What I Believe “Real” Evangelization Looks Like

What I Believe “Real” Evangelization Looks Like

This morning, I did what I do a lot! The pest control dude came to my rectory to tackle my Asian Beetle problem. Dan … nice guy, 27 years old. I asked him where he lived. He described something within driving distance of here. Then I asked him where he went to church. He half-jokingly lowered his head and said he didn’t go anywhere. That’s when I lit up and described “this place”:

“Dan, you should check this place out … seriously. We have so many young people, like yourself. Most are young professionals, like yourself. Many of them are starting their families. Many of them weren’t going to church anywhere either, until they came here. What do I believe they found? A slice of heaven! Really, you should check this out. We do things “old school” here (which I believe a lot of young people are drawn to … it’s retro). Honestly, its like leaving the world for an hour, and spending that hour in heaven. But, it’s not just the Mass. The people here are just incredibly nice and easy to be with. When we hang out with each other after Mass, it’s like souls would be hanging out with each other in heaven. Just lots of love and laughter. Seriously, just give it a try … this Sunday at 9:15am. Okay?” (with a big smile on my face).


Dan replied, with a positive tone: “Thanks, Father, I really think I will.”

I do this everywhere I go … Kwik Trip, grocery store … everywhere! Why? Because I am completely confident that what we offer at St. Mary of Pine Bluff is exactly what souls are searching for.

I believe so many souls –  especially young people – are searching for “the answer.” They are looking everywhere, and coming up empty. And, I believe with all my heart, mind, soul and strength that the answer begins with walking through the door of “Fear of the Lord.” By that, I mean “Biblical Fear” … coming to that place where God is SO AWESOME that my life completely changes it’s focus off of myself and onto God … “I love You SO MUCH, God, that I fear ever disappointing You! I know now that I am your precious child, and all I want is for You to be proud of me!” That is biblical fear.

But, in order to get to this place of biblical “Fear of the Lord,” we need to encounter God in a place of awesome and sublime “transcendent beauty,” surrounded by souls who have already given-way to biblical “Fear of the Lord.” People need to see what this looks like in others. This Fear of the Lord, I believe, is the doorway into the Divine Life!! THIS is “the answer” they have been searching for!

And, this is why I firmly believe we will continue to spin our wheels with evangelization, until we do the hard work of restoring sublime reverence to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Young people, especially, want the “real deal.” They want authentic, sublime worship, not cheesy, kitschy, dramatized play-acting. And, they know the real deal when they see it.

Last weekend, another young man (late 20s?) came over to me while I was greeting people after Mass. He introduced himself and said he saw the mailer we sent out to the local neighborhoods, and he decided to check us out. He said he had been away from church his whole adult life. Then he said, “I’ve never seen anything like this.” Knowing what he meant, I smiled and said, “Yeah, it’s like being in heaven for an hour, isn’t it?” With that, he began to sob. I then said, “That’s grace coming on you, my friend. Welcome home.”

This encounter reminded me of this scene (below) from the 1944 movie, “Christmas Holiday.” Watch the actress encountering this sublime, transcendent worship. She beautifully portrays what happened to that young man here last weekend … grace came on her … she walked through the door of “Fear of the Lord.” Her life will never be the same. I don’t want to darken this article by laboring on about what modernism did to the Mass but, again, if we are truly serious about evangelization, we are spinning our wheels until our worship begins to help us mere mortals elevate our souls to the place where we encounter this sense of transcendence; where we walk through the doorway of “Fear of the Lord.”

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