Are Catholics called to evangelize?

Evangelize– to preach the Christian Gospel; to convert or seek to convert others.

Are Catholics called to evangelize? Absolutely. Do Catholics usually leave it up to the Protestants? Yup. 

But evangelizing is essential to the Church.

Bishop Robert Barron explains:

“Vatican II couldn’t be clearer on this score, seeing the Church itself as nothing but a vehicle for evangelization. According to Vatican II, it’s not so much the case that the Church has a mission, but rather that a mission has the Church. Bringing people to Christ is not one work among many; rather it is the central work of the Church, that around which everything else that we do revolves.”
…Around which everything else that we do revolves. 

Did you hear that?
To never evangelize is to get the Church all wrong.

Jesus himself calls us to evangelize. 
Just look at today’s Gospel in His words: 

And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay. Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with him until you depart. As you enter the house, salute it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. 

Matthew 10 : 7 – 15

Clearly, Jesus is instructing his first disciples to go out and bring others to communion with Him. 

In fact, the apostles were sent out as simple witnesses. They were not perfect people. They were not the smartest or the richest or the most talented. Yet, they were sent to form the Church in a world that opposed them in every way. 

They did so because God appointed them, as He appoints you and I. 

So how should Catholics go about evangelizing? 

Well, we shouldn’t leave it up to the Protestants and atheists (yes, I said atheists, but let’s save explaining “evangelical atheist” for another post). 

Pray for guidance and courage. 

Pray for non-believers. 

Ask God to use you for His purpose. 

Follow through.

Let the following words comfort you, from Father Mitch Pacwa:

“We very much have to evangelize *this* culture – where we live. God created each one of our souls so that we would be in this place, at this time, in this culture; you were not made for the Renaissance; you were not created for the Middle Ages; or the Roman Empire, or any other time in history. Now is the time when we exist. And God calls us *now* like he called the apostles, to this task of proclaiming. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” 

A follow-up post will be for a book review of “Search and Rescue” by Patrick Madrid, which details steps every Catholic apologist and evangelist should take in bringing others to the Church. 

Go out, good Catholic, and spread the Good News!

Can you be virtuous without loving God?

This is part one of a two-part post.

How does one become virtuous?

The dictionary definition of virtuous is to be morally excellent, righteous, and/or chaste.

Can one be a virtuous person without God? 
According to the Catechism, a virtuous person freely practices the good. Virtues allow a person to perform good acts and give the best of himself (1804).

So why believe in God at all if you can be virtuous without Him?
Atheists preach that humans are drawn to virtue because they are looking after their own self-interest. Citing scholars like Plato, atheists propose humans believe all gods teach goodness because humans already know the benefits of doing good. Humans doing good serves the individual through gratification and avoiding bad consequences. Read excerpt below for more:

“The person who practices “enlightened” self-interest is the person whose behavioral strategy simultaneously maximizes both the intensity and duration of personal gratification. An enlightened strategy will be one which, when practiced over a long span of time, will generate ever greater amounts and varieties of pleasures and satisfactions. The task of moral education, then, is not to inculcate by rote great lists of do’s and don’ts, but rather to help people to predict the consequences of actions being considered. What are the long-term as well as immediate rewards and drawbacks of the acts? Will an act increase or decrease one’s chances of experiencing the hedonic triad of love, beauty, and creativity?” (

Are the atheists correct? 

Well, not exactly
Sacrifice Works Against One’s Self-Interest

Where would children be without the sacrifice of their parents? Over the course of people’s lives, at least one parent made decisions which put the welfare of their children over their own self-interest. 

But what about parents who only want to be seen as good parents and force their children to do things that serve the selfish pride of the parents? Aren’t these parents merely seeking self-gratification?

In some cases, maybe so. But what of a mother, scorned for pregnancy out of wedlock, who selflessly delivers her baby so that he or she may live, and then gives the child to another person to adopt? All the while doing the right thing out of pure goodness…receiving no gratification inwardly or from her peers. Her sacrifice makes her vulnerable. Her actions require inconvenience. 

She doesn’t have self-interest. Because she cares more for the child than for herself. Her sacrifice does not fit into the mold of the atheist self-interest point of view. 

My Deeds Cannot Be Virtuous if My Thoughts Are Not

Am I still virtuous if my thoughts are unholy? 

Let’s say a fictional person named Tommy detests homeless people. Perhaps Tommy presumes all homeless choose to be homeless and Tommy secretly disrespects them. He refuses to love them in spite of their flaws. It is even possible that homeless people have been cruel or acted like jerks towards Tommy in the past. What if Tommy, when accompanied by his girlfriend, sees a homeless man on the street, and despite his own resentful thoughts, Tommy decides to give the man a dollar so that Tommy’s girlfriend finds his actions good? Is Tommy doing good? 

Well, Tommy is acting in self-interest, and it is good to share with the homeless, so an atheist, by definition, would say that Tommy is good. But because Tommy still curses the man and wishes him ill, a Catholic would say that Tommy is not good or virtuous. A Catholic would say Tommy is selfish for only seeking his own gratification, appearing virtuous to his girlfriend, in the donation.

Virtue by Self-Interest Alone is Illogical

To simply care about one’s own self interest is to live a selfish life, not a virtuous one. To pretend otherwise is illogical.

After defining human virtues as seen above, the Catechism goes on to explain the role of faith, hope, and love (theological virtues) when utilizing human virtues. 

We cannot accurately describe the role of a Christian’s virtues without acknowledging the essential three theological virtues. These three virtues take all other virtues and unite them with God. Prudence, temperance, wisdom, etc. are all human virtuous on their own, but misplaced unless utilized with faith, hope, and charity (love) in God.

In the example above, had Tommy used his faith in God to see that the homeless person is made in God’s image and been hopeful of salvation for the homeless man, or had loved the homeless man in spite of the man’s flaws, Tommy would have found it impossible to act only in self-interest. He would be acting in great charity to reach out to the homeless man, not for Tommy’s own interest, but for the homeless man’s interest.

Charity (love) is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God (1822).

Faith helps us because it is not easy for man, wounded by sin, to maintain moral balance. Christ’s gift of salvation offers us the grace necessary to persevere in the pursuit of the virtues. Everyone should always ask for this grace of light and strength, frequent the sacraments, cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and follow his calls to love what is good and shun evil (1811).

Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit (1817).

Part two of this post will discuss virtue signaling and the role of one’s self-interest in appearing virtuous.

We love because He loved us first. 

1 John 4:19