Full question: How can we effectively evangelize in our tradition? Is inviting people to Divine Liturgy or Vespers too “advanced” for the curious/none Christians?
Answered by: Fr. Rendy and Fr. Julian
Fr. Rendy’s Response:
First, be yourself. Let the Holy Spirit flow to radiate your energy to touch people. (Are you excited about your faith?) Second, by all means, yes invite these people to Vespers, Divine Liturgy, etc. (in a language that they can understand, that is important). If they are open to God, the Holy Spirit will touch them, maybe not now, but later. It will leave a mark. God works in mysterious ways.
Fr Julian’s Response:
Thank you for your questions. There is no doubt that our lives should proclaim the Gospel to others and proclaim it effectively. As Pope Benedict says in Verbum Domini [The Word of the Lord], “It is not a matter of preaching a word of consolation, but rather a word which disrupts, which calls to conversion and which opens the way to an encounter with the one through whom a new humanity flowers” (no. 93). In the Catechism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Christ Our – Pascha, paragraph 60, we read: “The Gospel of Christ has been preached to various nations within the diversity of their cultures. This process has been called inculturation— the expression of the one Tradition within the diversity of local traditions, and the convergence of evangelization with the particularities of human cultures, languages, ways of life, and ways of thinking. … The one Tradition was to be expressed in various cultures that are transfigured by the power of the Gospel, in accordance with the words of the apostle Paul: ‘To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews … To those outside of the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) that I might win those outside the law … I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some’” (1 Cor. 9:20-22). And so we also must strive to be all things to all people: to come to know them, to understand them, to allow for differences in thinking, and to be patient.
Please keep inviting all the curious to Vespers and Divine Liturgy. Explain the services to them. Invite them to speak with your pastor. Journey with them. Let them encounter the One that you have encountered. Place an icon at your workplace. Tell them about it, about your traditions, about your love for the Lord and what the Lord has done in your life. Tell them about the icons and how we use them in our Eastern Church. Invite them to pray with you. Are we always going to be successful? Probably not. But we continue the work of evangelizing. In the Gospel of John (1: 35-39) we read: “The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), ‘Where are you staying? He said to them, “Come and see.”
And as we invite them to come and see how we live and pray, we need to be mindful of the still relevant words of Pope Paul VI’s 1975 encyclical Proclaiming the Gospel [Evangelii Nuntiandi], addressed to all who would be evangelizers: “Modern men and women listen more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if they do listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” (67). It is the integrity with which we proclaim the Gospel with our lives that, in the end, will be our most persuasive message.
At the beginning of his apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel”, Pope Francis wrote: “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting Him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since ‘no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord’” (“Evangelii Gaudium,” 3).
God bless your good work and kind-heartedness.
Respectfully submitted by Fr. Julian Bilyj