An unexpected lesson in evangelization

I was having one of those, what I like to call, St. Teresa of Avila moments: “Oh Lord, if this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few.”

No need to spill all the details. But suffice it say I was feeling quite sorry for myself and sorry for all of those in Catholic media wondering if we were really having an impact at all even among our Catholic brothers and sisters.

This doesn’t happen to me too often as most of the time I am an extremely positive person and when it does happen, the Lord always sends me affirmations through my radio listeners in the form of an encouraging “thank you” email or phone call.

This time, however, the “attagirl” came from someone we might least expect to be listening to Catholic radio.

Jim from Canada contacted me through Facebook. He explained how he started listening to me because of his broken car radio.

For some strange reason it wasn’t working properly and the only station that came through clearly was WDEO AM 990/Ave Maria Radio in Ann Arbor, Mich., which produces Catholic Connection.

First of all, what a coincidence, or shall we say “Godcidence,” that the only station to come through clearly was the local Catholic station.

Second, Jim went on to say that it was certainly unusual for him not to just turn such a station off given that he was in his own words, “very liberal, pro-choice and gay.”

He was a bit uneasy at first but he described hearing a consistent message; a firm but welcoming approach in the programming and interviews. He first found it entertaining and then found himself being challenged and also discovered something in him was starting to change.

“I’m smiling now thinking about how excited I would get when I would hear that little theme before your show.

As the summer months continued I started to notice a change. I was no longer just being entertained. I was starting to really think. My opinions were being challenged and that challenge was creating change. It was my heart that had started to listen.”

Did you catch that last line about his “heart” starting to listen?

Jim’s comment sounded an awful lot like St. Benedict who said we need to “listen and attend with the ear of the heart.”

What we discuss in Catholic media, the beauty and truth of our Faith, reaches people in the depths of their hearts and souls, if they are open.

The Word of God and his love for us is what is so needed in our lost and troubled world today.

I did write back to Jim to thank him for the encouragement and I am hoping to learn more about where this journey of the heart is taking him.

It’s funny, though. Jim said he was learning a lot from Catholic radio and that he started to really think.

This is a young man who was raised with little or no catechesis. His dad is apparently Catholic, and his mom now a Jehovah’s Witness.

In the end he ended up teaching me an awful lot about evangelization.

It’s pretty simple, actually. We just need to keep doing the 1 Peter 3:15-16 thing: “always be ready to give a defense for the hope that is within you but do it with gentleness and reverence.”

Put the truth out there in a loving way and stop feeling sorry for ourselves if our efforts don’t always seem to meet our expectations.

If hearts are open, the truth will penetrate.

The rest of the story is up to God.

Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.