On Sunday, October 15, the Feast of Saint Teresa of Avila, Pope Francis released an exhortation on the other Saint Therese, the little Flower’s life.
In part he said:
Therese’s reflections throughout her autobiography “Story of a Soul,” illustrate “the fact that evangelization takes place by attraction, not by pressure or proselytism,” and that grace sets one free of “self-absorption” because it impels one toward love of others.
This is very traditional and pre-Vatican II. My father, who was thoroughly pre-Vatican II and somewhat rigid in a legalistic way, not only in religion but in life in general, never sent religious Christmas cards to friends or family as he did not want to proselytize anyone, especially if they took offense as being sent such cards, thus he sent secular Christmas cards, quite beautiful too.
Evangelization takes place through beauty, especially that of love. But I have to say, when I was growing up, most of my friends and their parents were Protestants and quite anti-Catholic.
However, one mother of a friend of mine in the early 60’s told me that she was blown away by a Catholic Funeral Mass for a child and the Mass of the Angels setting for the Mass that was chanted. She was blown away by the beauty of the Catholic Church where the funeral was held.
Most converts prior to Vatican II and afterward became converts because of the beauty of the pre-Vatican II liturgies, the clarity of Catholic teachings, the asceticism of prayer, fasting and alms giving. They saw the beauty of rules.
The other aspect of the beauty of the pre-Vatican II Church is that the bishops and other clergy were able to keep Catholics on the periphery of the Church, meaning living duplicitous lives, even hypocritical, coming to Mass each Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. More than 90% of all Catholics in the USA up to the early 60’s attended Mass even if they were not able to receive Holy Communion due to breaking the fast or being in mortal sin! That’s beautiful, that they knew they had to be at Mass and were welcomed and obligated to be at Mass even if they could not receive Holy Communion!
That’s Catholic beauty and it is evangelizing!