This was a real question that I recently received!!!
I will first answer this question with a question…Has anyone heard a more heartwarming question than that? How happy would St. Pope John Paul II be to hear that question? What a great example of 'the new evangelization.' Let me first give some stories of young people evangelizing and then some practical examples.
Most traditions put the age of St. Tarcisius around 12 years old. At St. Tarcisius' young age he has given the Church an amazing testimony and example of faith in the true Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. He died while protecting the Blessed Sacrament while on route to taking it to prisoners.
For the last hundred years, Catholics around the world have been inspired by the story of St. Maria Goretti who died at the age of 11 to keep her purity. Her example even inspired the man that killed her to convert and accept Christ's forgiveness. That is some evangelization!
Just a short time ago, Blessed Chiara “Luce” Badano died in 1990 at the age of 18. A normal Italian teen who loved sports and friends. She dreamed of being a flight attendant and had a smile that would have lite up an airplane. Above all things she loved Jesus Christ. She described her efforts to evangelize her friends “by the way I listen to them, by the way I dress, and above all, by the way I love them.” Chiara’s story is one of the 56 saint stories I share in my book Casting Nets with the Saints.
St. Dominic Savio, a student of St. John Bosco, was seven years old at the time of his First Communion when he took the motto, "Death, but not sin!" This saint died at the age of 15, but gave all young people a great example when he said, "I can't do big things, but I want everything to be for the glory of God."
Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 declared Antionietta Meo, also known as "Nennolina," to be honored as "Venerable". At the age of 5 she joined Catholic Action, an organization dedicated to evangelization. Nennolina had to have her left leg amputated, but her answer to the pain was, "May each step that I take be a little word of love." She passed away at the age of 6 years old.
While we do not know the exact age of St. Paul's young protégé, St. Timothy, most scholars put his age somewhere around the late teens to early twenties. We do know that those around St. Timothy believed him to be young for his position which caused St. Paul to write, "Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity" (1 Tim 4:12).
As you can see, age does not matter when it comes to holiness or the ability to bring others to the Good News of Jesus Christ. So here is some practical advice for a young person who wants to evangelize (much of which should apply to all ages too):
1. Receive the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession often and fervently.
2. Like St. Paul said, be an example in speech. Don't use the Lord's name in vain or talk poorly about people. When people around you use the Lord's name in vain, tell them that you don't like that.
3. Encourage everyone to go to Mass on Sunday.
4. Tell people that God loves them. Remind family and friends that God loves them but also let people you meet though the day know that they are loved by God.
5. Be proud to be Catholic. Wear a scapular. Miraculous Medal, or crucifix. Wear Catholic t-shirts or especially your "Casting Nets" t-shirt. :)
If you do these things well, you will inspire many people...this question has already inspired me.
Co-Founder & COO
Casting Nets Ministries
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