“What you do, shouts louder than what you say.” How many times have we heard that expression? My mother said it to me many times! These words bring to mind one of the gems of St. Francis of Assisi—“Preach always; if necessary use words.” Don’t we really know that we influence others so very much by what we do than just with words of instruction or advice?
As a matter of fact, this prompts me to be a “both/and” rather than an “either/or” kind of person. We do need both means of communicating with others. This is emphasized by Pope Paul VI in his great document on evangelization, Evangelii Nuntiandi, in which he states that witness is primary in living and sharing the faith. “The first means of evangelization is the witness of an authentically Christian life…As we said recently to a group of lay people, ‘modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.’” (EN #41)
How is our witnessing going these days? Does our way of living speak loud enough of the faith we have in God’s unbelievable love for us and our honest effort to return that love by our commitment to Jesus and his way of life?
Bishop William R. Houck is the President Emeritus of the Catholic Extension Society.