Retreat keynote: Married couples should ‘preach at all times’ – using words

| February 5, 2015 | 0 Comments

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David Rinaldi insists he’s not a marriage or parenting expert, but he does have years of experience working with Catholic teens and young adults as part of West St. Paul-based NET Ministries. For almost two decades, he has helped to train young adults eager to begin NET’s yearlong evangelization efforts, and he hears them describe the roots of their vibrant faith. Many point to their parents’ strong Catholic faith and the witness of love-filled marriages, he said.

A popular local Catholic speaker, Rinaldi, 47, is one of two keynote speakers who will be featured at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ Newly Married Retreat Feb. 7 at St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony.

He and his wife, Linda, have been married 12 years, and have three boys, ages 11, 8 and 5. The family attends St. Joseph in West St. Paul.

The importance of evangelization – in the home, and beyond – is central to Rinaldi’s keynote presentation on married couples as evangelists, and a separate workshop, “Raising Kids to Love Jesus.”

“In marriage, we are told we have to focus on us, and that it’s about our family, or our marriage. That’s good, we have to focus on those things,” he said.

However, he said, Catholics need to use their marriage to reach others. He roots his view in Pope VI’s 1975 apostolic exhortation “On Evangelization in the Modern World,” which influenced Pope Francis’ recent exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel.”

“Since marriage reflects the relationship between Christ and his Church, the power the couple can have to evangelize is powerful,” Rinaldi said.

He links evangelization to God’s command in Genesis that Adam and Eve – an icon of married couples – be fruitful and multiply.

“Usually we only think of ‘multiply’ as children, but we have to build the kingdom, and we do that individually, but we also do that as a couple,” he said.

Although some shy away from considering themselves “evangelizers,” Catholic couples are called to spread the Gospel, he said – both to their neighbors, their family and their children. He shared five ways Catholic couples can do that in their daily lives.

1.    Live an authentically Christian life.

“When people see you as a married couple, they need to see people who love God,” Rinadli said. “They’re going to watch you when you lose your car, lose your job or – God forbid – you lose your child. Do they see people of hope?”

He gave the example of a family he knew that exuded hope, although the husband was battling cancer.

“Without even saying the name of Jesus, they’re witnessing that they have this faith, this trust, or this hope in something bigger than themselves. When people see us, they should see us growing in the image of God,” he said.

Demonstrating other virtues, such as temperance with food or drink, can also be part of that witness, Rinaldi said. “It’s witnessing through your daily activity that my life is no longer my own. I belong to Jesus.”

2.    Pray for opportunities to reach out to people

Catholics should ask God for the chance to “be an evangelist,” Rinaldi said. “I’m not going to go around and talk to all my neighbors or all the people at Sam’s Club, ‘Let me tell you about Jesus,’ but I just pray, ‘Lord, give me an opportunity if you want me to share the Gospel,’” he said. Rinaldi looks for ways to mention Jesus or his faith in everyday conversations, and prays for help discerning how and when. He also prays for the courage to do it, he said.

3.    Cultivate a “kingdom perspective”

Catholics shouldn’t separate their “Christian life” from their “regular life,” Rinaldi said. “We cannot compartmentalize our lives from our Church life to our bowling life,” he said. “We only have one life.”

Cultivating what Rinaldi calls a “kingdom perspective” draws on “the idea that we’re not of this world, and that our home is in heaven. We’re here on earth as an ambassador,” he said. “You’re a missionary whether you work for 3M, or you work in a parish, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, or you work in a factory.”

4.    Extend yourself in relationship with other people.

Before a Catholics starts talking about Jesus with their neighbors, Rinaldi recommends that they get to know them first. “Before sharing the Gospel, become the person’s friend,” he said. “Be a family of hospitality, or [if] you know the lady next to you got a divorce, take her to lunch.” Rinaldi thinks social media use has actually driven people to make fewer real connections, and shouldn’t be a substitute for friendship. “Get off the social media and be social,” he said.

5.    Preach the Gospel at all times, and use words.

There’s a well-circulated quote attributed to St. Francis: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” Rinaldi said he’s seen it misapplied to justify the attitude of “I’ll just live a good life, and I won’t talk about Jesus.”

“It’s always necessary to use words,” Rinaldi said. Catholics need to share that the source of their peace, joy and hope is Jesus, he said.

Sole appeals to apologetics or debates about Church teaching aren’t enough, he added. “You can argue all day long … but it won’t get anyone to understand God’s love,” he said.

To learn more about the Archdiocesan Newly Married Retreat and other events for married couples in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, call the Office of Marriage, Family and Life at (651) 291-4488.

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