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Lenten Evangelization

Most of the people I know tend to treat Lent almost purely as a time to turn inward, to contemplate our own personal spiritual state.  In many ways, that’s absolutely a core focus of this time in our liturgical calendar.  This weekend I had to present to my Lay Dominican Chapter on Chapter 3 of Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium, and much of what I read there made me wonder if perhaps we aren’t all missing something.

Throughout this document the theme of evangelization is repeated – it works its way into every part, even areas we wouldn’t at first think of as related.  Contemplating that, I am reminded of repeated stories in the course of Church history where people were converted to the Faith – or away from the faith – by the example of people who lived authentic and austere lives, and I’m forced to wonder: why not now?  In an age where people are surrounded by the fake and artificial (hello “reality” shows, I’m looking at you) and by the insincere and inauthentic (let’s face it, that’s far too many of our politicians), they are absolutely longing for anything that is really real.

Lent is a time when most of us “get real” about our faith, even if our practice of it has been weak or thin.  In a world that is seeking the real, this is the perfect time for each and every one of us to renew that evangelical impulse that is part and parcel of being Catholic.  Get out there and take your Lent out into the world and don’t be shy* about it – you never know who just might be moved to finally open their heart to the Holy Spirit.

* That, of course, doesn’t mean that you should go out and be all flashy and showing off at your Lenten penance, because that would not be authentic at all.  Just be with the people you encounter – accompany them as the Pope writes – and when the opportunity arises, allow yourself to be a vessel for use by the Holy Spirit.  He’ll take care of the rest.

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