As a young adult active in the life of my parish and diocese, I am often asked why I “do what I do.” The even better question I am frequently (but usually jokingly) asked is, “What is wrong with you?!” These questions are typically posed by the “church ladies” that will often comment on my bright red hair and then go on to lament the fact that their children or grandchildren do not attend Mass on Sundays.
I find these conversations to be great times for evangelization, and I try to respond with a question of my own: “When was the last time you asked them to come with you?” A blank face usually stares back at me. As Catholics, inviting someone to go to Mass with them is often a foreign concept.
For many of us (myself included), faith is a very personal thing, and the thought of wearing it on our sleeves is not necessarily the most comfortable. Perhaps the Season of Advent that we will begin on Sunday is the perfect opportunity to invite a friend, family member, or neighbor back to the practice of their faith.
As we wrestle between the Season of Advent and the secular Christmas season, it might be helpful to view our lives as Christians as a perpetual Advent, as a constant rebirth. The Advent that we seek is something new, something filled with the grace of rejuvenation through the working of the Holy Spirit.
The mission of baptized Christians is to believe, practice, and teach the truths of the faith. Responding to this call in a responsible and proactive way is often the problematic or challenging part to living out the task of evangelization.
The picture of faith that we often paint for ourselves is frequently an illusion of what we desire out of our own human weakness. If faith lacks substance, Pope Benedict XVI has said that our individual faith “will not be big enough to cope with reality.” If we believe that a sign will fall from the heavens with the answers to our questions of faith, then we are missing the signs that God provides for us each and every day.
In its authenticity, true faith should be given out of love for God and with the confidence that God does not need our praise and thanksgiving. Although we trust in a God that we cannot see, we believe in the Advent of a renewing and fulfilling redeemer whose Church should be compelled to evangelize and spread the message of salvation.
My challenge to you as we begin this Season of Advent is this: Invite someone to go to Mass with you. Smile. Listen to some Christmas music. Put some pocket change in the bell ringer’s bucket for charity. “Prepare the way of the Lord” (Mk 1:3) and “be vigilant at all times” (Lk 21:36). A blessed Advent to you and yours!
Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ
with righteous deeds at his coming,
so that, gathered at his right hand,
they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
-Collect, First Sunday of Advent
Alex R. Boucher is the Program & Operations Coordinator for the Catholic Apostolate Center. Follow Alex on Twitter at @AlexBoucher.