Wouldn't it be amazing if someone began to believe in God simply because of how YOU choose to live your life? My favorite week of the year is the Life Teen Leadership Conference. It's a week of intense catechesis and discernment where kids who are ready to jump into God's arms have a fire lit under their seats. They learn that they're not called to escape the world, they're called to engage it.
As Catholics we're called to live differently than the rest of the world. God is meant to be encountered and experienced, not just explained. As followers of Christ, we are asked to be brave, to accept that we won't have as much of or even any of the same things as other people. You've been learning about what our faith believes your whole life. What do you think a Catholic Christian should look like?
If we are praying as we ought - receiving Sacraments as often as we should - and truly keeping our hearts, minds and bodies open to God's will, here's 3 signs that people should be able to tell you're bravely following Christ as your guide:
Less is More.
The rich young man in the Bible didn't experience joy when he encountered Jesus. Why? Because there was too much in the way. When we embrace the Gospel, we know that the less we have, the closer we are to God. It's not a sin to be wealthy but it is true that the more attached you are to your possessions, the farther you are from God. This relates to how we "possess" technology, how we spend our time, how attached we are to our friendships and even ideas of our future.
We are called to live with hopeful confidence. Shame is the enemy - even when we have doubts, weaknesses and imperfections - we know that we should lean in towards God, not away from Him, to become stronger. When something bad happens, we don't falter. We stay smiling. When we make decisions, we trust that God will bless us when we make our choice based on the information and intuition He's given us (as temples of the Holy Spirit, what we have in the present moment is more than sufficient to make commitments God can bless.) We aren't indecisive, insecure or anxious. We know these are threats that weaken our faith that do NOT come from God. It's not that we think we are awesome; we boast in the Lord because He has already conquered death. What are the piddly trials of our daily life compared to the victory of the Cross?
We accompany people in their struggles; we don't abandon people just because they don't agree with us, because we don't understand their life. We don't judge people by the way they carry the burdens God has given them. Whether they are gay, atheist, sexually promiscuous, depressed - whatever. We know that we are here on earth for Them. How they live their life doesn't "bother" us - but they fact that they don't know the joy, peace and life that comes with Jesus Christ does make us comfortable, because it's our responsibility to share it with them - gently, with kindness, and respect. We are peacemakers who don't care if people agree with us, hurt us, put us down, hate our way of life or even try to kill us. We just want them to know the Lord.
When people see you living this way, they will want what you have. They will know that you pray. They will know that you believe in the reality of the Sacraments; when you are regularly confessing your sins, soaking your heart in Scripture and receiving the Eucharist in a state of grace, it will show in the way you speak, move and how you spend your Friday night. People will tell, and they will want to know about this Jesus you have who is making your life so full of peace and joy.
Evangelization isn't about standing on a street corner. It's about living with less, that you might have more. It's about trusting in God, rather than getting lost like everyone else. It's about being compassionate, because the world has enough judges; it needs more mercy.