Having returned to the Catholic Church, I want to share my passion about God and all I didn't know that I didn't know about the Catholic Faith the first time around. This is a Catholic centered blog about the faith, music, movies, books (especially fantasy), writing, and Catholic homeschooling in California.
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 Catholic.com, 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
"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