LOPEZ: What does it mean to be a “lay witness of the new evangelization,” and why would I want to be one?
PETERSON: As laity, we are called to share and spread the faith into the areas where God has placed us. For example, I am a board member of a Catholic group of CEOs called Legatus. In Legatus, we are “ambassadors of Christ,” sharing our faith in the business world where God has placed us.
The world is in need of healing, and we’ve learned what a mess we create when we try to do things without God’s grace and blessing. Humans can be truly inhumane when we live without God. But as laity, we are called to share Christ’s love, mercy, and compassion with our world to help it to improve. When we trust in God and do His will, we can change the world for the better. Our “EPIC” evangomercial shows how Catholics helped build Western civilization by starting universities, founding hospitals, feeding the poor, working to develop the scientific method, and educating countless children. This is our main mission and calling in life: to live and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a world in need of hope, faith, and love.
LOPEZ: Why is the mercy of Christ, which Pope Francis talked about in his first Angelus address, such an important and timely message?
PETERSON: We have all sinned against God and our neighbors, but Christ’s healing and compassionate mercy reconciles us and restores our relationship with God and others. We all are in need of Christ’s mercy, and once we receive it, we are called to show and share His healing mercy with others. This is the Christian life. Pope Francis lives this message of compassion, humility, and mercy. The world is so attracted to him because he exudes the Holy Spirit in modeling Christ to the world.
LOPEZ: What does the Holy Spirit have to do with GPS?
PETERSON: The Holy Spirit is our advocate and guide. Just like a GPS in your car, the Holy Spirit serves as our GPS to guide our route to safety, to Heaven. But you and I need to turn on the GPS, need to call upon the Holy Spirit to guide our way. If we rely on our own thinking, we often end up making wrong turns or end up in a spiritual ditch.
LOPEZ: What do you mean when you say, “I was addicted to the sense of power that security and control brought me”?
PETERSON: The lures of the world often lead us into lives of mediocrity. We can get desensitized, and begin to want more and more of what the world offers, straying from the greatest good that God offers. Without realizing it, I became addicted to business power, wealth, and the control that came to me as a successful executive. I became selfish and strayed off the path of faith. We all are looking for happiness and trying to find love in the wrong places. As St. Augustine described so well, our hearts are restless until they rest in God.
LOPEZ: What does it mean to you that only one out of every four Catholics regularly attends even weekly Mass?
PETERSON: According to recent CARA and Pew studies, only a fraction of the 1.2 billion baptized Catholics worldwide actually attend Mass every Sunday. To me, this shows how the apparent glitter and glamour of the world have captured our attention and lured us away from God. We are failing to “keep holy the Sabbath,” as the commandment instructs, when we can’t even worship God and thank Him for all He has done for us, even for just one hour on Sundays.
LOPEZ: How do Catholics come to have some confidence in their faith? To truly know it? To have the courage to live it?
PETERSON: Living the Catholic faith begins with reconciliation. We serve a God of second chances, actually a God of unlimited second chances. The sacramental graces and mercy found in the confessional are often the best means of starting over, heading back home. We are all prodigal sons and daughters who need to come home to the loving arms of God, Our Father. With regular and frequent participation in Mass (weekly yes, but also even daily), receiving Holy Communion in a state of grace, praying the Rosary, reading the Bible and good Catholic books, regularly partaking in Eucharistic adoration, fasting, and doing works of mercy for others, we grow in our faith. We begin to emulate Christ in the world. As Pope John Paul II said, “Be not afraid,” for as Scripture confirms, with God all things are possible. At first it takes a bit of courage to live as Christ commands because the world will ridicule you. But over time, we begin to realize the joy that comes from knowing, loving, and serving God and nothing in this world can fill our hearts the way Christ truly can. Over time, we come to realize we are not servants of Jesus Christ, but are brothers and sisters in Christ, adopted sons and daughters of our loving Father.
LOPEZ: You quote Pope Benedict at the end of one of your chapters: “If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful, and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed.” How do we truly live that?
PETERSON: We do this by turning away from the burden of sin, trusting God, and living in His holy will. When we do this, the adventure truly begins, our eyes and hearts are opened, and we find true purpose, fulfillment, and happiness in life.