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A Very Special Anniversary

 

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak at EWTN studios

My Greatest Fear

On January 6, 2012 one of my greatest fears came true. For the first time in my 30 year career in software development, I was laid off. Even though I was feeling the call to work for the Lord (although I didn’t know exactly how), the layoff hit me like a ton of bricks. We had just started homeschooling a few months before and I was the sole provider for my family. Looking back now, however, what seemed like the “end of the world” turned out to be one of my greatest blessings.

While I had a desire to do the Lord’s work, I expected to be working for a church, a diocese or an organization and wanted to do it on my terms. I was very comfortable receiving a bi-weekly paycheck and I didn’t want that to change. Apparently, God had other plans. After receiving encouragement from my amazing wife (Eileen), we decided to “go for it”. I would try to earn a living as a full time Catholic evangelist with no guarantee of any salary.

Although I was blessed to be able to appear on several Catholic radio shows and do some blogging prior to my layoff, I never earned one penny for my work. Now, I would need to find a way to bring in money in a hurry! My first book (A Worrier’s Guide To The Bible) was scheduled to be released in October of 2012 and I started accepting speaking engagements, but the first year was incredibly difficult. Things gradually got better over the course of the second, third and fourth years, but it was still very challenging.

My Greatest Blessing

Today, I celebrate my fourth year in full time ministry. And, while my family and I still live month to month, I have seen God do amazing things in my life. Over the past four years, I have proclaimed the “Good News” throughout the United States and Canada. I am currently finishing the manuscript for my 6th book. I am a regular guest on EWTN TV and Radio, host two radio programs and appear frequently on local Catholic radio stations around the country. Incredibly, I have also become the leading Catholic speaker on overcoming anxiety.

How is it possible for a former lukewarm Catholic and lifelong worrier to be sharing the gospel on a full time basis for the past four years? How could someone who worked in the corporate world for 30 years now be spreading the “Good News” for a living? The answer is simple. I owe everything to the Lord. A little over ten years ago, I encountered Jesus in a big way. I felt like St. Paul on the road to Damascus. That meeting changed my life. Little by little, He has lead me down this path. I have experienced successes and I have experienced failures, but He has opened many doors for me. God has done “the impossible” in my life over and over.

What Keeps Me Going

I’ve been asked what keeps me going when it’s so difficult to survive in full time Catholic ministry. For one thing, I am always looking for signs that God is blessing my work (new book contracts, speaking engagements, positive feedback). This is a critical step in discerning the Lord’s will. As a husband and father, I must provide for the needs of my family. If the day comes when I can no longer do that through my full time ministry, I know that God is telling me to move on.

What else keeps me going and helps me to deal with the uncertainty that I face each day? There are two Bible passages that echo in my mind constantly:

The first one is the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). We have all been given talents and are expected to use them to advance God’s kingdom on earth. On the day of our judgment, we will have to answer for how we used the skills God gave us. What is so striking about this parable is that the wicked servant wasn’t punished for what he did, but for what he didn’t do. Because he was afraid, he buried his talent in the ground instead of investing it. This message really gets my attention.

The second passage comes from Psalm 95, which I pray every morning as part of the Liturgy of the Hours:

O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. (Psalm 95:7-9)

Over the past four years, I have seen the Lord work numerous miracles in my life. I know what He can do. He has always been there for me in the past. How could I not trust Him with my future?

What I Have Learned

I firmly believe that if God asks us to do something, He will give us what we need to get the job done. I also believe that He can do all things, including taking a shy, apathetic, software developer and using him to spread the gospel message in a very public way. If He can use me, He can use you too. Don’t ever dismiss the thought that you might be called to work for Him in some way. Take time to carefully discern what you feel you’re being called to do. Watch for doors to open and learn to be patient. You never know what He might have planned for you!

Gary Zimak is the author of “A Worrier’s Guide To The Bible”, “Listen To Your Blessed Mother”, “From Fear To Faith” and “Faith, Hope and Clarity”. He is a frequent speaker at parishes and conferences across the United States and Canada and is recognized as the leading Catholic speaker on overcoming anxiety. In addition to hosting his own daily radio show on BlogTalkRadio, Gary is a regular guest on EWTN television and radio.

4 Announcements Coming Soon…Stay Tuned!


 

Beginning later today, I’ll be making the first of four announcements. Each of these announcements involves a new outreach for my apostolate. Although I didn’t plan it this way, each of these new endeavors will begin in January. Stay tuned!

The Year Of Faith – 10 Things You Should Know


 

In his Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei (The Door of Faith), Pope Benedict XVI explained his reasoning behind declaring the Year of Faith (Oct 11, 2012 – November 24, 2013). While I recommend that you read the full document, here are 10 highlights that every Catholic should know.

1. The Door of Faith Is Always Open – Although we may choose to resist, the Lord’s door is always open and He waits patiently for us to enter.

2. The Journey of Faith Lasts A Lifetime – We start on this journey at baptism and complete it at our death. Faith is not a destination, but a journey – one which lasts a lifetime!

3. Lukewarmness is Not an Option! – The Holy Father states that we “cannot accept that salt should become tasteless or the light be kept hidden”. We are called to live and share our Catholic Faith and can’t get complacent.

4. Belief In Jesus Is the Way to Salvation – Want to know the way to “arrive definitively at salvation”? Believe in Jesus Christ and follow the teachings of His Church.

5. Vatican II Meant Something – As Catholics, we should all become familiar with the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Reading them will teach us much about our Catholic Faith.

6. Read The Catechism – It’s been 20 years since the new Catechism of the Catholic Church was published. If you’re serious about living your Catholic Faith, it’s time to either get a copy, take your copy off of the bookshelf or read it online. It is a treasure and summarizes 2000 years of Church teaching!

7. Share Your Faith – According to Pope Benedict, “A Christian may never think of belief as a private act”. While that’s exactly the opposite of what the world tells us, who are you gonna believe – the pope or the world?

8. Look To The Past – By faith…Mary accepted the angel’s word and believed the message, the Apostles left everything to follow Jesus, the disciples formed the first community and the martyrs gave their lives. These men and women are our role models and show us what it means to truly believe. Imitate their lives!

9. Be Nice – Faith and charity go hand in hand. We can believe all we want, but it is meaningless without love.

10. Trust in Mary – When we begin to stumble, we should turn to the Mother of God, who was proclaimed “blessed because she believed” (Luke 1:45). She’ll help you to overcome your doubts and continue on your journey of faith.

This Year of Faith provides us with an excellent opportunity to learn, live and share our Catholic Faith. Let’s not pass up the chance. Jesus is holding the door open for us. Let’s be sure to enter in!

Mark Houck – Rallying Men For The Kingdom


 

As a full time Catholic Evangelist, I have the privilege of meeting and working with many people who share the “Good News” of Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church. Although they preach a common message, their styles often differ dramatically. I find that to be a good thing because different approaches are often needed. On a personal level, some of these folks inspire me more than others. As a result, I have a set of “go to” people who I turn to when I need to get “fired up” about my faith.

A few years ago, while still working as a computer programmer, I was driving home from the office and tuned into Holy Spirit Radio (a Catholic station based in the Philadelphia area). Fully expecting to listen to an EWTN program, I was surprised to hear a local show – The King’s Men. As I started to listen, I was drawn in by the sincerity and passion of the host, Mark Houck. As a man, it meant a lot to hear another male openly proclaim His love for Christ and the Catholic Church.

In the months that followed, I investigated Mark’s apostolate and continued to be inspired. I was especially excited when I discovered that Mark was scheduled to appear on EWTN’s Life On The Rock. I watched with admiration as Mark spoke about the need for men to embrace their faith and be witnesses to the world. He spoke about the King’s Men and their mission to combat the evil of pornography and abortion. He also explained the concept of authentic male spirituality, which was something that I needed to hear. After I finished watching the show, I told my wife that more men need to speak like this…I was energized!

As I got more involved in Catholic evangelization, I eventually was able to meet Mark. Since we both live in the Philadelphia area, I was invited to speak at a King’s Men meeting and I had the opportunity to witness the great work that these men were doing. I saw how Mark Houck and Damian Wargo (the co-founder of the King’s Men) encouraged and supported men who were struggling to live Christ-like lives. I listened as men shared their stories of struggling with pornography and the evils of the world, only to be comforted and strengthened by Mark and Damian. I left the meeting feeling inspired and confident.

When I made the decision to venture into the scary world of full time Catholic evangelization, Mark was one of the first people to volunteer his assistance. “Let me know whatever I can do for you, brother” (BTW, it’s not a coincidence that Mark calls every man he meets “brother”. He REALLY believes that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ!). After that initial offer, he continued to reach out to me and my apostolate. He had me as a guest on his radio show and even allowed me to guest host the program while he was on vacation. Unlike some people in the public eye who disappoint you once you get to know them, the private Mark Houck is every bit as passionate and caring as the public persona. He is “the real deal”!

If you ever have the opportunity to listen to Mark Houck speak…do it! If you are looking for a speaker to fire up the men in your parish or conference, Mark is your man. He will encourage you, he will inspire you and, most of all, he will help you to do what all Christians are called to do…become imitators of Jesus Christ!

(This post was written as part of Support a Catholic Speaker Month 2012)

Attention Catholics…It’s Time To Get Serious About Evangelization!


 

“The task of preaching, teaching, growing and living the Catholic faith in our time, in this country, belongs to you and me. No one else can do it.” (Archbishop Charles Chaput at the Los Angeles Catholic Prayer Breakfast, Sept. 18,2012)

On October 11, 2012 we officially begin the celebration of the Year of Faith, as promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei. The Holy Father has declared that the Year of Faith is “a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Saviour of the world”. His hope is that this commemoration will “arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope.” If you’re Catholic, there’s a good chance that the Holy Father’s words about professing the faith will make you a little uncomfortable. Why?

Catholics are known for many things, such as novenas, devotions to saints, love for the Blessed Mother, and abstaining from meat on Lenten Fridays. One thing that generally doesn’t come to mind when we hear the word “Catholic” is evangelization. To be totally honest, the vast majority of Catholics view evangelization as a negative thing. There is a belief among many Catholics that our relationship with God is a highly personal matter and that “we shouldn’t impose our religious beliefs on others”. I must admit that I felt this way for many years. Even though I went to Mass every Sunday, talking about God to others was something for Protestants and “Jesus Freaks”. I considered it offensive to tell others how they should believe. Furthermore, I didn’t want others to think I was strange. Evangelization is “not something that Catholics do”. To take it a step further, many Catholics don’t feel the need to learn or understand their faith, let alone share it with others. While that may be a common opinion, is it really what the Church teaches? Not at all! As Catholics, we are not only called to study and understand our faith, but we are mandated to evangelize.

Now that I’ve either piqued your curiosity or caused you to suffer a panic attack, let me present some evidence to support my claim and give you some simple and painless ways to fulfill the Church’s instructions. On December 8, 1975, Pope Paul VI issued an Apostolic Exhortation entitled Evangelii Nuntiandi (EN), which addresses evangelization in the modern world. In this document, the Holy Father explains the importance of Christian evangelization:

…the presentation of the Gospel message is not an optional contribution for the Church. It is the duty incumbent on her by the command of the Lord Jesus, so that people can believe and be saved. This message is indeed necessary. It is unique. It cannot be replaced. It does not permit either indifference, syncretism or accommodation. It is a question of people’s salvation. (EN, Paragraph 5)

The above paragraph spells out the importance of proclaiming the “Good News” of Jesus Christ. It is not something that is “nice to have”, but is necessary for people’s salvation! That’s all well and good, but isn’t evangelization the job of priests, religious and deacons? Not exactly…

Thus it is the whole Church that receives the mission to evangelize, and the work of each individual member is important for the whole. (EN, Paragraph 15)

In other words, evangelization is not only the responsibility of the religious and clergy; it is a requirement for the laity as well. Every member of the Catholic Church is personally responsible for sharing the gospel message with others. The Vatican II document, Lumen Gentium, teaches that all baptized Christians “must profess before men the faith they have received from God through the Church and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God”. This profession of faith involves both actions and words. While it is crucial to set a good example, the Church teaches that we must also share our faith verbally.

…even the finest witness will prove ineffective in the long run if it is not explained, justified – what Peter called always having “your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have” – and made explicit by a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the Lord Jesus. The Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life. There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed. (EN, Paragraph 22)

Now that we know what is expected of us, do we need to stand on street corners and hand out Bibles? Are we required to preach at the office and quote scripture all day long? While there is a time and a place for that approach, there are simpler and less threatening ways to “get our feet wet” in the world of Catholic evangelization. Here are some simple ways to get started:

1. Learn – We need to learn about the Catholic Faith. There is no way that we’ll ever be able to share what we don’t know. There are many great online resources to assist you in learning about the Catholic Faith. Among them are the USCCB and Vatican websites. Additionally, my Recommended Resouces page lists many authentically Catholic websites and books, all geared toward individuals with a basic or intermediate understanding of the Faith.

2. Witness – Christian witness lays the foundation for evangelization. Avoiding foul language, making the sign of the cross and saying grace before meals, having a positive disposition, and avoiding gossip are all ways that can be used to set a positive example for others. These techniques can be used anywhere: in the workplace, at school, in the home, even at the grocery store. People may notice that there is something “different” about us and could begin to ask questions. This provides the opening to share our “secret”, which is the Catholic Faith.

3. Share – There are many painless (but effective) ways to verbally share our faith with others. We can offer to say a prayer for a coworker who is sick or in a painful situation. We can explain how our faith comforts or sustains us in time of need. We can casually relate a message heard in a homily at Sunday Mass. This technique not only gives us the opportunity to share a positive thought, but it also sends the message that we attend Sunday Mass. Non-threatening techniques such as these are often very effective because they do not involve “beating people over the head” with our Bibles.

4. Pray – The most important step in being an effective evangelist is often the most neglected. We should always remember to pray, especially for an increase in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Everyone who is baptized and confirmed has received the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but we need prayer and grace to help them grow. Prayer and frequent reception of the Sacraments will allow these gifts to grow and will ultimately lead to greater success of our efforts. We should also pray for the individuals to whom we are evangelizing.

As we begin to follow the Church’s command to spread the gospel in the world, there are a few things that are important to remember. We should not become impatient or discouraged if our efforts don’t appear to be effective. The Lord never asks us to be successful, instead He asks us to be faithful. In the end, any success we have should be attributed to God alone. Also, we must never forget to be charitable when sharing God’s message with others. Our goal must be to win souls, not arguments. Turning to Sacred Scripture, St. Peter provides an excellent one sentence summary of what is expected of us as Catholic evangelists. Staying faithful to his instruction will ensure that we are fulfilling the Lord’s command of charitably spreading the gospel to all nations:

“Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Peter 3:15)

Vote For Your Favorite Catholic Speaker!


 

Gary Zimak - Catholic Speaker

Beginning tomorrow (August 16), you’ll be able to vote for your favorite Catholic speakers at Brandon Vogt’s website. I’m honored to be included on the ballot and ask that you’d kindly consider voting for me if you enjoy my radio work or live talks. All you have to do is visit the following link and vote:

http://brandonvogt.com/scsmvoting/

Your votes will be used to create a Top 100 Catholic Speakers list. Appearing on this list would help me to spread the “Good News” to a even larger audience which would be FANTASTIC!!!

Thanks for you support and please share this post with others.

God Bless,
Gary

5 Accusations Every Catholic Should Hear (At Least Once)!

 

Generally, when we deliver good news, we receive a positive response. Hearing something good usually makes people happy. Since the message of Jesus Christ is referred to as the “Good News”, it’s logical that sharing that message will result in the same joyful reaction…NOT! Those of us who try to share Christ’s message know all too well that we are often met with anger and resistance.

In reality, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The words of Jesus in the Bible are very clear:

“You will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22)

“If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of His household” (Matthew 10:25)

“But take heed to yourselves; for they will deliver you up to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony to them.” (Mark13:9)

When it comes to evangelization, rejection is nothing new. The prophets, Saints and even Jesus all experienced their fair share of rejection. The important lesson for us is to remember that just because someone doesn’t want to hear the truth doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t deliver it. When commissioning the Apostles, Jesus instructed them to “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.” (Matthew 28:19-20) The Church extends this mission to all baptized Catholics and, like the Apostles, we are called to share the FULL truth, not just the “fun stuff” with those around us.

As you might imagine, I’ve heard my share of insults and accusations. Over the years, I have noticed a pattern and here is a list of the 5 most common charges that I’ve heard. If you share your faith regularly, there’s a good chance you’ll be hearing some of these as well. To help you prepare, I’ve come up responses that will help you to counter the attack:

1. Judge Not And You Will Not Be Judged (Luke 6:37) – Although it’s used frequently, this one doesn’t stand up to the logic test. Think about it for a minute – if you’re telling me that we shouldn’t make moral judgments on someone’s behavior, how can you accuse me of being judgmental? Aren’t you judging me? Obviously, this isn’t what Jesus meant when He made this statement. Looking at His words in context gives us a clearer picture of the true meaning. Just prior to this statement, the Lord stressed the need for us to be merciful to others, as the Father is merciful to us (Luke 6:32-36). If pointing out someone’s sinful behavior in order to save them from potential damnation isn’t merciful, I don’t know what is! He then tells a parable about the “blind leading the blind” and cautions against attempting to remove the speck from our brother’s eye before removing the plank from our own (Luke 6:39-42). In other words, don’t try to point out your brother’s minor faults before correcting your own major defects. Note that Jesus doesn’t say “do not correct your brother”, but says instead “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:42)

2. Let He Who Is Without Sin Cast The First Stone (John 8:7) – A rough translation of this accusation (according to those who use it) is “if you’re a sinner too, you can’t comment on my behavior”. Is Jesus telling us that we can never point out someone’s wrongdoing as long as we have sins? Not at all! In fact he recommends “if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” (Matthew 18:15). Given that, what does Jesus mean when he talks about casting the first stone? Once again, let’s look at the facts. The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus, not for a legitimate reason, but rather to “test Him that they might have some charge to bring against Him”. (John 8:6) By looking at St. John’s words, we see that these individuals weren’t looking for justice, but rather for a way to trap Jesus! By responding with the familiar line “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7), Christ stopped them in their tracks and highlighted their hypocritical behavior. Finally, proving it really is acceptable to lovingly urge someone to stay out of trouble, the Lord’s parting words to the woman were “do not sin again”. (John 8:11)

3. What Right Do You Have To Tell Me That? – Usually paired with “you’re not a priest” or “I’m Catholic too and I don’t see anything wrong with it”, this statement focuses on the messenger and not the message. People don’t like to be told that their behavior is sinful, especially when they’re having a lot of fun. Catholics REALLY hate this because for many years they’ve gotten used to leaving their faith in Church and don’t expect to be challenged by one of their peers. It’s not as bad when it comes from a priest or deacon, because “it’s their job to say things like that”. In reality, every baptized Catholic is called to share in the prophetic ministry of Christ. This requires us to preach a message of repentance at times. Two of the spiritual works of mercy are “admonish the sinner” and “instruct the ignorant”. Note that there is no disclaimer stating that these works of mercy are only to be exercised by priests and religious. If we see someone (especially a close friend or family member) doing something seriously wrong, it is our duty to charitably let them know. If they were unaware that it’s wrong, then we are “instructing the ignorant”. If they are aware, then we are “admonishing the sinner”. If we don’t say anything, we could be held accountable. In any of these cases, we just might be saving a soul!

4. Don’t Try To Force Your Beliefs On Me! – Taken at face value, the Church would agree with this statement. The Vatican II document Dignitatus Humanae states that “It is one of the major tenets of Catholic doctrine that man’s response to God in faith must be free: no one therefore is to be forced to embrace the Christian faith against his own will.” The problem with this accusation, however, is that it usually doesn’t mean that one is being forced to believe in something against their will. It really means “I don’t want to hear what the Church has to say”. While we certainly shouldn’t “force” our beliefs on others, we shouldn’t remain silent either. In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul is very clear about the need for evangelization:

But how are men to call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)

For too long, Catholics have been apathetic about evangelization. We have gotten used to not venturing out of our comfort zones. If we believe (as we should) that the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of truth, then we should be anxious to share the truth with others.

5. The Catholic Church Is Corrupt – Unlike the previous four accusations (which are personal attacks), this one shifts the focus to the Church and uses a broad brush approach to discredit any and all of her teachings. Although easy to refute, this accusation needs to be treated with much sensitivity. Generally this charge refers to the clergy abuse scandal which has shaken the faith of many Catholics. Pointing out the small number of priests involved doesn’t usually diffuse the argument, as the very idea of coverups and disgraceful behavior by men of God and those in authority is repulsive. The key to responding to this accusation can actually be found in the Bible. The first thing to remember is that the Church was founded by Christ and will not be “going away” (Matthew 16:18). Secondly, Jesus chose twelve Apostles as the leaders of His Church. Our bishops are the successors of these Apostles. Two of the twelve betrayed the Lord (Peter and Judas) and all but one (John) deserted Him at the crucifixion. Since He was God, Jesus knew in advance what these men would do and He chose them anyway. As a result, we can see an example of less then desirable behavior among the earliest priests and leaders of the Church. The Church on earth is made up of sinners, but that doesn’t take away the fact that she was founded by Our Lord as the vehicle necessary for our salvation. Never discount the Lord’s ability to “write straight with crooked lines”.

If you’ve been accused of any these things – Congratulations! You’re probably doing a good job of spreading the Gospel. If you haven’t heard them, keep spreading the “Good News” and you will. Although we’re called to be charitable, we’re also called to help advance God’s Kingdom by sharing the truth. Don’t become frustrated when people attack you for doing so. Just be patient, keep planting seeds and let God take it from there!

What do you think? Did I miss any accusations? Which ones have you heard and how did you respond? Let me know!

“If you’re not a thorn in somebody’s side, you’re not doing Christianity right.” (Mother Angelica)

The Pros And Cons Of Social Media Evangelization

 

This morning, I heard something neat on the radio. Catholic writer Pat Gohn was discussing her article Tithing On Social Media. Her suggestion was that we give God 10 percent of our status updates or tweets every time we use social media. That’s a great idea, isn’t it?

Pat’s suggestion got me to thinking about just how many people are afraid to share their faith on Facebook or Twitter. We’ll share music videos, pictures of our lunch (I have to admit that I enjoy looking at these!), we’ll gripe about the weather, comment on our favorite sports teams, but are often afraid to share anything about our faith. Originally, I had the same fear, but praying for an increase in the gift of fortitude has helped a lot! Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of using social media to evangelize.

CONS

1. People will think you’re strange – I can’t argue with this one, but many people thought that the prophets, the saints and even Jesus were all strange. If someone wants to consider me strange because I love the Lord and hope to live with Him forever in Heaven, I’m OK with that. No matter what we say or do in life, someone will think we’re strange. Depending on who that someone is, it may be a good thing!

2. You might lose a friend – It happens, but it’s better to get “unfriended” or lose a follower for speaking the truth than to retain the friend by failing to speak the truth. When we pray the Confiteor, we ask forgiveness not only for what we’ve done, but for what we’ve failed to do. Losing a friend for doing the right thing is not the end of the world.

3. You’ll be accused of being a “hater” – Speaking out against gay “marriage”, government attacks on religious freedom or abortion is going to offend some people. You’ll often be accused of suppressing civil rights, not caring about the poor, interfering with a woman’s right to choose or any number of unfair charges. Ignore it…they’re wrong! If you’re upholding the Church’s teaching on these issues, you’re in good company and can safely disregard any negative feedback.

PROS

1. You are following the Church’s call to evangelize – Jesus instructed the Apostles to “make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). The Church has extended that command to all baptized Catholics. If you use social media to post or tweet the “Good News”, you’re listening to Jesus. Good job!

2. You’re standing up for Jesus – The Lord stated that “every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in Heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). Come judgment day, I want the Lord’s support. Therefore, I’m going to follow His advice and acknowledge Him before men by posting inspirational updates.

3. You may save a soul – One of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to “instruct the ignorant”. I’ve learned a lot about the Catholic Faith by reading social media updates. There have been times when a Bible verse or reminder about Church teaching has literally stopped me in my tracks. Jesus reminds us that “every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required” (Luke 12:48). If we know and understand the teachings of the Catholic Church, we have the responsibility to share them with others. Did you ever read or hear something on Facebook or Twitter that made you realize you have to change your ways? I have. To be blunt, your status update can save someone from going to hell. Don’t underestimate the power of your words.

Many Catholics panic when they hear the word “evangelization” and feel that it’s “not something we do”. While that is often true, sharing the “Good News” of the Catholic Faith is something that we should be doing. After all, God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). The Catholic Church has the fullness of truth and it’s up to us to share that truth with others. Social media provides an easy way to do it very effectively.

What is your experience with using social media to evangelize? What suggestions do you have? What are your concerns? Let me know!