At a recent meeting, Catholic magazine editors from around the country discussed modern challenges of evangelization. Language was among those identified.
It’s easy to get stuck in language. Lingo and colloquialisms often ease communication within a group but may cause confusion to others. The editors largely agreed that we must take great care in our language of evangelization to be sure it’s accessible to many people.
Consider some of the current terms used in Catholic evangelization: Journey. Accompany. Encounter. Radical (my favorite). These terms, all used in this issue, might make most sense in the context of professional evangelization, that is, among clergy and employees who assist the bishops. Even the word evangelization is hefty. Six syllables, sometimes seeming sanctimonious.
It’s valid to question how well the language of evangelization resonates with average Catholics.
Christian discipleship is most easily described as two-fold:
Grow in our faith.
Go make other disciples.
Just before Jesus was arrested, He prayed that “this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3). This is our call to grow in our faith, to pray and study and serve in ways that fortify our relationship with God.
The Great Commission, to “Go into the whole word and proclaim the Gospel to every creature,” (Mark 16:15) is our universal call to evangelize — to share the joy of the Gospel message.
The editors focused on these two words — simple, one syllable, alliterative and rhyming — as perhaps the easiest way to understand what often feels intimidating. These two words might best describe the mission of magazines like Catholic St. Louis: Help readers grow in faith so they can go help others do the same.