Saturday, November 3, 2012

Talking to Family and Friends Who Have Left the Faith

I had an out of this world, awesome Friday night. No, I didn't go to a concert, or a bar (ick!), or even a movie. I went to a local parish to see Catholic apologetics speaker, Patrick Coffin. If you listen to Catholic Answers on the radio or the podcasts of the show on, you know who he is.

He discussed how to evangelize to friends and family who have left the church, a topic that I dearly need to study. I took notes, which I'm attempting to decipher. I'll give you some tidbits that he brought up and my thoughts on them:

Joan of Arc is quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

"About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they're just one thing, and we shouldn't complicate the matter." (That's pretty cool. Even while I was away from the Church, I loved this saint very much.)

Acts 15 shows how the early Church discussed the question of whether or not Gentile converts need to be circumcised. They couldn't go to the written word, because the Old Testament was the old covenant and Jesus brought in the new covenant. They couldn't go to the New Testament. Not only was it not compiled yet, there wasn't anything written down that addressed this question. What did they do?  They held a council in around 50A.D. to figure out the will of God. "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us..." (You can look up the whole quote. Probably good to read all of Acts 15.)

Today, the Church Magisterium still meets to figure out the will of God. For the Church is the Body of Christ. (See 1 Corinthians12:27).

Christ didn't address many issues that our salvation hinges on. For instance, he didn't discuss human cloning or in vitro fertilization. Fortunately, Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to help the Church with such questions. He will be with us until the end of time.

The Greek word paradosis (tradition) pops up a lot in the Bible. For Jesus didn't write out the books of the Bible and hand them to Peter before ascending into Heaven. He taught word of mouth and by example. His followers did too. The Bible, the inspired Word of God, flowed out from this sacred tradition. We shouldn't separate The Bible from the Church, or the Church from Christ.

We are God's coworkers. (Wow, that's a big responsibility and makes me want to work hard at the job.)

Thomas Aquinas said "Whatever is received is received according to the mode of the receiver." (Now I want to jump back into my Aquinas, which I'd sadly abandoned.)

Patrick Coffin seems to admire Archbishop Fulton Sheen very much. One quote he mentioned stands out for me. "You can win the argument but lose the soul." (I might be slightly paraphrasing. Some of my notes are sketchy.)

Much of what Patrick Coffin said addressed discussing issues with Christians outside of the Catholic Church. Many of my friends and family are atheist or leaning toward neo-paganism. However the "You can win the argument but lose the soul" quote is something I should burn into my wee little mind.
I can get emotional discussing this stuff, which makes my brain freeze up. Patrick reminded us that, while discussing Jesus is very important, sometimes you must hold back a little in order to win over a soul. Let's circle back to Aquinas's quote about the mode of the receiver. It's probably not helpful go to into details about Transubstantiation with an atheist. They won't even acknowledge God's existence, let alone that God would offer Himself to us. You must meet her where she is with regards to discussion about God.

I hope you get a chance to attend a talk from one of the speakers from


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