In my experience, when Catholics are confronted with the idea of evangelizing, the first reaction is fear—plain, unadulterated fear. You know how they say people most fear public speaking and death? Well, most Catholics would rather give a speech from their grave than evangelize.
That fear usually takes one of two forms (or even a double whammy of both). First, the Catholic fears that he doesn’t know enough about his faith to evangelize. He might even fear that his ignorance is so bad he could turn people away from the Faith. The second fear is social rejection. What if my family or friends or co-workers think I’m crazy? Or offensive? I don’t want to be the religious freak with no friends.
Many Catholics have rationalized their fears in order to refrain from evangelizing: If I offend Elizabeth it’ll harm our relationship and then I won’t be able to be a good witness to her.
Or, I don’t think Will is ready to hear that yet. He’ll think I’m judging him and it’ll just turn him away from the Church if I talk about it now.
And my personal favorite: St. Francis said we only have to preach the gospel through our actions, so I don’t really need to bring up my faith with others. My actions will convert them.
This widespread fear of evangelization has consequences; most importantly, many souls have not heard the gospel proclaimed in all its beauty and fullness. While evangelicals, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses are hitting the streets, Catholics are sitting at home with their mouths shut. The departure of so many people from the Church over the past few decades isn’t unrelated to our lack of evangelization. So it’s vital that we overcome these fears and work to spread the Faith. Let’s look at the two main fears of evangelization and see if we can’t make them a little less daunting.