52 Ways to Know Your Faith

Ten years ago I wrote a book called The New Evangelization and You: Be Not Afraid.

After turning in the first draft, my editor asked if I could perhaps come up with one more chapter.

I really didn’t like the idea of padding the book just for the sake of extra pages but agreed to noodle on the idea for a day or two.

Fairly quickly, an idea came to me that ended up being the most popular part of the entire book.

The chapter was called “A Year of New Evangelizing,” and in it, I suggested 52 ways for people to know their faith, 52 ways to live their faith, and 52 ways to share their faith. Each suggestion was relatively simple, digestible, and achievable.

For a few years after the book was published, I used that chapter in countless talks throughout the United States (humble brag: as well as a series of talks my wife and I gave in Australia and New Zealand back in 2014).

I’d ask someone from the audience to pick a number between one and fifty-two, open the book to that chapter, find the number in that chapter, and show people how easy it is to evangelize without shoving things down other’s throats by riffing off of the suggestions from my own book. [efn_note]Here’s a video of one of these talks where I did this trick. It’s about halfway through the talk.[/efn_note]

Later, I did a recurring radio spot on Matt Swaim and Anna Mitchell’s Son Rise Morning Show where I did similar ad-libbing. Eventually, I turned that chapter into a free audio program called Life Changers that I gave away via our website. After a few years, I let the website expire for this project, but I may release them in some capacity via Rosary Army’s new School of Mary project we hope to launch this year.

As we begin this new year, the following occurred to me:

A) This is still a good idea
B) I wonder if these same ideas are applicable ten years later
C) Would I add to or change any of the previous suggestions?

Again, this was always intended as a list of suggestions and not a recipe for success. My hope is that people would begin to see how easy it is to take incremental steps to know, live and share the faith and come up with their own brainstormed list.

So to satisfy my own curiosity, below I share the original list of ways to know your faith, along with a few bits of commentary from today (I’ll put those in footnotes form).

Like this topic? Let me know in the comments and if there’s enough interest, perhaps over the next couple of weeks I’ll share the lists of 52 ways to live your faith and 52 ways to share your faith.

But for now:

52 Ideas To Know Your Faith

  1. Pick one book of the Bible and read it all the way through at least once. Start with a shorter book such as James or the Gospel of Mark. If you want a deeper dive into Mark’s Gospel, Mary Healy’s commentary is top-notch. I just purchased the Catholic Commentary on Scripture’s commentary on John’s Gospel and plan on going through that during Lent.
  2. Read John Chapter 6.
  3. Use the Index of Citations in the back of the Catechism to see what the Church teaches about the daily Mass readings this week.
    We explain how this works in the first episode we ever recorded of the Catechism Class podcast..
  4. Find out what the 16 documents were to come from Vatican II.
  5. Read Paragraphs 1420-1498 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church about Penance.
  6. Read Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI.
  7. Watch any episode (or all of them) of “That Catholic Show” at www.ThatCatholicShow.com. These episodes have started to look very dated, especially since Jennifer’s hair is now completely silver, we have an almost 14-year-old daughter born after we filmed these, and all of our boys are well over 6-feet-tall now.
  8. Read any book by Louis de Wohl, author of awesome Catholic historical novels that will give you a greater appreciation for various saints. I’ve been recommending this author for years. His book on Augustine is probably my favorite.
  9. Find a local Catholic radio station or satellite channel and listen to only that when you’re in your car.
  10. Visit a Catholic bookstore. Before you arrive, ask God to point out a book He may want you to read.
  11. Search for “Catholic” in iTunes and download and listen to some Catholic podcasts (we have several titles, including our show, “The Catholics Next Door”, that you can listen from Rosary Army. Since then, our podcasts moved over to GregandJennifer.com, but will be moving back under Rosary Army’s website umbrella in the next few months. They’re all available wherever you get podcasts. Search for “Rosary Army” and “Greg and Jennifer Willits” and you’ll find plenty.
  12. Go listen to a Catholic speaker. Or just look for them on YouTube.
  13. Read any one of the 16 documents from Vatican II.
  14. Go to Zenit.org and read news about the Catholic Church every day (you can also subscribe to their e-newsletter and automatically receive it in your inbox each day). I actually kind of forgot about Zenit (sorry, Zenit folks). I tend to use New Advent as my first stop for news. In-depth stuff I like The Pillar and National Catholic Register.
  15. Find the Scripture passages that correspond with each mystery of the Rosary and underline or mark it in your Bible with “1st Joyful Mystery,” “Second Joyful Mystery,” etc. You can find corresponding Scripture references for the Rosary on Rosary Army’s site here
  16. Choose a book to help you read through the Bible. I highly recommend “Walking With God” by Tim Grey and Jeff Cavins as well as “Bible Basics for Catholics: A New Picture of Salvation History” by John Bergsma. Walking with God is a precursor to Fr. Mike Schmitz’s Bible in a Year, and is a narrative form of the Great Bible Adventure series. Walking with God is still one of my favorite overviews of Salvation History.
  17. Get a copy of “Life of Christ” by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen. Take your time reading it. Read just one chapter this week and ponder it. One of the best books I’ve ever read. I regularly pull this out during Lent and start over.
  18. Find a book on Church history, and marvel at the fact that Catholicism has been around for over 2,000 years. I highly recommend “Epic: A Journey Through Church History” (DVD series) or “Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church” by H.W. Crocker III (Three Rivers Press, 2003).
  19. Subscribe to Catholic magazines and newspapers and actually read them. Just the other day I received an unexpected copy of The Traditionalist magazine and was thrilled to have an actual new magazine to read through.
  20. Attend a Seek Conference, Theology on Tap, Eucharistic Congress, or Catholic Conference. If one isn’t happening in your area any time soon, plan ahead to make sure you won’t miss one when it does. [efn_note]Stupid Coronavirus knocked a lot of these kinds of events off the radar.[/efn_note]
  21. Learn how to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
  22. Learn about Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary. Again, we’ll be doing a lot of Total Consecration stuff this year with Rosary Army’s new School of Mary initiative.
  23. Make an investment in Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism DVD series and watch it.
  24. Purchase and read a chapter from “Catholicism for Dummies.” Awesome. Book.
  25. Buy the annual Catholic Almanac from Our Sunday Visitor and be amazed at the awesomeness of Catholicism throughout each year. Ironically, not only did OSV quit publishing this, but I ended up working there for a couple of years as editorial director. Not the best experience, but God in his greatness has led us to greener pastures once more, and allowed us to put our full focus on Rosary Army!
  26. Buy tabs for your Catechism, install them, and use them (available from the Coming Home Network).
  27. Memorize the Memorare and pray it regularly.
  28. Watch Catholic television. Both EWTN as well The CatholicTV Network are available on cable, satellite, the Internet, and ROKU boxes.
  29. Download and read Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical letter, Deus Caritas Est. I’m so glad I included this way back when, especially as we prepare for his funeral this week. Pray for us, Papa Benedict!
  30. Get a Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read and pray about one question each day.
  31. Pick one line of Scripture, memorize it chapter and verse, and practice it throughout the week.
  32. Read Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter on the Rosary, Rosarium Virginis Mariae where he added the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary and provided insight into praying the Rosary in the modern world.
  33. Brush up on the Ten Commandments using the Catechism (start by reading paragraphs 2052-2082).
  34. Learn how to use RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds and start subscribing to (and reading) Catholic blogs and news services. Subscribing is free, and is basically a way to get all of the blog and news content you one in one place without having to go to multiple websites for the same content. Start by subscribing to the New Evangelizers blog at http://newevangelizers.com/feed. This tech is sort of obsolete now. I miss RSS Readers. 🙁
  35. Look online to find information about the patron saint of your home parish.
  36. Take time to read the section about Baptism in the Catechism and ponder the importance of your own baptism and your call to discipleship in today’s world. If you were baptized as an infant like many of us cradle Catholics, perhaps there’s something new to learn about this important sacrament that continues to affect each of us throughout our lives.
  37. Read Dei Verbum from Vatican II (available on Vatican’s website) to have a better understanding of Scripture and Divine Revelation.
  38. Start bringing your Bible to Mass with you.
  39. Every week, look up the Holy Father’s Wednesday audience online and read through his weekly statement.
  40. Read the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke to have a better appreciation of Mary’s role in Jesus’ life, and how you might emulate her willingness to serve.
  41. Look up Redemptoris Missio and read it to have a stronger understanding of the missionary role of the Catholic Church and your role in that mission.
  42. Watch a religious movie about a saint or important time in the Church such as Paul VI (Ignatius), For Greater Glory, or Passion of the Christ.
  43. Download and read the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ document, “Disciples Called to Witness” to better understand the New Evangelization.
  44. Get a book on the Theology of the Body and commit to reading at least a chapter a week.
  45. Get a copy of The Rosary Comic Book by Gene Yang and pray a Rosary while reading it. I promise you, it is one of the greatest Rosary books ever published. We have multiple copies in our house and everyone loves it.
  46. Get a better understanding of the Nicene Creed by reading the Catechism’s explanation of it.
  47. Get up 30 minutes early every day this week to spend extra time reading the Bible, the Catechism, or some other spiritual work.
  48. Find a Liturgical Calendar and pay attention to feast days, memorials, and seasons.
  49. Learn the meaning behind making the sign of the cross.
  50. Read a different Psalm every day while brushing your teeth. I’ve since started praying the Liturgy of the Hours every day and this definitely has made the Psalms a greater part of my life.
  51. Ask the Holy Spirit for Wisdom.
  52. Memorize the full genealogy of Jesus Christ in Matthew Chapter 1. (Just kidding. But take time to read it and see how many names you recognize from other parts of Scripture. And see how many you can actually pronounce correctly. Read them out loud to your friends and co-workers to grow in humility while you’re at it.)

And I’ll go ahead and add here at the bottom that while the New Evangelization hasn’t been discussed much in this recent papacy, the ideas put forth by John Paul II and Benedict XVI still have great value. If you’d like to read my book where I discuss some of these points, you can buy a copy here and I’ll sign and doodle in it just for you.