The Evangelizing We Need

In a conversation a few weeks ago, a friend observed that people have been leaving parishes (and, by extension, the Church) because they’re not being evangelized.

I was all in with that sentiment until it became clear that by “evangelized” she meant “told what they want to hear” and “affirmed in what they’re doing, even if it’s not what the Church asks of us.”

Actually, I think that if that’s the definition of “evangelization” we’re seeing too much of it, not too little.

If all evangelization does is affirm what we are doing, it’s a failure.

Evangelization is meant to call us to be better. It’s going to involve telling us things we don’t want to hear and calling us on our bad behavior.

As Elizabeth Scalia observes in Little Sins Mean a Lot,

If we were naturally good, we would not have needed God to go to the trouble of spelling out to Moses that, no, we cant just abandon our parents when they get old and feeble; we can’t just take what we want; we can’t kill whom we please and have indiscriminate sex all day long. As obvious as those prohibitions sound to us now, we need to be told not to do those things–because otherwise we would.
. . . if we are going to try to become really good persons, we need to identify and then detach from the faults and sins that we so readily give into, and thus keep us always playing defense. (18-19)

little sins mean a lot

About a decade ago, we had a pastor at our parish who worked hard to evangelize us. I wish I’d kept the church bulletins from that era, because he wrote a weekly column that was a real spiritual challenge.

He didn’t last long at our parish. People were vocal in their opposition to him. I suspect that what they really didn’t like was the spiritual challenge. Nobody likes hearing that they’re not on the right track. But everybody needs to hear that–or they won’t grow at all.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. (James 1:5)

It won’t necessarily be what we want to hear, but surely it will be what we need to hear.

"The Evangelizing We Need" by Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS @franciscanmom
Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz @franciscanmom All rights reserved

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS

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Eat, Drink and Evangelize: A Book Review and a Recipe

catholic drinkie bookIn just one book, you’ll get Church history, Gospel stories, patron saints, prayers, quotes from G.K. Chesterton, social-media advice and recipes for beer. Sarah Vabulas has managed to blend all of this–and more–together to create The Catholic Drinkie’s Guide to Homebrewed Evangelism. And she puts it together in an entertaining manner, with plenty of good humor and common-sense advice.

I definitely get where Sarah is coming from in section 3 of this book (Responsibly and Successfully Building Community.) My own love language is food. I love to cook and bake for people. But while I love recipes, I love her message about evangelization even more (and I think a lot of it applies to food as well as what Jeopardy refers to as “potent potables”).

Sarah is honest and real about the pitfalls of social-media use and all-the-time evangelization that isn’t backed up enough by personal prayer. As an introvert, I am in awe of her ability to

“go out to dinner and strike up a conversation with a neighboring patron, acknowledging his dignity and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide my words and actions. This is the call of the New Evangelization. This is how we say ‘yes’ to the Lord in our everyday lives.” (p. 99)

Sarah describes her hobby of homebrewing beer as another way to build community. It can be a group process, which makes the job more fun–and she also finds opportunities to share her faith with her friends during the process. It’s also an opportunity to make gifts for others, sharing one’s own talents and interests while paying attention to what our loved ones enjoy so that we can craft the perfect gift.

spent grain 2 cRegarding the section of the book that includes recipes for homebrewed beer, I do┬ádisagree with Sarah’s assertion that you can’t brew 5-gallon batches of beer in an apartment. My older son does this–and he’s the reason I had a container of dried spent grain at the ready to experiment with bread recipes. Spent grain is a by-product of the beer-brewing process, and frugal brewers have discovered that you can use it in cooking. My own experiments in baking with spent grain affirm what I’ve read online–you can’t make the spent grain much more than 10% of your recipe’s total grain content.

Brewing beer actually has quite a bit in common with baking bread, and not just because both of them involve yeast and grain. They also both involve what Sarah refers to as “hurry-up-and-wait activity,” but when you brew beer, you have to wait a couple of weeks to sample your finished product!

spent grain bread (5) CM FII created this recipe for spent-grain bread as an homage to Sarah’s work. If she lived closer, I’d share a loaf with her. There’s a reason many of my bread recipes make 2 loaves: one for the family, one to share!

Spent-Grain Bread

makes 2 loaves

1 3/4 cups warm water
2 TBL butter
3 TBL honey
2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup dried spent grain
1 TBL active dry yeast

Add all ingredients to your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Use the dough cycle. When cycle is complete, remove dough to a floured surface. Divide in half and shape into loaves. Place loaves in prepared bread pans. Cut 2 or 3 diagonal slashes in the top of each loaf. Allow to rise 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 and bake 35 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

spent grain bread (6)c

Order your copy of The Catholic Drinkie’s Guide to Homebrewed Evangelism using my affiliate link and you’ll support my reading and cooking habit with your purchase–but you pay nothing extra!