Sunday, January 31, 2010


Sometimes I hear people say that it is awfully arrogant for Catholics to believe they are part of the One True Church and that they are the only ones who have the Fullness of Truth.

Something I want to say to that is this:

It's not arrogant when you have been shown the truth and want to share it with others so that they can have what you have. It's not arrogant when you know that it is only by the Grace of God and not by your own merits that you have faith in the first place. It is not arrogant when you believe in something so strongly that all you want is to bring others to it so that they can feel the same joy and peace in your own heart.

It is only arrogant when you hoard it and keep it secret, saying "This is mine; I am better than you; you can't have what I have."

Don't be arrogant--share the faith!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

How (not) to Convert a Protestant

So I said I was going to write about this, and I finally found my notes, so here goes:

1. Pray.

2. Don't try to "win". Sometimes we can get so caught up in an argument that we just want to prove we are right. It becomes a selfish battle against the other person rather than an honest search for truth. Remember we are not fighting Protestants, we are trying to come together as Christians, as ONE church. As Bishop Fulton Sheen would say, "Win the argument, lose the soul."

3. Don't "trash other people's faith." Remember that because someone is Protestant doesn't mean they are on the wrong path. Don't look down on them or act like they know nothing. They are still part of the one Church, though in a less complete way. I remember listening to the Catholic apologist Tim Staples on Catholic Answers not long ago. A young Protestant woman was upset, thinking that the Catholic Church looked down on her as a Protestant and Catholics were arrogant in believing that only they were right. Mr. Staples, a convert, explained to her that he in no way looks back on his days in the Assembly of God as dismal days in which he was on the wrong path. On the contrary, he looks on them with fondness, seeing his time as a Protestant Christian as part of his early path towards the Fullness of Truth. She, also, was on the right track; she just needed to keep searching and she would find the Full Truth. Alex Jones, a Protestant preacher who recently came into the Catholic Church and brought his entire congregation with him said in an interview on Catholic Answers: "No, we don't trash people's faith, we don't try to proselytize them for their faith." Protestants do know the truth--they are Christians, and if they honestly continue searching they will find their way to fullness.

4. Preach by example. Alex Jones: "They don't need to hear preaching. They need someone who can share the love." Later in the interview: "Your life opens the door, your testimony, your walk before Christ opens the door for conversation and through conversation you can share Christ..." This applies not only to Protestants but also to those who do not know Christ at all. If we stay strong in our Catholic faith, don't hide it, and certainly don't compromise on any issues, then people will be curious. We must show others our passion for the faith. They will ask questions.

5. Answer questions honestly and without compromise. "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence" (1 Peter 3:15-16) Don't avoid conversations about faith so as "not to offend anyone". Proclaim the Truth!

6. Don't force it. God's ways are not our ways. Sometimes, especially in relationships, the fact that someone does not share the same Catholic faith can cause a lot of tension. But don't force anyone to convert or even look into the faith if she isn't ready. You may end up with someone who is just looking for flaws, for things to make her angry, and it becomes a stubborn battle. God will work in her heart when He and she are ready. When things get heated, it is best to leave it alone and cool it for a while. Sometimes there is only one thing you can do. Which brings me to the last:

7. Pray! God works on His own time, and He is the only one who can change hearts.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Wow, it's been way to long since I posted. I guess the hype of the holidays got to me. I feel like I have just gotten back into the swing of things.

I meant to write my next post on "How to Convert a Protestant" (although the content is not exactly what you may think), but I managed to leave my notes at work so I don't have the quotes I was going to share with you. Instead I think I will share an experience I had last weekend when I went to the wedding of a friend.

My friend got married on January 2nd. It was a full-fledged Catholic wedding and I was one of the readers. I was at the rehearsal and I sat next to one of my non-Catholic friends from college and her fiance. They had a keen eye on all that way happening at this wedding since they will be getting married in the near future. The man, let's call him Joe, started joking about how formal this wedding seemed to be and how his wedding would be a lot more fun with jokes being cracked, laughter, etc. It would be in a church he said, but without all the rules and formality. He went on to say that Catholic weddings were always so long so we were certainly in for the long haul. I laughed politely and said that I had had a Catholic wedding and it had been about an hour long. It was just a little different than Protestant weddings.

At one point the priest who was conducting the rehearsal made a point to mention that the confessional was open in the Cathedral if anyone wanted to make use of it during the rehearsal. Joe heard this and later made the comment that he would be afraid to be a part of this wedding because he would likely do something wrong and the priest would yell at him and send him to the box (confessional) to tell someone about it and sit in time-out. I began to get a little annoyed at this but tried to remain calm. I said something like "I don't think it would be that big of a deal if you were Catholic. It wouldn't seem so formal. The ceremony would be what you wanted." He shrugged at this and said, "I could never be Catholic. There are too many rules." I tried to be lighthearted about it saying, "Don't feel uncomfortable. No one will judge you." Then I caught myself with a laugh, "Well I can't promise no one will judge you but--" He cut me off saying, "Yeah, they're going to judge me. The priest will probably yell at me."

As annoyed as I was, I didn't say anything more. I was just frustrated that he was being so vocal about his disagreement while we sat in the Cathedral rehearsing this wedding he seemed to have so many issues about. But this was the first time I met him and I otherwise liked the guy. I thought perhaps he was just a jokester and didn't mean anything by it.

But what made me the most angry was one harsh comment. As the priest was explaining communion he mentioned that we would be having the Precious Blood at this wedding. From my left came the remark, "Ah, so it's the Vampire Religion."

I was angry, but yet again I kept my mouth shut. It was loud enough that the priest probably heard. How disrespectful, I thought. How can you sit in the Cathedral of a long-standing, well-respected faith tradition and so crassly mock it like that? At the time I thought it fortunate I had gone to the other side of the aisle to do my duties as the reader and could not rebuke him from so far away.

The next day, after the wedding and at the reception I found Joe again. I was pleasant after having a good meal and a glass of wine, and I joked with him saying, "It wasn't that bad, was it? The long wedding? Did you make it?" He joked back and the exchange was friendly. I had not wanted to offend him or make him feel unwelcome by challenging his rude comments. I wanted to remain a friend.

Looking back, however, I am not sure I acted appropriately. Acting as if his remarks were acceptable and not expressing my offense may have actually watered down his impression of my faith. Because I did not ask him to refrain from insulting comments, it made it seem that I did not really care very much about my faith traditions, and that I thought it was just another way to be Christian, equal to that of any other tradition. I failed to demonstrate my true passion about my faith, to show him that there was something in being Catholic that really did it for me, that went beyond the other Christian traditions. I failed to intrigue him with the powerful faith that burned inside me because of God's grace through the Catholic Church.

My Church, the Catholic Church, has the fullness of Truth and I am very passionate about it. That does not mean I should ever put down the Christian faith of others--there is certainly truth in their faith as well--but it does mean that I hope for Christ's Church to be One again someday. It is essential that I evangelize to others by showing a burning passion for Christ and His Church. While at the time I thought it best to be friendly to Joe and to not cause any conflict or discomfort, in reality I may have missed a very important opportunity.