You want to know a pet peeve of mine? It drives me up a wall when people misattribute quotes to famous people. Did you know that in Star Trek, Captain Kirk never said “Beam me up, Scotty”? It’s true! Look it up! And, while we’re at it, Sherlock Holmes never said “Elementary, my dear Watson”. That one blew my mind when I heard that.
However, the one that really grinds my gears is when people quote St. Francis of Assisi as saying “preach the Gospel at all times, use words when necessary”. He never said that. The closest thing he did say was in the original Rule of Life for the Franciscan Order, saying that all friars should “preach by their deeds”, rather than having his uneducated (and therefore not canonically permitted to preach publicly on behalf of the Church in a formal capacity, like at Mass) friars risk accidentally preaching heresy.
This all got me thinking – how, then, should the everyday Catholic church-goer preach? What are some practical ways literally anyone can proclaim the Gospel?
St. Peter gives us a solid way to do that – “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do so with gentleness and reverence” (1st Peter 3:15). Start by asking yourself, “Why do I believe what I believe? What do I love most about my faith? How have I seen God acting in my life recently?”. We can’t properly proclaim the Gospel if we aren’t sure why we believe it – know your reasons why, and practice sharing them, maybe with a spouse or a trusted friend.
Another great way to practice preaching is by inviting friends to events here at St. Francis, such as Discovering Christ, the CHRP retreat, Young Church, or even just to mass! Maybe even join a Connect Group! Building community is another great way to preach the Gospel! Make friends with the people you sit next to in the pews, invite them over to your house for lunch after mass, or go watch the Cowboys game with them on Main Street after mass! When you’re getting to know them, share with them why you believe what you believe, and how you’ve seen God at work in your life.
I think a lot of times we can get intimidated with the idea of preaching the Gospel, but I really don’t think we should let it. With any big task (and I can’t think of any bigger than preaching the saving and life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ), you start simple, take lots of baby steps, and eventually the bigger things seem smaller, and before you know it, it becomes almost second nature. Jesus invites us to preach the Gospel, and he promises us that we’re never alone when we do it.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20)
This blog post was written by Sam Ford, Coordinator of Middle School Youth Ministry here at St. Francis of Assisi. If you’re interested in writing a blog for St. Francis of Assisi, please contact Joseph at firstname.lastname@example.org.