Wherever you are reading this, consider the people who surround you. If you are at home, consider the people in your house (or who will be in your house,) your neighbors, the people walking down the street, maybe the people doing work on your road or the mail courier making a stop.
If you are at work, there are your co-workers, customers, and the people making deliveries. At the coffee house there are all of the other patrons and the barista. At school (I’m sure that you are not reading his during class) there are your fellow students, teachers, and support staff. Well, you get the idea.
So here is a question for you: Of all the people you considered, how many were Catholic priests, deacons, or religious? My guess for most of you the number would be: NONE. For some, it might be one but probably in passing. So how does the Gospel spread in these areas?
Here is the answer: You. The last of the Precepts of the Church (I know, it’s been awhile hasn’t it?) is “Joining in the missionary spirit and apostolate of the Church.” It’s the only this thing works. Because, if not you, then who?
It doesn’t mean you have to carry a sign and mention Jesus’ name in every other sentence. That tends to drive more people away than attract. 99% of it is striving to be a good Christian – trying to set a good example. The rest is taking advantage of opportunities afforded you.
Here is an example. My Father was a confirmed Catholic but had become a Non-botherist. He didn’t necessarily believe or not believe in God – the question wasn’t even on his radar though he was generally opposed to any organized religion. (That made for interesting conversations with his priest son.) Toward the end of his life he would ask me to help him – inferring helping him get over his illness – and I would say, “Dad, all I got is sacraments and prayer,” to which he would make a sour face that said, “as if that would help.”
One day after saying, “All I got is sacrament and prayer,” he said, “Okay.” It took a while for that to register. After clarifying that he actually meant it I told him to hold on to that thought as I RAN out to my car to get my oils (I’d long stopped bothering to carrying them in) and anointed him.
Missionary spirit – taking God where He is not found – giving example, having patience, an attitude of invitation, and keeping an eye and ear open for an opportunity.