By Melissa Novak
I used to think Mass was boring. I would go through the motions, recite the prayers, and sometimes zone out. I was in eighth grade at the time. I would start to pray, “God, please help me to be excited about my faith.” A few months later God answered my prayer through an invitation. A friend invited me to a teen Mass and youth ministry session that helped me to better connect with my faith and develop my personal relationship with Jesus.
An invitation was life changing for me, and I’m sure countless others have returned to the church or grown in their relationship with Jesus simply because they were invited by a friend or family member. I’m not saying that with one invitation your entire family will start attending church and automatically be on fire for God. Growing in faith takes time, but for many people it starts with an invitation.
Can you imagine what our world would be like if the Apostles had stayed locked in the upper room? If the Holy Spirit hadn’t given them the courage to go out and proclaim the Good News of Christ, the Catholic Church wouldn’t be here today.
Reflect on your own faith journey for a moment. How have you grown in your faith, felt God’s presence in prayer, or had a revelation because someone invited you to church, Bible Study or prayer? Think about the courage it took for that person to invite you. You might have said no to their invitation the first few times, but they didn’t give up. The Holy Spirit gave them courage and worked in your heart to accept their invitation.
“Growing in faith takes time, but for many people it starts with an invitation.”
In Psalm 96:2-3 it says, “Sing to the Lord, bless his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Tell his glory among the nations; among all peoples, his marvelous deeds.” Think about it: When you get a new car you want to show people because you are excited. When you take a great vacation, you might post pictures on social media or tell all your friends about your great experience. At the birth of your child, niece, or nephew, you tell everyone about the new addition to your family because it’s exciting!
It should be the same with our faith. Jesus died on a cross for us. God continually forgives us in the sacrament of confession. Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. Our God created the entire universe and loves each one of us unconditionally. This is exciting news! Actually, it’s amazingly awesome! How can we keep this news to ourselves?! In the Gospel, Jesus tells his Apostles to go out and make disciples of all nations, and St. Paul reminds us of that great commission and our responsibility to share the Good News throughout his epistles.
But what if you don’t know what to say? What if someone rejects your invitation? What if someone starts asking you about Church teachings? These are all valid questions. St. Paul Street Evangelization is an organization that will be hosting a workshop at St. Mary Mokena Parish to address those questions and more. From 9 am to 4 pm on February 24th, 2018, come learn about how to share your faith without coming across as preachy or pushy. The things you learn can be applied to sharing the faith with family members, co-workers, friends, even strangers!
Pope Francis said, “Jesus teaches us that the Good News, which he brings, is not reserved to one part of humanity; it is to be communicated to everyone.” I pray that the Holy Spirit gives you the courage to share your faith, gives you the right words to say so that you can meet people where they are at, and sets your heart ablaze with the love of the Lord, so much so that you cannot keep the goodness of God to yourself any longer.
Melissa Novak is the Director of Faith Formation at Saint Mary Parish in Mokena.