Dear Brothers and Sisters,
There is a saying attributed to St. Francis that goes, “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” While it is certainly a “feel good” quote, scholars doubt whether it is really from St. Francis.
Because it feels good and because people feel good about St. Francis this quote has become almost a byword for Catholics when it comes to evangelization. Yes, it is wonderful to be a good example, and we cannot proclaim the Catholic faith if we are not prepared to live it.
However, preaching the gospel involves more than just good works, and the fake St. Francis quote is too often used as a cop out to avoid the difficult task of evangelization. Yes, good works are necessary, but Peter, our first pope says in I Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” In other words, speak up. Actions do speak louder than words, but words are also necessary.
The folks at OLR have, for many years, done an excellent job of being a Catholic witness to our community. Through the work of our St. Vincent de Paul Society, Mother Teresa House and MercyWorks we show Christ’s love in ministering to those in need.
We need to remember, however, that folks have souls as well as bodies. It is important to share the faith as well as food. How can we give bread if we will not share the Bread of Life? We can share our Catholic faith with family, friends and neighbors as St. Peter recommends: “with gentleness and respect.”