Summary of Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion and the Crisis of Faith by Fr John McCloskey III and Russell Shaw

Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion and the Crisis of Faith by Fr John McCloskey III and Russell Shaw, Ignatius Press, 2007.

Drawing on moving, firsthand accounts of conversions gathered by Fr. McCloskey (famous “convert maker” priest) and Russell Shaw (Catholic author), Good News, Bad News combines personal testimony, solid theology, and effective methods of communicating the Catholic Faith.

Here are 3 helpful tips I got from the book:

1. Authentic conversion is God’s work

We must always keep this central truth in mind: “Authentic conversion is the work of God’s grace” (89). But this foundational principle cannot be a rationalization to sit back and avoid the labours of evangelization. Rather, it should inspire us to pursue the heights of holiness to co-labour with God in the most effective way possible – via prayer, mortification, participation in the sacraments, good example, friendship.

 “Someone who is interested in helping a friend find his way into the Catholic Church must be prepared to pray and do mortification – and ultimately must leave everything in the hands of God. A few lunches and a little apologetics won’t get the job done” (115).

“Effective evangelization must flow from prayer and mortification and participation in the sacraments – from one’s ongoing ascetical struggle to put on Jesus Christ” (91).

“Pressure (other than the “pressure” brought to bear through prayer, sacrifice, good example, and friendship) simply doesn’t work” (28).

2. The apostolate of friendship

We need to commit ourselves to one-on-one evangelization through solid friendships. These friendships must be real and not based solely on getting the person to become Catholic either.

The most effective means of evangelization today is – as it has always been – individual, personal apostolate, the apostolate of friendship. Other evangelizing instruments – the media, for example – can and should be used, but nothing will ever take the place of one friend speaking the good news to another” (63).

“Personal, one-on-one (and, sometimes, family-to-family) relationships are at the heart of evangelization and conversion. Evangelization always involves a personal relationship of love expressed in the evangelizer’s gift of self” (92).

Don’t worry if your friend rejects coming into the Church: “Prayer, persistence, and patience come next. And constancy in friendship. The evidence that your love for your friend is for real may finally win him over” (38).

3. Catholicism is not a feel-good religion.

“Catholicism is not a feel-good religion. For many people, the greatest joy in being or becoming a Catholic consists in having true answers to the perennial questions that Pope John Paul speaks of in his great encyclical Fides et Ratio: “Who am I? Where have I come from and where am I going? Why is there evil? What is there after this life?” (66).

“The Catholic Mass is not a form of entertainment. It is worship” (117).

And finally, an amusing thought to inspire you to evangelize…

“Here’s a consoling thought: no matter how little you may think you know, the friend you’re talking with almost certainly knows less. Undoubtedly the most important part of it is knowing where to go for the answers we need” (34).

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