Monday, June 15, 2009

Moral Dilemmas

Last week, my grown son and his wife spent the night at our house. They parked their vehicle in the drive, and the next morning, I drove them to the airport.

They are spending the summer in California. They have completed a non-denominational course in mission work and are certified to share the good news of the Gospel with people of other faiths.

My son and his wife are not Catholic.

I had a moral dilemma. I'm driving these people I love very much to the airport, and they are going to hit the streets of California's cities, but I am not sure I agree with everything they are going to say.

Take for example, the possibility that they will "witness" to Catholics. What if their efforts actually pull poorly catechized Catholics away from the faith? I felt like I had to do something. I had to say something.

They made it clear that they had the ultimate goal of sharing with those of other faiths - Hindus, Muslims, atheists. They wanted to tell others about Jesus Christ, not impose a certain denomination upon them. I appreciated the fact that their number one goal was to share love, not argue. Meet people where they are, spiritually speaking. Engage them. Talk. Find common ground and see where things went from there.

"But if you encounter Catholics and it seems to you that they aren't really vibrant in their faith, be careful. Here's the thing. I don't know if Our Lord will bring you to the place where you want to be Catholic, but if He does, and if you have memories of sharing a 'form' of the Gospel that actually led people away from the Catholic Church, well you will have a pain in your heart that just won't go away."

I went on. "If you meet a Catholic and it doesn't seem - at least on the surface - that this person has a personal realtionship with Jesus Christ, this is what I want you to do. Remind him that Jesus Christ is waiting for him in the Mass. Remind him that his faith has always taught - for 2000 years - that the Eucharist really is Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity." That's when I told my son and daughter that the evangelical process of "asking Jesus into your heart" is a very small slice of what actually happens every time a Catholic receives the Eucharist. "When a Catholic receives the Eucharist, he receives all of Christ, and you do not want to be responsible for pulling him away from that most precious gift. Encourage him to reconcile with Jesus and go to Mass. Anything beyond that, and you will not be able to live with yourself if you ever become Catholic."

I don't remember very much of what we talked about after that. But it went well. No hard feelings - as far as I know. We each said what we needed to say. And they asked some questions and I gave them answers. (Questions on rote prayer and how repetitious it all seems to them and the Bible and how it actually came out of a Catholic Church Council.) We kissed one another at the departure gates, and I promised to pray for them.

Here's my crazy prayer. Wouldn't it be awesome if they meet some Catholics who are well-catechized and can eloquently defend their faith? What if they encounter gifted Catholics who defend the fullness of the faith with a zeal of St. Paul and the fidelity of a St. Peter? Wouldn't that be fantastic?

And so, if you are Catholic and in California (the LA area) be ready to give a defense of the faith to evangelists on your streets. One of them might be my son. And I promise to do the same wherever Christ leads me. Maybe I will encounter your son or daughter, brother or sister, husband or wife.

Each one, reach one. . .


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