“I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes (to the nations).” —Pope John Paul II

The task of being Catholic and Christian is sometimes a daunting one. We're required to love our enemies, protect life and preserve truth. In addition, we are asked to make sure others know we are Christians by our love (John 13:35). We've all heard about it and I suspect that all of us, regardless of our ecclesiastical stripe, ultimately agree that we ought to. But the question still remains, what exactly are we to do when we evangelize our brother and sister “gentes?”

I've listed herein 13 things for Christians to do to evangelize themselves and others. Consider them in recreating and renewing your life in Christ:

1. Pray the Stations of the Cross. Most parishes will offer an opportunity to pray the Stations of the Cross, especially on Fridays during Lent. Accept this opportunity God is offering you to learn more about the faith and about your own spiritual lacunae.

2. Join a lay Christian association. Consider joining a lay Catholic association. Opus Dei, Communion and Liberation, Third-Order Franciscans, Focolare, San Egidio, Neo-Catechumenate and the Knights of Columbus are only a few of the lay associations available to the faithful. Membership in them will help strengthen one's spirituality and will help build up the Body of Christ.

3. Count your blessings. Believing in God isn't sufficient. It's important only if you trust in Him and trusting Him means submitting to Him. Consider the blessings in your life and thank God for them. Be in Him and allow Him into your soul. By doing so, you'll be a light unto the world. (Matthew 5:14)

4. Seek out those in need. Christ told us, “You will always have poor people with you.” (Matthew 26:11) This was an admonition to always care for those less fortunate than ourselves. The poor are the Church's treasure. Let us be sure to treasure them also. (James 2:14-16)

5. Commit yourself to reading Scripture. Pope Benedict XVI has recently asked Christians to commit themselves to familiarizing themselves with Sacred Scripture. Bring the Bible into your daily prayer. It is, as the Catholic Catechism says, the primary source of our knowledge of God.

6. The Divine Office. It's fun. It's orthodox. It's traditional. Need I say more? For two millennia, Christians have paused several times every day to focus on God. It is the reason for the profound sanctity of many of the Church's saints. Seven times a day may be too much to ask for people who aren't nuns and monks but concentrating only on Morning and Evening Prayers is sufficient to awaken a new spirit of devotion in your heart.

7. Ecumenical and interfaith dialogue. Ecumenical and interfaith dialogue promotes peaceful understanding and tolerance and might lead to a spiritual awakening in those we engage. We want to impress non-Christians by how dedicated and loving we are. This is the best kind of evangelization available to us.

8. Be a peacemaker. Make peace with someone you think doesn't deserve any respect, forgiveness or a moment's worth of consideration. If not, what exactly did Christ mean when He said we were to forgive our enemies?

9. Read traditional Christian spiritual treatises. As Christians we are heir to a wondrous treasure of spiritual treatises designed to elucidate. Everything from Thomas Merton, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Pope John XXIII, St. Teresa of Ávila, Thomas à Kempis and St. John of the Cross. I always keep a copy of Thomas Merton's Seven-storey Mountain on hand to give to my friends. It's a great conversation-starter and has been known to work wonders on those curious about Christianity.

10. Support Christian agencies, schools and charities. There are thousands of Christian charities and other nonprofits around the world that need our help. EWTN, Christian newspapers, Catholic Answers, Catholic Charities, Caritas, Trocaire, CAFOD, Catholic Action and Catholic Worker all need our assistance and prayers as they help bring about the Kingdom of God on earth. Consider volunteering and financially supporting them in the good work they do.

11. Holy Hour. Eucharistic adoration is a part of every parish's spiritual life and one would be hard-pressed to find a single saint in all Heaven and Earth who didn't spend quiet time attending to the Lord upon His altar. Resolve to spend at least an hour to sit quietly before the BlessedSacrament. You will find yourself coming back again and again.

12. Adopt a retired nun, sister, brother, monk or priest. They've given their all to God and the Church. It's time we return the favor. If you can afford to donate money to a religious retirement center, that would be great but it would also be wonderful to spend time with the these elderly ministers who have given so much of themselves over the many decades of service to the Church. Remember who taught you how to read, write and pray and be sure to thank them.

13. St. Patrick's Day. One must wonder which is worse—St. Valentine's Day being loss to secular society or the loss of St. Patrick himself. The former is no longer seen as religious holiday as evidenced by the fact that most Westerners will not use St. Valentine's proper title. St. Patrick is always referred to by his proper title but, to our disgrace, St. Patrick's Day is no longer a holy day but instead associated with face painting, drunken revelry and excess. Worse still, it interrupts our Lenten observances. Time has come to retrieve and reconsecrate St. Patrick's Day and make it our own again. We don't have to completely strip it of the fun but I think it would bring better honor to St. Patrick and ourselves as a community if the holiday wasn't associated with excessive drinking.

This list is neither definitive nor complete. It is simply a list of ideas for small-scale evangelization. I welcome all Christians to consider this list and take away what they will. Our principle concern as Christian evangelizers and apologists is that evangelization begins first in one's hearts. It is there that God seeks to convert the converted. It is only then, when we are ready, that He sends us out among the nations. When we evangelize, we announce to the world that Christianity is vibrant, effective and faithful. We do so because if we are alive in faith, we can't but help sharing that joy with others.