August 22, 2019 ~ The New Evangelization in Ancient Territory


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The root meaning of “evangelize” means “to bring the Gospel ~ the good news.”

For many, “evangelize” carries negative connotations, both from personal experience and/or from the way history has been interpreted, whether accurately or inaccurately. At times, evangelizers have tried to impose their own or forbid others’ cultural customs on which the Gospel, itself, takes no position. At other times, injustices motivated by plain old greed and other age-old vices have been falsely justified by the Christian-speak du jour. It’s sadly common for nominal Christians not to let Christianity’s true tenets get in their way.

On the other hand, over the last two millennia, people from nearly every culture on Earth have heard and embraced the true Gospel message of Jesus Christ, living it within their cultures ~ sometimes unto death ~ in ways that not only do no harm but in fact elevate the general well-being of all.

Such was the case of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680), for whom many Catholic parishes are named, including a beautiful small mission church on an Indian reservation just north of here.

Not canonized but quietly revered in the Pacific Northwest is  “Madame” Marie Aioe Dorion (c. 1786-1850), a true heroine of the overland Astor Expedition group that set forth from Saint Louis, Missouri, in 1810. Explorers arrived battered, diminished, and even traumatized at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1812. After an adventurous life fraught with more than one tragedy, Marie and her third husband finally settled in Saint Louis, Oregon, in the French Prairie area of the Willamette Valley. There she continued to live with courage, neighborly kindness, and faith. Madame Dorion received the rare honor of being buried inside the original log Saint Louis Catholic Church. Today, a stone historic marker stands just outside the entry of the “new” little wooden church, built in 1880 when the log church burned down.

During the past few years, as an enrolled member of the Chinook Indian Nation, I’ve become more involved than before, with prayerful energy and action ~ partly because of my twin. As God’s Providence would arrange things, Leslie, who guest blogged here years ago, moved with her family back to Oregon in 2014. They live only 100 miles from here, in the Willamette Valley. She currently serves as grant liaison for the Chinook Indian Nation and, just this month, had a thoughtful and poignant article published in Oregon Humanities magazine.

I don’t know exactly what God has in mind with all of this ~ I never do ~ but I do know that Jesus, himself, asked us to pray:

“. . . Thy kingdom come

Thy will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven. . . .”

~ Sister Marie Ursula

Taking the Next Right Step