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Evangelization in the Work Place Print E-mail
By Fr. C. John McCloskey   
Friday, 16 May 2014

The very title of this column may scare you off, but bear with me and you may find the topic less daunting than you fear.

God has brought us into this world to prepare us all for everlasting joy with him in Heaven. This eternity of bliss, however, is intended not just for you or me, but for as many as possible. So a large part of our mission here on earth is to share our faith with family, friends, and all those put in our path on the road to everlasting glory. And that includes those outside the home that we may spend much of our waking hours with, those in the workplace.

Work is a good in itself – and not simply (though importantly) a means of making money to support a family. St. John Paul II wrote in 1981: “Man was called to work even before original sin. Man is the image of God partly through the mandate received by the Creator to subdue. To dominate the earth. . .in other words man’s work is in some way a part in God’s creative power!”

We then are co-creators. This is both a privilege and a serious duty. The pope also discusses human work as a way of growing in holiness that prepares us for eternal happiness. After all, Our Lord constantly refers to workers in his preaching, and his greatest apostle was Paul, a tentmaker. You can be sure that St. Paul united his work with prayer so that it would not only contribute to earthly progress, but also extend the Kingdom of God.

This brings us to the second part of God’s plan for work that was highlighted by St. John Paul II in his encyclical on work, Laborem Exercens: that work becomes a place and means of sharing one’s faith not only by example, but also by words based on developing friendship in the context of the workplace.

Now our current pope (and Time magazine Man of the Year) Pope Francis has stressed from the opening days of his pontificate the importance of personal one-to-one, no-holds-barred, 24/7 evangelization, modeling in his own interactions with others how we as Christians should always be ready, as our first pope St. Peter put it, “to give an account of the hope that is in you.”

          Pope St. John Paul II and Cardinal Bergoglio (Pope Francis): co-workers for Christ

In his first Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium “The Joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis writes:

Today, as the Church seeks to experience a profound missionary renewal there is a kind of preaching which falls to each of us as a daily responsibility. It has to do with bringing the Gospel to the people we meet, whether they are our neighbors or complete strangers. This is the informal preaching that takes place in the middle of a conversation, something like what a missionary does when visiting a home.  Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others and this can happen unexpectedly anyplace: on the street in a city, or during work or in a city square or on a journey.

In this preaching, which is always gentle, the first step is personal dialogue, when the other person speaks and shares his or her joys, hopes, and concerns for loved ones, or so many other heartfelt needs. Only afterwards is it possible to bring up God’s word, perhaps by reading a Bible verse or relating a story, but always keeping in mind the fundamental message: the personal love of God who became man, who gave himself up for us, who is living and who offers us his salvation and his friendship. This message has to be shared humbly as a testimony on the part of one who is always willing to learn, in the awareness that the message is so rich and so deep that it always exceeds our grasp.

So what can you do in your work to bring others to the Lord and his Church? Well, virtually all of you work if you are under 65 or so. You may work at home, from home, or at the office; you may be outside, in a government building, or in one of thousands of other settings. In any case, almost everyone comes in contact with people, whether few or many. Each has an immortal soul, and each one is either in a state of grace or in a state of mortal sin, ready for an eternity in heaven or hell.

What are you going to do with them as you encounter them throughout the day?

Here are some ideas of how to be a bearer of Christ to them: 

  • Be an example of a hard worker;
  • Over time and in a natural way, become their friend, let them know they can rely on you always, and reciprocate by confiding in them when you have troubles (as we all do);
  • Be joyful and fun to be with;
  • Talk to them about your family;
  • Talk to them about your faith;
  • Ask them about theirs; 
  • Pray for them; 
  • Visit them when they are ill or down, when they’ve lost a job or a loved one; 
  • Ask them if they have ever thought of being Catholic. Would they like to know more?
  • Invite them to noon or Sunday Mass;
  • Tell them about the love of Mary our mother.

And in addition, pray for and imitate our pope, cultivate crazy love for the Lord as he does, share that love with your fellow workers, and God will reap a harvest of souls through you.

Fr. C. John McCloskey is a Church historian and Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington DC. 
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Comments (18)Add Comment
written by RP, May 16, 2014
I've determined to follow Pope Francis' example in evangelization of my co-workers. To the divorced and re-married I say, "Well, half of marriages were invalid anyway. Yours was probably one of them. Be simple, live joyfully. That is where the Spirit is. Of course you can receive Communion. The Church is more pastoral now."

To those who have had abortions or use birth control pills I say, "Don't pay attention to those intellectual rigorists who know nothing but rules and laws but don't have the Holy Spirit in their hearts. Follow your heart; live simply and joyfully. That is where the Spirit is."

To the large group of atheists at work I say, "Atheists are good people, too. Follow your heart. Anyone seeking truth is seeking Christ. Live joyfully and simply. That is where the Holy Spirit is leading you."

And you know Father? this new evangelization works wonderfully. It's as if we are all Catholic now, each in our own way. All united in the one Spirit, all in step going forward to make this a wonderful world to live in.
written by Carlos Caso-Rosendi, May 16, 2014
What is the workplace? The welfare office?

I heard the Pope say the other day that the State has to create jobs or something... Now I am quite relieved! The State is in charge. What could go wrong!
written by Richard A, May 16, 2014
Thanks, RP, that was a big help.
written by Manfred, May 16, 2014
And when the co-worker, who is quite capable, shows me a picture of Michael Sam full-mouth kissing his lover, Vito C., and asks "Isn't this the guy YOUR Cardinal Archbishop of New York urged on with 'Bravo; and other words of support?", what is my riposte to that, Father?

No, I am going back and reading Robert Bellarmine's work where he states that a manifest heretic cannot serve as Pope.
written by RP, May 16, 2014
Richard A,

Don't let me mislead you. Fr. McCloskey's article is sound advice (he's had a lot of practice with this sort of thing) except where he says we should follow the Pope's example. Anything but.

If the Holy Spirit had a hand in the election of this Pope it was to prevent the election of someone else who may have been far worse.
written by AprilSpring, May 16, 2014
This is how I evangelize:

Why did Jesus commanded us to 'eat' and 'drink' His Body and Blood? Aren't you curious?

Here's a riddle just for you:

A Riddle, A Riddle, Now Riddle Me This -

Only God can give everlasting life, for no man can give everlasting life. Therefore, only God can bear the fruit of the Tree of Life.

Yet, Who is the Just Man that can bear the fruit of the Tree of Life?

For a prophecy in the form of a riddle was written:

“The fruit of the JUST MAN is a tree of life: and he that gaineth souls, is wise.”- Proverbs 11:30

“He will search out the hidden meanings of PROVERBS, and will be conversant in the secrets of parables.” - Sirach 39:3

Come read the explosive interpretation:

written by Augustine Thomas, May 16, 2014
Tell Bergoglio to start showing some workplace camaraderie to the FFI.
written by Carlos Caso-Rosendi, May 16, 2014
Certainly any evangelization effort by Catholics must include some kind of explanation for all the weird and scandalous stuff happening in the Church these days. It does not matter if we have the truth: people do not believe in scoundrels and perverts. If you don't clean house you won't be believed and then YOU are selling souls out to the enemy. See the situation of your brother priest, Fr. Gordon MacRae, twenty years in prison after a kangaroo trial. Have you been there to visit him? But he is there because some creeps --a huge number of them-- were tolerated over decades of corrupted behavior.

Sincerely, I believe today that in the US and many other countries, many priests are an impediment to the spreading of the Gospel. May God have mercy on their souls.

written by keithp, May 16, 2014
Fr- I've done many of those you've recommended in your bulleted items. I've especially made an effort with those Catholics who have left their faith behind them. It is stony ground to work, Father, but not impossible. I try to be the most effective witness I can be. My co-workers know I am a Catholic because I have small St Joseph statue, several holy cards and a wonderful icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

I am disappointed at the response here directed at the Holy Father and our Shepherds. I've been equally disappointed in our Shepherds. But, the most effective evanglist is the one who is the most effective witness in their daily lives.
written by DeGaulle, May 16, 2014
Pope Francis has received a lot of criticism in some of the comments. Certainly, some of the Pope's statements have been confusing. I would say the following in his defense:

i). He has a history of operating under a brutal dictatorship, where lives may have depended on words being carefully used, even coded.
ii). He has been strongly influenced by the philosopher Alberto Methol Ferré, who coined the term 'libertine atheism' in 1979 to describe the state of the world we live in. Ferré was of the view that it was useless trying to debate with this atheism as its advocates refuse to listen and also pointless appealing to Authority as they recognize none. He thought that one's only hope might be to draw them in by example. As David Warren expressed it recently here, 'Do as I do', rather than 'Do as I say'.
iii). Pope Francis has apparently been profoundly influenced by Fr. Robert Hugh Benson's apocalyptic novel 'Lord Of The World'. If this is any reflection on his world-view one could not be in any doubt about Pope Francis' sense of urgency about the state of affairs we are in.

To conclude, I am hoping this upcoming synod on the Family will see us all pleasantly surprised.
written by Manfred, May 16, 2014
I would remind Father that he was the chaplain in an Opus Dei residence at Princeton some years ago where he attempted to evangelize Catholic students by Evenings of Recollection and "coffees". Perhaps Father will share with us his success rate there.
written by Carlos Caso-Rosendi, May 16, 2014
I will never forget my first visit to a catholic church in Charlottesville VA where I went seeking to be received in the Church. The priest began by talking to me about the oppressed Mexican immigrants and other Hispanics. He talked at length about it and how eveil the INS was. Not one word about Jesus, Mary, the saints, martyrs, doctors of the Church ... nothing. Just the usual Progressive drivel.

Soon after God took me to London, England where I was received in the Church on Ascension Day 2001 right there at the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Since those days I experienced the harshest rejection and persecution INSIDE the Church. Like the day I gave a talk to a 1000 member Spanish-speaking parish. I could see the horror in the face of the priest when I started answering questions about contraception and abortion in the most orthodox manner. After that he took me aside and bid me not to ever return. He complained about women confessing tube ligation, contraceptives, and such. As a result of that I was banned from the airwaves (ha!) and never received any invitations to talk anywhere.

Well, I have a message for you cafeteria priests, homo-priests, etc. We the converts are like the locust that the Lord sent over the rebellious Israel. Your sky will turn to iron and your soil to copper. We are not going away. We will bury the progressive church of nice and there will be no mention of her ever. The blows the Church received from you in the 60's will be a distant memory soon. I hope some of you live long enough to see the conversion of Islam and the Jews. The power of God Almighty will do that by using those who were dead as stones until yesterday. You "keep quiet," we "the stones will cry out."
written by Ukraine Fatima, May 17, 2014

I will do NOTHING to bring people to a corrupt clerical church and an idiot anti-Fatima pope. The People of God are NOT your, or any clerics, stooges. Tell Bergoglio and the masonic and homo bishops to do the following:

1]Stop all annulments and abolish annulments from
canon law. They are all adulterous.

2]Consecrate Russia to the Immaculata by name in public and apologises to the Assembly of the People of God -(the Church) for almost 90 - ninety year delay and lies and disobedience to the Mother of God.

3]Accept and recognise the indissolubility of ALL marriage between one man and one woman - not just christian marriage ... so abolish all disgusting pauline priviledges.

4]paint over the filthty homoerotic porn of the sistine chapel.

5]Execute the thousands of paedo priests and bishops by the law of vatican City state.

6]Excommunicate the approx. 1600 bishops who are freemasons and practising sodomites.

7]Stop canonising popes who obstructed the Consecration of Russia and allowed the mass rape of children.

8]Stop writng boring encyclicals that are not infallible anyway.

9]Allow laypeople to give homilies instead of moronic and arrogant clerics.

10]Recognise chosen lay virginity and celibacy as higher than marriage.

11]Otherwise, McCloskey and bergoglio - shut up - becuase I am turning over to the soccer and basketball.
written by Bill Hocter, May 17, 2014
Wow. Did I miss something?
written by James , May 18, 2014
Thank you Father, for such great words of Wisdom! I will think of this article, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide me!
Take care, and GOD BLESS!
written by Doug, May 19, 2014
"personal one-to-one, no-holds-barred, 24/7 evangelization, modeling in his own interactions with others how we as Christians should always be ready, as our first pope St. Peter put it, “to give an account of the hope that is in you.”"
Do you mean the way we Jehovah's Witnesses do it? But we start and end with the Bible. In my experience that will not suit many of your laypeople.
written by Sam Schmitt, May 19, 2014
Just a reminder to RP and friends:
You need to get your hands on a first-hand account of Pope Francis's work as archbishop of Buenos Aires (there are many good ones out there). You'll see he's the "real deal": 100% orthodox, anti-liberation theology, pro-life, and anything but socialist. He was a true father and friend to his priests. He's undertaken many initiatives for the poor and children in the shantytowns, including catechesis, and has spoken out boldly against the corrupt government and the culture. He carried on a dialogue with the head rabbi in the country, not to be trendy, but was very clear: "The value of dialogue is that it is possible to arrive at the truth of the gospel." He's an admirer of Benedict XVI and his teaching. You can't fake the person that he is.
In other words, don't buy into what the news media tell you about him, and don't let them interpret what he says! Read what he writes not as soundbites but in context, with a knowledge of where the pope is coming from and where he intends to go.
written by TIMOTHY, May 24, 2014

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