In the podcast episode of Catholic Answers Live that I heard today, a man called up asking out of curiosity if it was Catholic practice to evangelize at all. He framed his question by talking about his experience growing up in a Catholic community where nobody ever invited him to consider Catholicism or (apparently) any Catholic event where he might hear about the Catholic faith.
That says it all, doesn't it? And yet we do know (perhaps vaguely) that Pope John Paul II does mention the "new evangelization" many times in his pontificate (start here). When you think about it, we are told after each Mass to "go to love and serve the Lord", and of course, we all know what the Lord said about evangelization.
Er.. that's awkward. That I have to say "when you think about it" means that it isn't quite so obvious. Jimmy Akin's reply to that question above was that evangelization has not been emphasized much in the Catholic Church in America, but it seems to be preached actively in parts of Africa. I don't remember many exhortations to evangelize during homilies when I was growing up in the Philippines. I don't hear them so much here in Melbourne either. Perhaps it's assumed to be a well-known exhortation to all Catholics anyway? Perhaps there is this expectation that Catholic schools will "take care of that sort of thing"? Hmm.. on second thought, schools will probably worry about political correctness, tolerance, plurality, inclusiveness, etc. What about parents? Hey! I'm a parent! What about me? When am I going to get off my bum and teach my children to evangelize?
Hmm.. I'll probably need to read this. And Redemptoris Missio. And this from Pope Benedict XVI. And Evangelii Nuntiandi. and .. Maybe there's a reason why this hasn't taken off so easy. BUT we have to start somewhere. Right. My kids!