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.