Do something.
Preliminary Questions for the Examination
You can use the material to help you write out the answers. Writing them out will help you know them better.
Can you now cast a net of love into the sea of the world and catch people?
If not, Re-read and start trying again
This is also part of the FINAL REVIEW IN HEAVEN
"The Church in every age continues the work begun on the day of Pentecost, when the Apostles, in the power of the Holy Spirit, went forth into the streets of Jerusalem to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in many tongues. Through the succeeding centuries, this evangelizing mission spread to the far corners of the earth, as Christianity took root in many places and learned to speak the diverse languages of the world."
"But the history of evangelization is not just a matter of geographic expansion, for the Church has also had to cross many cultural thresholds.... The age of the great discoveries, the Renaissance and the invention of printing, the Industrial Revolution and the birth of the modern world: these too were threshold moments which demanded new forms of evangelization. Now, with the communications and information revolution in full swing, the Church stands unmistakably at another decisive gateway. It is fitting therefore that on this World Communications Day 2002 we should reflect on the subject: 'Internet: A New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel.'
"The Internet is certainly a new 'forum' understood in the ancient Roman sense of a public space. ... lt was a crowded and bustling urban space, which both reflected the surrounding culture and created a culture of its own. This is no less true of cyberspace, which is as it were a new frontier opening up at the beginning of this new millennium. ... For the Church the new world of cyberspace is a summons to the great adventure of using its potential to proclaim the Gospel message."
"The Church approaches this new medium with realism and confidence. Like other communications media, it is a means, not an end in itself. The Internet can offer magnificent opportunities for evangelization if used with competence and a clear awareness of its strengths and weaknesses. Above all, by providing information and stirring interest, it makes possible an initial encounter with the Christian message, especially among the young who increasingly turn to the world of cyberspace as a window on the world.
It is important, therefore, that the Christian community think of very practical ways of helping those who first make contact through the Internet to move from the virtual world of cyberspace to the real world of Christian community.
"At a subsequent stage, the Internet can also provide the kind of follow-up which evangelization requires. ... There already exist on the Net countless sources of information, documentation and education about the Church, her history and tradition, her doctrine and her engagement in every field in all parts of the world. It is clear, then, that Internet ... can certainly provide a unique supplement and support in both preparing for the encounter with Christ in community, and sustaining the new believer in the journey of faith which then begins.
"There are nevertheless certain necessary ... questions which arise in using the Internet in the cause of evangelization. The essence of the Internet in fact is that it provides an almost unending flood of information, much of which passes in a moment. In a culture which feeds on the ephemeral there can easily be a risk of believing that it is facts that matter, rather than values. ... Despite its enormous potential for good, some of the degrading and damaging ways in which the Internet can be used are already obvious to all, and public authorities surely have a responsibility to guarantee that this marvelous instrument serves the common good and does not become a source of harm.
"Furthermore, the Internet radically redefines a person's psychological relationship to time and space. Attention is riveted on what is tangible, useful, instantly available; the stimulus for deeper thought and reflection may be lacking. ... Understanding and wisdom are the fruit of a contemplative eye upon the world, and do not come from a mere accumulation of facts. ... They are the result of an insight which penetrates the deeper meaning of things in relation to one another and to the whole of reality.
Moreover, as a forum in which practically everything is acceptable and almost nothing is lasting, the Internet favors a relativistic way of thinking and sometimes feeds the flight from personal responsibility and commitment."
"The fact that through the Internet people multiply their contacts in ways hitherto unthinkable opens up wonderful possibilities for spreading the Gospel. But it is also true that electronically mediated relationships can never take the place of the direct human contact required for genuine evangelization. For evangelization always depends upon the personal witness of the one sent to evangelize. How does the Church lead from the kind of contact made possible by the Internet to the deeper communication demanded by Christian proclamation? How do we build upon the first contact and exchange of information which the Internet makes possible?
"There is no doubt that the electronic revolution holds out the promise of great positive breakthroughs for the developing world; but there is also the possibility that it will in fact aggravate existing inequalities as the information and communications gap widens.
How can we ensure that the information and communications revolution which has the Internet as its prime engine will work in favor of the globalization of human development and solidarity, objectives closely linked to the Church's evangelizing mission? ... How can we ensure that this wondrous instrument first conceived in the context of military operations can now serve the cause of peace? Can it favor that culture of dialogue, participation, solidarity and reconciliation without which peace cannot flourish? The Church believes it can; and to ensure that this is what will happen she is determined to enter this new forum, armed with the Gospel of Christ, the Prince of Peace.
"The Internet causes billions of images to appear on millions of computer monitors around the planet. From this galaxy of sight and sound will the face of Christ emerge and the voice of Christ be heard? For it is only when His face is seen and His voice heard that the world will know the glad tidings of our redemption. ...Therefore, on this World Communications Day, I dare to summon the whole Church bravely to cross this new threshold, to put out into the deep of the Net, so that now as in the past the great engagement of the Gospel and culture may show to the world 'the glory of God on the face of Christ'."
MESS/WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY/... VIS 20020122 (1130)