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Posted June 11, 2009
Rev. Martin Pable sees the roots of effective evangelization in "living our faith, giving an example of Christian love, moral integrity, and a spirit of joy. It involves listening and encouraging others to share their human struggles and their spiritual longings."
In the opening pages of this revised parish guide, Pable stresses that the goal of evangelization is not to add members to parish rolls, but to "make known the person and the message of Jesus Christ. The Church is not the center; Jesus is."
He suggests several reasons for the current situation in which an increase in "converts" is accompanied by large scale defections. He writes of "squabbles" within the Church related to teachings on such issues as sexuality, the role of women, and mandatory celibacy. At the parish level, he sees a maintenance mentality concentrating on "saving the saved." He poses four general questions: Why are we losing so many people? Why are other churches "stealing our fire"? How can we reclaim "Gospel vitality that is the very heart of our Church"?
From there, Pable constructs a guideline for Catholic evangelization (and important ways it differs from the fundamentalist "have you been saved?" variety). Chapter titles include evangelizing (1) active Catholics, (2) inactive Catholics and the Unchurched, and (3) the culture. The book is filled with practical suggestions in easy to use formats such as bulleted and numbered lists. This comprehensive resource is a blessing for Church leaders and people in the pews with a serious interest in spreading the Gospel and sharing the Good News.