Want to effectively evangelize? Get uncomfortable.

It goes without saying that one of the greatest modern evangelizers is the Ven. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. It is unquestionable that he maintained an unquenchable zeal for souls during his entire priesthood.

Here’s what Ven. Sheen wrote in a letter while he was a professor at Catholic University of America:

“During the past year letters demanding personal attention have run between 75 and a 100 a day…This coupled with classes never given with less than six hours preparation for each lecture has left me physically exhausted. However the good to be done is such that one dare not shrink from its opportunities for apostolate.”

If you want to be and become an effective evangelizer, follow Bishop Sheen’s lead and get uncomfortable.

First, get uncomfortable intellectually.

We know that 60% of the “nones” (the religiously unaffiliated) claim they left because of religious teachings. And probably religious teachings they did not completely understand.

St. Peter, in his epistle, exhorts us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)

Quick examination of conscience:

Can you articulate the meaning of the Christian Faith and the Gospel? If not, get uncomfortable intellectually!

Challenge yourself with reading a book from this list from Brandon Vogt. We have a responsibility to be able to intelligently answer the important questions our children, family, friends, neighbors, seekers, and those who have fallen away are asking.

The Church has answers but we need to study! Regardless of what our primary or secondary vocations are, cultivating the life of the mind is crucial to evangelizing the culture, as well as growing in our own love for God.

Bishop Sheen not only spent six hours preparing for his lectures, but he is also known to have read every single word of St. Thomas Aquinas.

In Bishop Robert Barron’s latest video on Bishop Sheen, he recommends that we too should choose a “touchstone” figure and become a disciple of all their works.

Second, get uncomfortable emotionally.

Pope Francis often speaks of going out into the “peripheries.” The Good Shepherd doesn’t wait for the lost sheep. He goes out in search of the sheep and rescues them.

Bishop Sheen says “it stays once it is found.” We cannot live the Christian faith without the context of relationship and deep friendship.

Quick examination of conscience:

Who do I need to reach out to despite the fact that “reaching out” is outside of my comfort zone?

(Think of the person you’ve avoided, but that you think or even know the Holy Spirit is asking you to talk to…or maybe even invite to Mass?)

George Weigel advises us to ask ourselves at every Easter Vigil Mass, “How many people did I introduce to Jesus this year?”

Perhaps life would be surprisingly richer and more fruitful if more Christians risked emotionally. Former prison inmate, Joshua Stancil, converted through the friendship of visitors for over a decade. Listen to his inspiring testimony at the New York Encounter here.

Thirdly, get uncomfortable spiritually.

Quick examination of conscience:

Do I need to up my prayer game? Am I intentionally, specifically, and actively praying for conversions? Bishop Sheen says Jesus “breaks down no locked doors. He will come in only if we open to Him.”

Maybe another way to view the Greatest Commandment (you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength–Mk. 12:30) is that love is the sacrifice of getting uncomfortable in these three ways: intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

Perhaps St. Mark listed strength last because all these aspects of human energy make you physically tired. Gazing on the cross is a good reminder that physical exhaustion is also an aspect of the cost of discipleship.

But as master evangelizer, Bishop Sheen reminds us: “the Holy Spirit gives strength to those who spend it.”

A final evangelizing note from St. Teresa of Calcutta:

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”

[See also: Why Mary’s Intercession is So Miraculous, According to the Ven. Archbishop Fulton Sheen]

[See also: “Don’t Be Afraid of Confession…Feelings Don’t Determine Forgiveness,” Parish Priest Encourages]

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