The ecology of evangelization

News that the Holy Father has made appointments to his Council for New Evangelization brought to mind that there are connections between ecological realities and the call to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. These connections shouldn’t come as a surprise.

After all, the truths we proclaim come from the same God who created the laws of life. One such law is the reality that organisms benefit from proximity—indeed, an intimacy—with their own kind as well as other species.

Groupings of plants or animals (or even bacteria) very often form “micro-environments” that assist each individual organism. For instance, in the case of plants, a cluster of foliage creates a shelter that protects the ground from scorching sun, helps retain moisture, and provides physical support in times of stormy weather.

Human cultures act the same way. People grow together in micro-environments called families, parishes and communities. We share each others’ burdens and bounties, and protect each other from harm. A community can absorb injury to its members when survivors respond with acts of corporeal or spiritual charity—when we respond with love.

Within the church, we ennoble each other’s existence by sharing the Truth that has been revealed to us by God himself. From generation to generation, we pass on sacred Scripture and tradition. But we are called to do so not only for subsequent generations; we must bring the Gospel to those around us here and now.

Again, this sharing of the Gospel to our neighbors should not be a surprise, since the very foundation of all existence and life is the Triune God, who is love and relationship. Hence, the great Christian truth that the Word of God became flesh and made its dwelling among us confirms for humanity that the true enemy of civilization (and marriages and families) is not hate, war or disease, but isolation and apathy. Ignoring our neighbors comes at our peril.

But thanks to some very dedicated Catholics, especially members of the Legion of Mary—and many others who have done similar work within this diocese and elsewhere—this ecological character of evangelization is rousing. In my home state of Rhode Island this past June, some fifty pairs of mostly inexperienced evangelizers went door to door to door within the boundaries of St. Timothy’s parish in Warwick. The results were powerful and are still being felt. No doubt that day souls were saved.

A similar day—filled with amazing stories of encounters—took place at St. Joseph’s parish in Woonsocket, RI. The pastors of these parish families are to be applauded for their foresight and trust in the people they shepherd, as well as in the Shepherd himself.

Not everyone who helps at such door-to-door campaigns needs to be on the front lines; men and women are needed to help tally records, prepare meals for volunteers, and, most especially, to join in prayer. Like any good ecosystem, everyone has something they need to contribute.

And so it is important to remember that what took place at these two parishes—and what will be taking place at two other parishes in Rhode Island that are planning similar days this spring—is really nothing other than the ecology of evangelization. It is the interaction of living beings for the betterment of the species and the salvation of souls. Most importantly, this work is the simple response to our Lord’s command to “Go” and make disciples—and in doing so, wage war with a culture of death by offering our neighbors the great gift of finding the way to eternal life.

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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.