Traveling to Ireland to speak at a large Divine Mercy Conference, Dr. Ralph Martin was also invited by a seminary in the Netherlands to lecture about the New Evangelization. After presenting to five hundred young adults and a group of Dominican seminarians in Ireland, on February 19, he was welcomed to Amsterdam by Rector Dr. Jeroen de Wit, a student from Dr. Martin’s STL summer program at Sacred Heart Major Seminary.
Dr. Martin conducted a study day at the seminary connected to the Marian Shrine, Onze Lieve Vrouw, Heiloo, Netherlands. More than one hundred people attended, including the two bishops from the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam. The four talks he gave throughout the day on the mission of the laity ranged from presenting the New Evangelization and what is new about it to the call to holiness and the power of the Holy Spirit.
The audience drew insights and inspiration through Dr. Martin’s presentation from quotes made by Popes and other ecclesiastical documents, as well as stories from Martin’s own life and those of the saints. Although the message was challenging, it was aided by Dr. Martin’s sense of humor.
“Dare to speak about your faith. Nothing awful can actually come from it. If the other person changes the topic of conversation, that is a subtle message that he or she is not interested. And you could survive that, right? But suppose someone responds with, 'Aha, a professing Christian! I have been searching for one!' And then he shoots you! This is the best possible outcome! Die a martyr, go right to heaven! No matter the outcome a Christian always wins,” Martin said.
Fielding questions from the group revealed evangelization in their parish could be “bitterly difficult” when applied to those who are “practically unbelieving.” Dr. Martin encouraged them to begin small, such as a group of three or four, covered in prayer, allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work.
He instructed them to learn from the holy “champions, the saints.” Martin reminded them of the fruits of making even small sacrifices, like St. Thérèse of Lisieux the Little Flower, who revealed the “Little Way” to heaven by seeking holiness in the ordinary and everyday circumstances of life. Like the saints, our work should flow from a radical reliance on God’s grace and his merciful love.
The message rallied a spirit of enthusiasm, and Dr. Martin expressed his belief that although Catholics remain a minority in Amsterdam, they are strengthened and encouraged by one another, and that the Holy Spirit has already been working hard in Holland.
Martin expressed how honored he was to work with international priests in the Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) in the New Evangelization, equipping them to reach an increasingly secularized culture.