by Cristofer Pereyra and Erin Monnin
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
This book focuses on evangelization. I am an evangelizer to the wonderful people I meet in the grocery line or in the elevator and really to everyone I meet. I convey a happiness of the joy of knowing Christ. The Church exists to evangelize. There is no other reason no other purpose for the church. And the Church is all of us. For too long now people have thought the Church’s mission is only a responsibility for bishops, priests and religious, or for “Church professionals” working in parishes and chanceries. But Jesus never said that His words are clear: 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 He addressed these words to every one of us with no exceptions; no matter what our state in life or our “rank” in the Church.
When the great pope St. John Paul II came to America in 1987, he said: ” he work of evangelization is not over, On earth it will never be over…The duty of carrying forward this work rests on the whole Church and on every member of the Church Again, that means every baptized Catholic, Everyone of us in the Church is called to evangelize, to be a missionary disciple, as our Holy Father Pope Francis likes to say.
In this moment in the Church’s history, we are living in the “hour of the laity.” Now more than ever, it is time for the lay men and lay women of the Church to burn with new desire to love Jesus and to bring His holiness and salvation to every person. At the dawn of the first evangelization, when Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared at Tepeyac as the bright star lighting the path to Jesus for all the Americas, she did not show herself to the bishop or the priests or even to the missionaries at the time. Instead, she entrusted herself to a lay person, St. Juan Diego. She gave him a mission: go and tell the bishop to build a church where all peoples could come to the encounter with the living God in Jesus Christ, and where they could know His love, His compassion and His salvation.
America is highly secularized now, and the sense of the sacred and transcendent is being lost. We are living in a time of dangerous confusion about the true meaning of human life and human freedom. But we know that this world will not be saved by politics or technology or by all our efforts to define our own concepts of existence, only Jesus. No other name under heaven. We need to bring our neighbors to a new personal encounter with Jesus Christ. This was St. John Paul II’s vision for the Church in America. This was the task Our Lady of Guadalupe entrusted to St. Juan Diego. This is our vocation now. We bring others to Jesus, not only through the words that we speak, but even more we share Jesus by the way we live. By our attitudes and actions, by the way we treat people, by the choices we make in the humble, ordinary things we do every day can save us, He is the way that leads to the truth about our lives, to the love and happiness that we all long for.
Imagine if every Catholic in America would bring just one person to an encounter with Christ. And what if each of these people would then bring one more person to Jesus? We could change America! We could change the world for Jesus! This is how we carry out the Church’s mission. Not with complicated programs or pastoral plans. Bit person to person, heart speaking to heart about the love of Jesus, about who He is and what He has done for us by shedding His blood on the Cross. In this fine book the authors offer an inspiring hopeful and practical vision for the new evangelization of our country. The authors hope the vision, resources and advice provided through this book can become a roadmap for the reader in the journey to become a Catholic leader for civil society. Remember, “you were not made worthless if it does not flow from our true identity as sons and daughters of God in Our Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s go forth and reclaim the world for Him!