Thursday, February 9, 2012

Yes, We ARE Out to Convert People

A man arrives at the gates of heaven. St. Peter asks, "Religion?" The man says, "Methodist." St. Peter looks down his list, and says, "Go to room 24, but be
very quiet as you pass room 8."

Another man arrives at the gates of heaven. "Religion?" "Baptist."
"Go to room 18, but be very quiet as you pass room 8."

A third man arrives at the gates. "Religion?" "Jewish."
"Go to room 11, but be very quiet as you pass room 8."

The man says, "I can understand there being different rooms for different religions, but why must I be quiet when I pass room 8?"

St. Peter tells him, "Well, the Catholics are in room 8, and they think they're the only ones here.”

In writing about my letter to the editor of the local newspaper (“HSS Mandate: Write a Letter to the Editor”), I mentioned that a friend had emailed me about that letter, stating in part, “We will not stop OCare by spreading our doctrine, it is a turn-off to most people, we are not out to make converts…”

I had meant to address that little sentence, but forgot; I was reminded, though, by Anita’s comment, which said in part:

I think your friend…is wrong. In the first place, we ARE out to convert people: that was our mission statement from Jesus Himself, not to be improved upon by any bureaucratic parish committee: go out and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.


U.S. Catholics support birth control/contraception (Shutterstock)To be perfectly honest, I wrote the letter to the editor: a) primarily for Catholics who are using or have used contraception and should know better; b) for Catholics who are ignorant on that issue through no fault of their own; and c) for non-Catholics who might feel the stirring of the Holy Spirit when they read the truth in print in their local newspaper. I wrote the letter only secondarily for the purpose of motivating people to take action regarding the HSS mandate.

After all, which is more important: the salvation of souls, or the protection of Constitutional rights?

If, as Catholics, we’re “not out to make converts”, it means we’re not convinced of the Truth of our faith. It means we’ve bought the Protestant notion that each person can seek God in his or her own way, that professing a simple belief in Jesus as the Son of God means you are “saved”, and that “saved” Christians will go straight to Heaven when they die. It doesn’t work that way, and as Catholics, we should know that.

If more of us really believed our salvation depended on our belief in “all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches”, we would first of all practice our faith with greater fidelity; and second, we would want to help others come to an understanding of why it is a very good thing to be Catholic.

I came into the Catholic Church because of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I was willing to put up with the bad music and the wimpy homilies because I wanted Jesus, and I knew that the Real Presence was not in the grape juice and saltines handed out for the once-a-month communion in the Protestant church I attended.  I had read enough of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to be reasonably sure that there wasn’t anything I was going to object to. Only after being received into the Church did I discover the splendor of Her Truth, the depth of Her traditions, the magnificence of the extraordinary form of the Mass.

Only slowly did I come to realize that what the Bible says is true:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Catholicism is the narrow gate. It’s the fullness of the Truth. 

Anything “Christian” that is outside the Catholic Church is incomplete.

Sadly, I don’t think that the punch-line in the joke above holds true these days. I don’t think too many Catholics believe they are the only ones who can get to Heaven. Now, I’m not saying that Catholics are the only ones in Heaven; I am saying that it’s sad that more of us don’t, deep in our hearts, treasure the knowledge that we, as Catholics, have a lot better chance of getting there than do non-Catholic Christians.

Which we do.

Even the Vatican II document on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, notes that

…our separated brethren, whether considered as individuals or as communities and Churches, are not blessed with that unity which Jesus Christ wished to bestow on all those to whom he has given new birth into one body, and whom he has quickened to newness of life – that unity which the Holy scriptures and the ancient Tradition of the Church proclaim. For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help towards salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained… (paragraph 3; my emphases)

Michael Voris touched on this idea in his Vortex episode of February 7th. He’s been in Nigeria, where Protestant churches are numerous and filled with former Catholics. He notes that in one meeting:

We were emphatic about the need for Catholics to know their faith and evangelize like crazy. We pulled no punches about the deception that Protestantism represents. And as a side note…it absolutely IS a deception, because people are deceived about and therefore unable to receive the Body and Blood of Our Blessed Lord in Holy Communion. This isn’t about sparing people’s feelings; it’s about giving them every piece of knowledge they need to work out their own salvation.

 [Afterwards] a Pentecostal pastor… said he wanted to talk further because HE HAD LEARNED A LOT and THINGS HE DIDN’T KNOW before. Imagine: saying the truth in a bold and clear and above all CHARITABE way encouraged a Pentecostal minister to step up in great humility and gentleness and say that he wants to learn more.

Bottom line: some people may not like the way some things are said. But other people DO LISTEN when its put very plainly and want to know more; all you have to do is SAY it. And more to the point, if you are a baptized Catholic, you are commanded to say it. It’s called the first of spiritual works of mercy: instruct the ignorant. Go and teach all nations to observe everything I have commanded you. We have our marching orders: now get to it.

Here’s the video:

There’s also a good article on salvation by Fr. Erlenbush at The New Theological Movement.


  1. Brilliant post! The link to Fr. Erlenbush's article is broken though...

  2. Thanks, Georg. The link is now fixed.


Please be courteous and concise.