Dr Hahn goes on to describe just how evangelization is carried out, both in word and in deed, emphasizing that, while a silent witness can be effective, this in no way frees Catholics from the obligation of using speech.
We are reminded that evangelization is often associated with the work of Protestant Christians, but that all Christians are expected to take part in bringing others to Christ.
This is where he brings out how Catholic evangelization differs from Protestant evangelization. Catholic evangelization is Eucharistic. He unpacks statements by Pope St John Paul II and Francis Cardinal George that Catholic evangelizers proclaim a "Eucharistic Christ." In short, the simplest street corner or coffee table evangelism to bring a person to Christ is in four parts:
- God loves us
- We have sinned
- Christ has died and risen to save us
- We have to respond with faith
That may be where evangelism in practice ends. In Protestant thought, that person is "saved" and cannot be un-saved.
Catholic evangelism, in order to be Eucharistic, must go further. How? This kind of evangelism is more of an ongoing and deepening relationship with Jesus. Dr Hahn likens this process to the three-part movement towards marriage.
- Courtship. In this movement, a person is introduced to the other and begins to get to know the other. Interests are piqued and time is spent together enjoying each other's company. This is analogous to the initial evangelization where a person learns about Jesus and how Jesus wants to be part of his or her life. The person is evangelized.
- Engagement. In this movement, the person takes a step forward and declares a certain conditional exclusivity to the other. He or she is thinking about making a commitment and really focuses on whether the other is the person with whom he or she will spend the rest of their life. This is analogous to an RCIA program where tough questions are asked and a full understanding of the obligations and perhaps quirks of the relationship are revealed. The person is catechized.
- Marriage. In this movement, the person makes a commitment to non-conditional exclusivity with the other. For better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death us do part. This commitment until death is one where each person lives self-sacrificially for the other. Every day an effort must be made to deepen the understanding, trust, and mutual availability for the other. A natural consequence of this mutual love and intimacy is the production of new life though children. This is analogous to being sacramentally brought into the Church and sustained via the sacraments. A natural consequence of this deepening relationship of trust of and intimacy with Jesus is evangelization. The person is sacramentalized.
Note that the final movement is not a once-and-done event. It is ongoing. This is how evangelization is Eucharistic, it is sacramental in that it culminates (but does not end) with the creation of a new family and new life. This is what sacraments DO!
In a related way, the concept of this book that grabbed me by the lapels and got in my face was something that I am sure I knew, but heard so differently here. It is what it means to be "saved." The question "have you been saved?" is one many of us have been asked and is an entrée to street evangelization. This phrase is where it hit: "Salvation is more than about being forgiven."
If we are fallen people, guilty of sin and going to hell because of it, we need forgiveness. Forgiveness is the washing away of our guilt, giving us entrance into heaven, right? Not quite. How would being forgiven give us entrance to heaven?
Salvation is nothing less than sacramental adoption into God's family. This means that not ONLY am I forgiven, I am made an heir. (Rom 8:17) All that God has is mine and I am unconditionally loved. Heaven is a state where I am living as a child of God. Where can this happen? After I am dead? Nope! God has ordained that this happens here on earth in his Church. At Mass, in the Eucharist, we are taken to heaven, joined in worship and at a meal with the rest of our family, the saints living and dead. The marriage supper of the Lamb is OUR wedding feast, because it is sacramental, it is Eucharistic!
Let the feast begin! And bring your friends!