Friday, July 08, 2005


I feel a bit more alone than I did last week. Of my parents & brothers & sisters, of whom there are five in toto, I'm apparently the only "professional Catholic", that is, perhaps the only one who believes the church is The Church. And it saddens me and I feel a bit isolated. And a bit burdened by the responsibility to do something as well as keenly aware of my powerlessness and futility, having only apologetics. More praying needed, less apologetics. Certainly my reputation must've proceeded me because although I never bring up religion and my brother never does, he did this time. And so we went over the whole landscape. The issues:

Him: You really believe you have to confess your sins to a priest?
Me: Yes, for very serious sins. We are a sacramental church. (How does one begin to explain apostolic/sacramental church to this age? That priests have gifts beyond what can be seen?)

Him: Many Protestants believe the Eucharist is the body & blood too you know.
Me: Well they don't act like it. They don't have Eucharistic Adoration. They don't celebrate Communion daily.

Him: There is no such thing as Hell. There can't be infinite punishment for a finite sin.
Me: I'm very sympathetic. Right there with you. But we have no choice but to believe it, Jesus said Hell was real. Plus if there's no Hell, no free will. Instead of judging the Church by our opinions, why not judge our opinions by the Church?


Him: That's fine, I can't argue with you because I don't know all of that but you should talk to my inlaws. I would love to see that discussion. Because they would persuasively refute all of what you said. They don't believe a priest performs magic on the altar. Extremists always think they're right. You're just Catholic because you were born Catholic.

Me: Maybe I am Catholic because I was raised Catholic but that doesn't change the fact that it's either/or. Someone has to be right! Either the bread and wine during Communion become the Body & Blood of Christ, or not! You have to make a bet on what is true, not just say that because people believe completely different things then not take a stand- well that's where faith comes in. And faith is a gift, and it comes and goes...

Him: There's no teaching at Mass. At Baptist services they have an overhead projector and bibles and they really study.
Me: That's not the purpose. It's to worship although I do wish the homilies were much better. Teaching comes outside of the church service. We have bible studies at our church.

Him:Protestants know the bible forward and backward.
Me:Protestants aren't as well-educated as you think. Their view of history is that nothing happened between 100 A.D. and Martin Luther.And the Church came out of the bible, not the other way around. There was no bible for the first couple hundred years. Jesus made apostles, he didn't write scripture.

Him: At Baptist services they have great music and great instructional talks...
Me: Mass is not about what we can get out of it, but what we can give to God. It's not about being entertained with great music, but worshipping God.
Me: It comes down to whether you believe Christ intended a visible, physical church or just a spiritual one.
Him: Yes, that's a good point.


Him: I'm against abortion, I believe life begins at conception.
Me: Good, then you're against the birth control pill, because it's an abortificient.
Him: No it's not!...

• • • • •

You are being grilled, not by an honest seeker of understanding, but by a prosecuting attorney. I know, because I was one for quite some time in my young adulthood. I needed to be able to make intellectual peace with the issues, yes, but I also needed a true heart understanding of the relationship with God the Father that Jesus has made possible through his sacrifice. If the person you love with all your heart asks you to do something extraordinary, it is a joy rather than a burden to cooperate. But the love needs to come, and the Holy Spirit is the initiator and pursuer in that love relationship.

Don't despair. To all appearances, I stayed in my "fighting stance" until the very day I surrendered. My friends who had been trying to open the gospel to me were even more astonished than I was that I had, in the words of C.S. Lewis, been "dragged kicking and screaming into the kingdom of God." Be of good cheer.
Thanks Roz, you're right. I've seen more miraculous things happen then would his acceptance of the truth, so I'll 'be not afraid' as JP says.
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