"You aim at a devout life, dear Philothea, because as a Christian you know that such devotion is most acceptable to God's Divine Majesty," says St. Francis de Sales in his book "Introduction to the Devout Life".
And we can all be Philotheas, as St. Francis notes: "I have made use of a name suitable to all who seek the devout life, Philothea meaning one who loves God."
The other day, my gaze fell on the back of a box of crackers
sitting on my kitchen counter. I read it:
It struck me that this
is the view many people hold as to what the Church should be today. Just delete "Townhouse" and insert "Catholic Church"; and of course "crackers" can describe many Catholics' view of the Eucharist, which tends not to include the Real Presence!
I had also just read a couple of articles at Munabor’s
Blog, and the pieces fell into place. (BTW…whenever you’re in the
mood to be reminded that the emperor has no clothes, just visit Mundabor.) I
found a couple of articles in which Mundabor discussed current concepts of “evangelization”.
this pluralistic situation, we have no other option than consciously
cultivating friendly relationships with all of them based on mutual respect and
understanding that eventually could lead to mutual collaboration for the common
good, for peace and harmony towards the development of the society. This is all
what interreligious dialogue is about: Being rooted in our own faith,
cultivating, despite differences, harmonious relationships among believers of
diverse religions and collaborating with them for the good of humanity with
shared values and convictions.”
Ah, yes, says Mundabor; we all know that Jesus said:
ye therefore, and dialogue with all nations, making friends among them and
collaborating with them in the name of humanity”.
Right? Well, no, those are
not exactly the words Our Lord used…
As Mundabor notes in his
post, the Cardinal seems to be saying that we just need to all be friends, and focus
on “collaboration” and “shared values and convictions”. Let’s not push
Catholicism! And strangely enough, this thought was expressed by our Holy
Father recently, when he said:
you need to convince the other to become Catholic? No, no, no! Go out and meet
him, he is your brother. This is enough. Go out and help him and Jesus will do
Huh?! I wonder what the
Christians in Egypt think about that idea. (See Mundabor for further
comments on the Pope’s remarks; it’s a post worth reading.)
Following right in step
with the dumbed-down version of Catholic evangelization (which seems to be
pretty much non-existent these days), there is an article from Catholic Culture
by Phil Lawler entitled “Does Your Parish
Really Welcome Converts?” Lawler
The first question, of course,
is whether you are ever approached by friends and acquaintances who are
interested in Catholicism. If you aren’t, maybe you’re hiding our lamp under a
Really? I’ve never
been approached, except when I was heading up the RCIA program at my parish. I
have not met too many people who are actually interested in becoming Catholic.
When I did meet one who was, I shared
the faith with him as completely as I could, but finally told him not to
become Catholic. Why? Because he wasn’t “buying” the whole package, including
the “core concepts” of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and Mary’s perpetual
Lawler then asks another question: “How do you respond to
someone who shows an interest in entering the Church?” Personally, I prefer the
phrase “received into the Church”, which puts a different spin on it, I think.
But then, it seems many don’t care for that spin. They want people to come into
the Church (or remain in it) on their own terms. Well…I don’t think it really
works that way.
He gives three examples of “how we respond to people at a
first meeting” (read the article for all the details), and sums it up by saying
…[a] warm reception should be
waiting for anyone who expresses an interest in the Catholic Church. Everyone
is welcome; there is no limit to the number of converts the Church can accept.
The screening process is minimal; the
only “qualification” is sincere faith.
Sincerely wrong? Absolutely.
Yes…and no. I don’t mean to completely discount everything
Lawler has to say. But still…how do you define “sincere faith”? My friend had
sincere faith, but he was sincerely wrong in what he chose to believe or not to
believe. Converts are required to profess their belief in stronger terms than
most cradle Catholics these days are willing to use: “I believe and profess all
that the holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by
God”. Converts are required to make this statement when they are received into
full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Frankly, I know way too many
Catholics who would not make that same profession, if they were being honest
Along those lines, I think about the reports of the “conversions
stories” that allegedly come out of World Youth Day. Looking at much of the
hoopla, liturgical abuses, and generally frivolous atmosphere, I have to wonder
exactly what they are converting to. Just sayin’.
What’s lacking in all of this is a sense of the
inevitability of death, the existence of Hell, and the strikingly unpopular
notion of “the one True Faith”. If we avoid telling people that the Catholic
Church is the only sure path to salvation, we have left out a very important
piece of information! But if we do
tell them the truth about our faith, with all the doctrine that is so unpopular
these days…well, who would join a Church with such stringent requirements!?! Obligatory Sunday Mass? Confession – to a priest?! No abortion ever, not even for the “life of the
mother” or in cases of incest? No artificial contraception???!!!! Puh-lease.
I guess that’s why we have Catholic-lite now. Make everyone
feel good, and get those who are gullible enough to become Catholic. Later,
spring the hard teachings of the Church on them. If they don’t agree, don’t
worry. They’ll be in the same boat as at least 80% of their fellow
parishioners. But at least they’ll be Catholic!
Yeah. Right. Back to my cracker box: "The Catholic Church. Where good times reside."