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Evangelization and Pentecost

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In his pastoral letter to the faithful of the archdiocese, Cardinal SeŠn called us to live in Christ's spirit and carry out his work in our daily lives.

Sister Pat Boyle,
CSJ

In 2011, Cardinal SeŠn wrote a pastoral letter on evangelization entitled, "A New Pentecost: Inviting All To Follow Jesus." While written prior to initiating Disciples in Mission, this pastoral letter serves as a beautiful foundation on which our work of evangelization has been built. As we approach Pentecost, it seems like an appropriate time to reflect on some relevant excerpts from this pastoral letter that can both challenge us and inspire us in our living as disciples of Jesus Christ.

During these days between the Feast of the Ascension and Pentecost, the Scriptures give us a clear and encouraging picture of the transformation that took place in the lives of the disciples. It is that very transformation that we are being called to as disciples of Jesus Christ. The early disciples, through the power of the Holy Spirit, overcame their confusion and fears after Jesus' death and stepped out of their comfort zones to preach the good news of Jesus. It is through that same Holy Spirit that we need to turn to if we are to shed our fears and hesitation to become active missionary disciples of Christ. It is this very transformation to active discipleship that the collaboratives are hoping to inspire in their parishioners through their local pastoral plans and various small group initiatives.

In his pastoral letter to the faithful of the archdiocese, Cardinal SeŠn called us to live in Christ's spirit and carry out his work in our daily lives. He stated it this way: "We remember particularly how the disciples were gathered in fear and confusion as they hid in the Upper Room. At that moment, they lacked a sense of outward mission and purpose. Christ then sent the Holy Spirit to them and a great transformation occurred.

"The disciples were transformed. Courage replaced fear... Understanding replaced confusion, and they gained a deep sense of purpose: they realized their experience of Jesus' sacrificial death and resurrection was truly Good News and it needed to be shared. Their focus turned outward toward all those they were called to evangelize. They never returned to the Upper Room again!"

Now the task of evangelization is ours. It requires that we hand on the faith to our own families and that we become mentors in this way of life to a new generation of disciples -- to our children, and grandchildren and all our loved ones. This means simply sharing the Gospel, the Good News, through our words and deeds. Recall the words of St. Francis of Assisi to his friars, "preach always, and sometimes use words."

The primary instruction given to us by Jesus is to evangelize. "Go, therefore, and 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. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20) As disciples of Christ in this day and age, we need to be very aware of how to be evangelizers and take whatever opportunities come our way. "There are three ways to evangelize," Cardinal SeŠn writes. "We witness, which is the simple living of our faith through our good actions and virtuous deeds. We share our faith in an explicit way, typically by describing how God is working in our lives. We invite others to experience Christ's saving love by walking with us in our Catholic Church."

The early Christians were conscious of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit as the source of their holiness, gifts of grace, and apostolic zeal. We can evangelize because the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon us just as it was on the first disciples. Therefore, let us put aside our fears and hesitations and as Cardinal Sean urges, let us "pray to the Holy Spirit this Pentecost and ask for the wisdom to understand the particular gifts God has given you for building up the Church. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to recognize those people for whom God would like you to be the face of his Church."

To read the complete Pastoral Letter, "A New Pentecost: Inviting All To Follow Jesus" visit http://www.bostoncatholic.org/pentecostletter.aspx.

Sister Pat Boyle is associate director of the Archdiocese of Bostonís Office of Pastoral Planning.

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