Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

At a more personal level

August 24th, 2012, Promulgated by b a

Here at CleansingFire, we obviously stand up for what we believe and don’t back down from speaking the truth. At times it’s good to be reminded, though, that different situations call for different strategies. I thought this recent article has some good tips for evangelizing at a personal level.

Lessons from Catholic Evangelists

Peterson’s first rule of evangelization is: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Potential converts must first experience an evangelist’s love and caring, he explained, before they will listen to Catholic teaching or accept an invitation to Church.

(in case anyone is wondering – this post was not spawned by the heated discussion taking place elsewhere on this blog)


17 Responses to “At a more personal level”

  1. brother of penance says:

    “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”


    I have to confess that in earliest efforts at evangelizing I relied on the buttonhole method.

    Yikes. Not only would I corner bus passengers with this worst of direct approaches, I thought putting them on the spot would bring them to the essential question of WHAT AM I TO DO WITH CHRIST?

    Worst yet, family and friends could not enjoy a relaxed gathering without me trying to show them something was wrong with their faith.

    Last confession. I spent 5 years trying to talk Catholics out of the Church into the expression of Christianity I thought was the most biblical. Ugh!

    Suffice to say I came home to Rome and have been learning to exercise life-style evangelization.

    The article that Ben linked for us in CWR is right on.

    May each of us grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and invite everyone we meet to the same relationship with God through his Son, in the Holy Spirit.

  2. Jim says:

    Jim M. here: Good insight, Ben… a lot of converts are brought into the Church, if they believe in the sincerity and concern of the evangelizer!

  3. Raymond F. Rice says:

    In my 65 years of evangelization ( my first attempt was with the six year old next door in 1947 and it failed ), I have found that it is better for me to concentrate on performing the corporal works of mercy and spiritual works of mercy. It seems that the kindness and caring implicit in them seems to generate, in the recipients of the good works, an interest in our motives.

    Feed the hungry
    Give drink to the thirsty
    Clothe the naked
    Shelter the homeless
    Visit the sick
    Visit those in prison
    Bury the dead

    Admonish sinners
    Instruct the ignorant
    Counsel the doubtful
    Comfort the sorrowful
    Bear wrongs patiently
    Forgive injuries
    Pray for the living and the dead

    I begin with the corporal works and move to the spiritual works or more likely combine them.

  4. brother of penance says:

    Other effective/fruitful evangelizers can be found at

    Also, the evangelistic mission of the Church is a primary focus at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

    Over the years we have been blessed by many apostolates that know what the evangelistic mission is and which have been graced with fuitfulness.

    For example, check out Curtis Martin’s FOCUS.

  5. Raymond F. Rice says:

    I am personally overwhelmed by the number of responses from this blog’s readers to this important question.( sarcasm) It addresses the core of evangelization and Christ’s meesage.

  6. Gretchen says:


    Perhaps some of us have been very busy doing just what is called for in Ben’s post.

    No sarcasm.

    Gretchen from SOP

  7. brother of penance says:

    Raymond F. Rice, thank you for making the observation the cleansingfiredor family doesn’t offer many comments on this subject.

    I have a few ideas about the reasons.

    Many of our beloved brothers and sisters do not know how to evangelize; could be they haven’t yet experienced being evangelized or could be they haven’t yet been trained in how to announce the saving announcement called the Good News of Jesus Christ.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church, however, states that the true apostle is on the lookout for opportunities to announce Christ by word to both believers and unbelievers.

    Do we have a profound desire to bring others to Christ and bring Christ to others?

    There is a difference between quoting Church documents and sharing faith on a personal basis. I don’t mean to imply that quoting documents doesn’t manifest a personal investment in those official teachings. It is a learned behavior, however, to translate the obedience of faith into a personal testimony to Jesus Christ.

    Then, of course, a percentage of us could be those the Popes have said are the sacramentalized who still need to be evangelized.

    It is the encounter with Christ Crucified and Risen, the life transforming encounter, that initiates that relationship of love about which the lovers can’t wait to tell others.

    Sure we encounter the Savior in the sacraments. Have we ever considered that encounter to be the impetus to go out and announce, proclaim, herald? Imagine if every Catholic who receives the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament goes out and tells someone of the love of God in Christ crucified and risen. We would turn the world around.

    The article which Ben linked for us in this post is very good. Those resource people have many resources from which we budding evangelizers can benefit. Try also Peter Herbeck’s broadcast FIRE ON THE EARTH is all about evangelizing.

    I am glad to know that Gretchen is busy announcing the announcement. Good work!

    Yet, just like network marketing entrepreneurs, we evangelizers need to keep sharing faith experiences with each other. We depend on encouragement to keep on keeping on.

    By means of this post, Ben has re-introduced our cleansingfiredor family to the reason the
    the Church exists. To Evangelize!

    At a more personal level……what an apt title for this most personal endeavor!

  8. Scott W. says:

    Bad faith assumption: the silence means people don’t care.
    Good faith assumption: the silence is a kind of unofficial nihil obstat from the contributers and readers and people feel no need to comment on something not in dispute.

    Go with the good faith assumption.

  9. Raymond F. Rice says:

    To all: points well taken!!

    When in doubt and want to try something, bake a cake (MEN too!!) and take it to someone who has lost a loved one and let God the Holy Spirit take it from there!!

  10. brother of penance says:

    “we obviously stand up for what we believe and don’t back down from speaking the truth”

    “different situations call for different strategies”

    “I thought this recent article has some good tips for evangelizing at a personal level”

    “Potential converts must first experience an evangelist’s love and caring”

    “Pope Benedict XVI said, “Today’s world needs people who proclaim and testify that it is Christ who teaches the art of living, the way of true happiness, because he himself is the path of life.”

    ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us?’, answer with the same courage and the same trust as the Prophet: ‘Here am I! Send me’ (Isaiah 6:8).”

    “6. The mission of the Church pertains to the salvation of men, which is to be achieved by belief in Christ and by His grace” (DECREE ON THE APOSTOLATE OF THE LAITY

    a true apostle looks for opportunities to announce Christ by words addressed either to non-believers with a view to leading them to faith, or to the faithful with a view to instructing, strengthening, and encouraging them to a more fervent life. “For the charity of Christ impels us” (2 Cor. 5:14). The words of the Apostle should echo in all hearts, “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16).(APOSTOLICAM ACTUOSITATEM)

    24….the person who has been evangelized goes on to evangelize others. Here lies the test of truth, the touchstone of evangelization: it is unthinkable that a person should accept the Word and give himself to the kingdom without becoming a person who bears witness to it and proclaims it in his turn. (EVANGELII NUNTIANDI)

    27. Evangelization will also always contain – as the foundation, center, and at the same time, summit of its dynamism – a clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all men, as a gift of God’s grace and mercy……..a salvation…….in order to reach fulfillment in a communion with the one and only divine Absolute: a transcendent and eschatological salvation, which indeed has its beginning in this life but which is fulfilled in eternity.

    80.It would be useful if every Christian and every evangelizer were to pray about the following thought:…….can we gain salvation if through negligence or fear or shame- what St. Paul called “blushing for the Gospel”[134] – or as a result of false ideas we fail to preach it? (EVANGELII NUNTIANDI)

    “We cannot but speak” (Acts 4:20)
    11. we must first clearly affirm our faith in Christ, the one Savior of mankind, a faith we have received as a gift from on high, not as a result of any merit of our own. We say with Paul, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith” (Rom 1:16). (REDEMPTORIS MISSIO On the permanent validity of the Church’s missionary mandate)

    21. the Holy Spirit remains the transcendent and principal agent for the accomplishment of this work in the human spirit and in the history of the world…..In all of this it is the Holy Spirit who gives life. (REDEMPTORIS MISSIO)

    29. every authentic prayer is prompted by the Holy Spirit (REDEMPTORIS MISSIO)

  11. brother of penance says:

    At a more personal level

    “the silence is a kind of unofficial nihil obstat from the contributers and readers and people feel no need to comment on something not in dispute” wrote Scott W.

    Hmm….so this website’s contributors and readers only offer comment about bad news?
    This website’s contributors and readers only comment on what is in dispute?

    Be challenged, cleansingfiredor family! Evangelize and be evangelized!!

    Be challenged to speak and write boldly about your faith in Christ, how you came to encounter him and experience his life changing power and grace.

    Perhaps you have devoutly related to the Son of God from childhood. Good. Tell us about it.

    Perhaps you fell away and came back with passion and zeal. Good. Tell us about it.

    Perhaps you came to Christ at an Easter Vigil to be initiated into the Church and experienced the power of baptism, confirmation and eucharist as an adult. Good. Tell us about it.

    Ok, Raymond F. Rice, Gretchen and Scott W., please be the first to accept this challenge. Tell us your story. Tell us of Christ in your lives. Encourage us, Exhort us, Inspire us.

    Thank you for considering speaking up and writing at a more personal level for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

  12. Scott W. says:

    Hmm….so this website’s contributors and readers only offer comment about bad news?
    This website’s contributors and readers only comment on what is in dispute?

    Bad faith assumption: cleansing fire denizens are chaos junkies
    Good faith assumption: sometimes cleansing fire contributers are content to listen rather than comment.

    Let me recommend the good faith assumption.

  13. brother of penance says:

    Bad faith assumption: the silence means people don’t care.

    Bad faith assumption: cleansing fire denizens are chaos junkies

    Twice now, Scott W. has mentioned bad faith assumptions.

    His brother of penance merely has been trying to elicit faith and faith sharing. which are first important steps in the process of evangelizing.

    So, Silence is golden? …..saying nothing is preferable to speaking?

    If listening is preferred, so be it.

    As for me my house, however, we will be on the look out for opportunities to announce Christ by word to both believers and unbelievers. Romans 1:16,17

  14. Scott W. says:

    His brother of penance merely has been trying to elicit faith and faith sharing. which are first important steps in the process of evangelizing.

    My good faith assumption is that that was your intention. Your execution however I found condescending and patronizing. I’ll my grant that perhaps my responses can be seen as that as well and I’ll try to work on that, but this whole implicit what-lurketh-in-the-dark-corners-of-the-souls-of-people-who-aren’t-commenting-enough is disputation in search of a point. It’s cheap motive-impugning and we get enough of that from progressivist dissenters around here.

    So here’s me telling you want to do. (That is, if you actually want people to listen to you.)

    Avoid going “Hmmm” and other things like “uhhh” (I confess to having a problem with using “well”) in comments. It’s gratuitously dismissive of other people and puts them in combat mode.

    Don’t refer to yourself in the third person. It’s pretentious and this is not a Seinfeld episode.

    Don’t sling Scripture like a baseball bat. You may think “As for me and my house” is innocent and clever, but to someone you (I assume) are trying to persuade, it is little different than “I’ll pray for you and the horse you rode in on”. Uncle Di used to call this the “olive branch in the eye” tactic.

    Let the Aristotelian-Thomist types be Aristotelian-Thomist types. That means we do our evangelizing and teaching primarily through the handling of objections. No objection and we tend to twiddle our thumbs until one comes along (thankfully they are like buses; there’s always another one coming). Now I will grant that this might be off-putting to some and that A-T’s just want to argue for the sake of arguing, but if you actually watch me in action, I try my level best to be fair even if I am pointed and forceful and merciless to error. That means no name-calling, motive impugning, and other stuff that is superfluous to the topic at hand because I don’t want to be merciless to the one making the error. I’m not always successful and because I’m human, sometimes there is some out-of-bounds spillover, but I count on guys like you to throw the yellow flag.

    And so you got me contributing to this entry you sly fox. Well done, sir.

  15. brother of penance says:

    If you find Jamie Stuart Wolfe’s story interesting, go ahead, try it,send an email to the address below and share your story of faith in Jesus Christ, the Only Savior of the world.

  16. brother of penance says:

    In Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical MISSION OF THE REDEEMER we read in part:

    The Initial Proclamation of Christ the Savior

    44. Proclamation is the permanent priority of mission…… “Evangelization will always contain-as the foundation, center and at the same time the summit of its dynamism-a clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ…salvation is offered to all people, as a gift of God’s grace and mercy……(which introduces us into) the mystery of the love of God, who invites him to enter into a personal relationship with himself in Christ and opens the way to conversion. Faith is born of preaching, and every (church) community draws its origin and life from the personal response of each believer to that preaching.

    The subject of proclamation is Christ who was crucified, died and is risen: through him is accomplished our full and authentic liberation from evil, sin and death; through him God bestows “new life” that is divine and eternal.

    This is the “Good News” which changes man and his history, and which all peoples have a right to hear. This proclamation is to be made within the context of the lives of the individuals and peoples who receive it. It is to be made with an attitude of love and esteem toward those who hear it, in language which is practical and adapted to the situation. In this proclamation the Spirit is at work and establishes a communion between the missionary and his hearers, a communion which is possible inasmuch as both enter into communion with God the Father through Christ.

    Proclamation is inspired by faith, which gives rise to enthusiasm and fervor in the missionary. As already mentioned, the Acts of the Apostles uses the word parrhesia to describe this attitude, a word which means to speak frankly and with courage. This term is found also in St. Paul: “We had courage in our God to declare to you the Gospel of God in the face of great opposition” (1 Th 2:2); “Pray…also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph 6:18-20).

    (The missionary) knows that he is not proclaiming a human truth, but the “word of God,” which has an intrinsic and mysterious power of its own (cf. Rom 1:16).

    The supreme test is the giving of one’s life, to the point of accepting death in order to bear witness to one’s faith in Jesus Christ. Throughout Christian history, martyrs, that is, “witnesses,” have always been numerous and indispensable to the spread of the Gospel. In our own age, there are many: bishops, priests, men and women religious, lay people-often unknown heroes who give their lives to bear witness to the faith. They are par excellence the heralds and witnesses of the faith.

    46. The proclamation of the Word of God has Christian conversion as its aim: a complete and sincere adherence to Christ and his Gospel through faith. Conversion is a gift of God, a work of the Blessed Trinity. It is the Spirit who opens people’s hearts so that they can believe in Christ and “confess him” (cf. 1 Cor 12:3); of those who draw near to him through faith Jesus says: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (Jn 6:44).

    From the outset, conversion is expressed in faith which is total and radical, and which neither limits nor hinders God’s gift. At the same time, it gives rise to a dynamic and lifelong process which demands a continual turning away from “life according to the flesh” to “life according to the Spirit” (cf. Rom 8:3-13). Conversion means accepting, by a personal decision, the saving sovereignty of Christ and becoming his disciple.

    The Church calls all people to this conversion, following the example of John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Christ by “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mk 1:4), as well as the example of Christ himself, who “after John was arrested,…came into Galilee preaching the Gospel of God and saying: ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel'” (Mk 1:14-15).

    ….. every person has the right to hear the “Good News” of the God who reveals and gives himself in Christ, so that each one can live out in its fullness his or her proper calling. This lofty reality is expressed in the words of Jesus to the Samaritan woman: “If you knew the gift of God,” and in the unconscious but ardent desire of the woman: “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst” (Jn 4:10, 15).

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