Evangelize like a Duck Commander

by Chris Stewart

My family and I were watching an episode of the A&E hit show “Duck Dynasty.” Most people by now are familiar with the bearded family of West Monroe, LA that have turned the business of making duck calls into a multi-million dollar phenomena.

While the Robertson clan’s sense of humor may not be entertaining to all people or there ‘controversial’ moral stances have pushed some away, they have built up a loyal base of support by holding to traditional American values of God, family and country. Their signature ending of each episode (a family meal beginning with a prayer in which they’re not afraid to use the name of Jesus) is why my family has been fans from the beginning.

This past week we watched the season nine episode “Heroes’ Welcome.” It was an episode that showcased all the virtues we have come to love about the Robertson family.

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Evangelization 101: A Short Guide to Sharing the Gospel

By Carl E. Olson

If asked to complete this sentence, "The entire mission of the Church, then, is concentrated and manifested in –", how many Catholics would finish it with the word "evangelization"?

That sentence is from Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, "On the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World." It was written by the late Holy Father at the end of 1988 in response to the 1987 Synod of Bishops, which had focused on the theme "Vocation and Mission in the Church and in the World Twenty Years after the Second Vatican Council." Forty years have now passed since the conclusion of the last Council and the topic of evangelization remains as vital and urgent as ever.

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Fulton Sheen's Secret to Evangelization

By Brandon Vogt

Who was the greatest Catholic evangelist of the twentieth century? To me it’s no contest: Venerable Fulton J. Sheen. Some might argue for Pope John Paul II, who had a bigger impact on the world. Others might claim Mother Teresa, whose smile and sari were certainly more recognizable. But in terms of evangelization, I don’t think anyone drew more people into the Church than Sheen.

His success was due in large part to his mastery of new media, which in his day meant radio and television. In 1930, Sheen launched his “Catholic Hour” radio show. It broadcast globally on over 100 stations and reached more than 7 million listeners. In 1951, he moved to television, where his popular “Life Is Worth Living” show drew in over 30 million people each week.

The show also generated more than 20,000 personal letters written daily to Sheen, many of which he answered himself. Through his mail correspondence and personal instruction, he helped thousands of people enter the Church and countless others further into it. In fact, my own spiritual director is one of them. He’s an 89-year-old, self-described “Sheen-fiend” who credits Sheen with inspiring him to become a priest.

What made Sheen so successful? He of course had charisma, wit, and intelligence, but what strategies did he use to draw people to Christ?

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Pro-life is Cool

Some rights reserved by Beechwood Photography

By Chris Stefanick

In many ways, coolness wasn’t a big help to adolescent development in the ‘80s and ‘90s. As a member of “generation Jeff Spicoli” (see “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”—or better yet, don’t see it!), drinking, messing around with girls, and skating by in school with a C- would have all been socially acceptable for me.

The ever-shifting parameters of “cool” drove hordes of teens to put grease in their hair in the ‘50s, sleep outdoors for three days in the mud at Woodstock in the ‘60s, wear bellbottoms in the ‘70s, and popularized disturbingly neon clothing in the ‘80s.  Much like the wind, “cool” is hard to pin down, but its effects on youth culture are hard to miss.

Thanks to an early conversion to the Catholic faith, I wasn’t a casualty of cool. In high school I wore baggy pants, had long hair and had a rosary dangling visibly from my pocket. I could rip on electric guitar and knew every John Michael Talbot (a Catholic quasi-monk musician) song ever written. I wasn’t the norm. The fact that I was deeply religious and regarded as cool by my peers was an anomaly. And as a teenager I stood out like a sore thumb at pro-life demonstrations.

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The Ripple Effect of Faith

Rights reserved Andy B Photography

By Chris Stefanick

Eleven years ago I sat with my wife at the edge of the baptismal font with our hands on Ryan’s back, along with the priest’s.  Three dunks later he was a child of God.  It was no small journey.  He, like St. Augustine, was a philosopher. His questions flowed like an endless stream over late night beers.  He became our dear friend, though we knew he might never become a brother in Christ.

It wasn’t until Holy Thursday that Ryan willed to believe in God.  While listening to the Nicene Creed at Mass, he allowed grace a small opening when he asked himself, “Do I believe that?  And if not, what do I believe in?”  His walls of resistance fell, one after another, as the creed went on, “Yes! I believe in God the Father almighty. …Yes! I believe in the resurrection of the body! ... Yes! I believe in the forgiveness of sin, too! …Yes!  I do believe!”  Two days later the waters of baptism rippled with yet another convert.

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