Somewhere along the line, many leaders in the Church forgot about the need for proper evangelization. That is, to make proselytites.
Now, I want to be clear, we are not to force people to convert. That is not how proper conversion works based on our understanding of the sacraments needing free will in order to be valid.
Many in the Church today are under the false ideology that if we only live authentic Catholic lives, that that is all we need in order to win over souls. We don’t need to meet people where they’re at, we don’t need to even try to convince them of why they should become Catholic. This is erroneous and a danger to the souls of those who we should be trying to convert.
As a convert myself, it was not the idea of Catholics being hunky dory that led to my conversion. What led to my conversion was the deep shame I had for my sins and the realization that I would never be the same for committing them. On top of that, I felt guilty for my actions and didn’t feel that I was worthy of Heaven.
My friend eventually told me that I needed the saving waters of Baptism to not only cleanse me of Original Sin, but of the sins that I had committed. On top of that I needed to worship the Triune God, in His Son’s Church, the Catholic Church. This is what drew me into the Catholic Church. Not a life of happiness, but of second chances.
It is rare that we choose a life-changing event based on how happy we see others doing it. This idea that we only need to live an authentically joyful life in order to win over souls, is not something that Christ preached:
Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. Matthew 28:19-20 DR
There are two figures who can shed more light on this.
Mother Theresa interacted with many people both directly and indirectly. I have never met her, but have heard the stories of those who have, as well as have heard her speak. Likewise, I was not Catholic when Pope St. John Paul 2 was alive. Nevertheless, I can read what he had to write and hear what he had to say.
With the combination of Blessed Mother Theresa and St. John Paul 2 and the way they joyfully lived out their lives, wouldn’t you think that a majority of the world would be Catholic? When you look at the numbers, it doesn’t add up. The number of Catholics in India is only about 19.9 million. This makes up for roughly 1.55% of their population. This tells me that just living out your faith joyfully isn’t enough.
Part of living out your faith requires that you evangelize and teach non-believers to come into the Church. We Catholics know that we are doomed if we step foot outside of the Church as she teaches beautifully EXTRA ECCLESIAM NULLA SALUS or No Salvation Outside of the Church.
Because we know of this teaching, we realize that all other practices are poisonous. Much like you wouldn’t let a friend or family member drink an actual bottle of poison, you shouldn’t let a friend or family member stay outside of the Church. It is indeed a matter of life or death, of the soul.
We learn from the Catholic liturgy the importance of living out an authentic Catholic life. Worship, doctrine, and prayer all come together as it all points us back to God.
Living out your faith, while important, is not the only way, nor even the best way to bring about conversions. Regular conversation is the best way. It may not be your job to fully convince them of the Truth, but it is your job to tell them the Truth.