Make It Personal


Fifty years ago, prominent theologian Henri De Lubac and others like him, were at pains to caution us all about a certain “distancing” that was entering the life of many Catholics—a kind of depersonalization of the faith.


While in seminaries the focus was on studying the truths of the faith, the laity—who learned from the clergy—somehow came to understand that our relationship with the Divine got in the way of those same truths. And so, by and large, the emphasis on fostering a relationship between God and man was sidelined and replaced with studying God and the Faith.


In practice what this meant was that Jesus became regarded as a man of history—a great figure, a hero, the God-man perhaps—but someone stuck in the past all the same.


The Bible became just a piece of literature, something to be studied, to be pulled apart to suit our own opinions and beliefs, and to be trimmed of all that we didn’t appreciate or found too challenging.


The Bishop and the Pope were also fair game; their authority was regarded simply as an optional part of the Catholic “package.”


Perhaps though, no other area of the faith felt this depersonalization more strongly than the common piety surrounding our blessed Mother. Devotions of all kinds, those which not only endured in the piety of the common believer for almost two thousand years but even gave life to the dogmas concerning Mary, were quickly becoming a thing of the past.


It makes sense though.

Evangelization is powerful and effective when we remove the distance between God and man, not create a greater distance.

If we put the idea of a relationship before the relationship itself, then sadly that relationship rarely, if ever, takes form. But if Mary is our Mother, if that relationship is evident to me and I have an experience of it since the time of my childhood, then all of the truths of what that means can slowly unfold as I grow and reflect.


Unfortunately, it is only today that we are seeing the long-term effects of the distancing that began those fifty years ago. We have wrongly believed that studying the Faith—wholesome and important as that may be—will help us to evangelize and make others be receptive to our evangelization efforts. But it just doesn’t work that way.


Evangelization is powerful and effective when we remove the distance between God and man, not create a greater distance.


Evangelization works when we bridge the gap between a faith believed and a faith lived.


Evangelization is founded on relationships.


To put this another way, others should first be intrigued by how we live and with whom we share our lives before they are captivated by the reason behind it.


They should be brought into the experience of the Faith that you live, and learn in this way that they have a Mother in heaven and an advocate in the Holy Spirit. By living alongside you, they should come to discover that there is meaning behind all that happens—even in the most simple and everyday occurrence. And they would discover this not because they’ve successfully navigated the truths of the Faith that you have thrown their way, but because who you are and what you have done for them surpasses logic.


If we want to evangelize then we have to make it personal.


We should continue to study our faith, of course, but it is with our life, first and foremost, that the world ought to hear this message proclaimed: “Jesus is my personal friend, Lord, and Saviour!”


“And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” — Matthew 27:51


God wants us to know Him, to be in relationship with Him. Jesus brought that curtain down for us so that we could.


So today, bring that curtain down for someone else.


Bring them into your life and show them what it means to live in relationship with God.


Make it personal.




in Christ,


patrick

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