We must use words when we share the Good News. Our acts do not speak clearly until we give them voice, our voice.

One popular fake quote, falsely attributed to St. Francis, insists that we preach the Gospel always, and if necessary use words. It is easy to imagine an equally fake St. Dominic responding with a patient roll of the eyes: While this saying is possibly true — our lives must shine with the light of Christ — it is false if it is taken to mean we do not need to evangelize out loud. The Gospels say so, after all. As nearly as clearly as they proclaim the real threat of Hell, they implicitly say this: We need words.

This has a simple proof: Suppose your life were perfectly holy. Suppose you had no guilt of sin. Do you need to share the Gospel with words? Rephrase the question this way: If you were Mary, or John the Baptist, do you have any need to use words? Clearly, yes. Mary had her Magnificat, and John’s preaching kept Herod Agrippa in rapt attention. For that matter, was Christ’s example all He needed to preach His message? Glancing for a moment at the Sermon on the Mount, and the mountain of sayings, there is only one answer: Apparently not. If Christ’s life was not enough even for Him, the sinless Word Incarnate whose very death and Resurrection before thousands of witnesses contain the whole Paschal Mystery, why would it work for you? It isn’t as if his preaching was merely to set up the Resurrection — he lingered after the Resurrection for a full forty days.

Therefore: We must have words. These must include the explicit words of the Gospel, said with confidence. By the very examples of Mary, and John the Baptist, and Christ Himself, not to mention Peter and Paul and all the apostles, it is not enough to bring a man a casserole, nor even a Bible. It is not enough to bring a man ourselves. For if we will bring him Christ, we must bring Truth as much as the Way.


Every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Only, how are they to call upon him until they have learned to believe in him? And how are they to believe in him, until they listen to him? And how can they listen, without a preacher to listen to?
Epistle to the Romans, Ch. 10 

If anyone asks you to give an account of the hope you cherish, be ready at all times to answer for it, but courteously and with due reverence.
First Peter, Ch. 3

There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed.
Evangelii Nuntiandi, No. 22