By Gia Myers
Learning a practical approach to evangelization was the topic of the “Men’s Morning Reflection” Sept. 23 at St. Mary, Hamburg. Seventy-four men attended “Casting the Net – The Evangelization of Men by Men,” hosted by the Diocese of Allentown’s Commission for Men.
The event welcomed home Monsignor Andrew Baker as the keynote speaker. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Allentown in 1991 and now serves as Rector at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md.
Pointing to Luke 5:1, Monsignor Baker said that Jesus also had to “cast the net to bring His disciples to Him.”
He talked about the great importance of evangelizing the people in our lives, and three important questions that can help them get started.
First, “What does the sea look like?” He said we’re living in a society that “no longer supports Christian values, virtues, or way of life,” describing evangelization today as “entering mission territory.”
“So many don’t realize they’re living in secularism,” he said. “He who dies with the most toys wins. Yet, power and pleasure seem so normal.”
“God doesn’t have much impact” on the lives of many people today, he said, and they often “end up believing whatever they want to believe” without church, sacred scripture, or family.
He also pointed to the influence of “scientism,” in which people believe “science is the most authoritative source of knowledge; science, not God, is the source of light”; and “religion belongs to the world of superstition” and could even “be dangerous.”
Addressing the second question, “How do I get my tackle ready for fishing?” Monsignor reminded the audience that despite these societal challenges, “we should not be afraid because of the divine power of grace; you’re not alone.”
He quoted St. John Chrysostom: “The weakness of God is stronger than men.”
“Even the Apostles were afraid,” he said. “If they had not seen Him risen, they wouldn’t have risked so much.”
“Do not be afraid,” he repeated. “Christ is on our side, and the grace of the Holy Spirit. Put on the mind of Christ, not the mind of the world.”
Of secularism, Monsignor Baker said it “can never be satisfied” and “always leaves you aching for something more.”
He referenced Bruce Springsteen, who wrote and sang “Hungry Heart” in 1980. He countered it with a quote by St. Augustine: “Our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
For the final question, “How do I fish? How do I get something on the end of my line?” Monsignor advised, “Take that first step, and just do it. Indifference is the enemy. We should be able to speak up for what we believe.”
He recommended starting an “apostolate of friendship. Help a friend encounter Christ, and ultimately encounter Heaven. Take advantage of the God moments.” And if your best attempts don’t seem to have an impact, “hand off that person to God” and pray for them.
Mike Bailey of Immaculate Conception BVM, Douglassville said that he found Monsignor Baker’s talk “very inspiring” and said, “I already have some ideas” for how to go about evangelizing his nephew who is considering leaving the Church, and his daughter, both in their 30s.
Mark Schenk of St. Ignatius Loyola, Sinking Spring said he “liked the structure” of the talk; it had “ideas you can take with you.” When it comes to evangelizing, he said, “Sometimes you need a map.”
The Commission for Men will be hosting a Catholic Men’s Conference at DeSales University on November 18. This year’s theme is Ask, Knock, Seek. To learn more and register, visit www.menaliveinchrist.org.