From Father Z.
Proselytize is a bad word these days.
A lot off people are rushing to say that the Holy Father’s Anglican Provisions is not a matter of sheep stealing or, as Card. Kaspar put it “fishing in the Anglican lake”.
Card. Kaspar was stupendously conspicuous at the press conference yesterday – by his absence.
Archbishop Nichols of Westminster said: “This is a response and not an initiative.”
I respond saying: If we open up the door, hang up the open sign, and turn on the lights, we are inviting people to come in.
No doubt there is a form of proselytizing that is unethical. I just don’t understand how proselytizing has come to have such ominous overtones. I don’t like the fact that many Protestant churches are made up of a large segment of ex-Catholics. But if you believe in Protestant theology and don’t go after Catholics than something is seriously wrong.
This seeming truce called ecumenism is often so pointless. In England it seems that the Anglican-Catholic dialog just meanders along. That it is Rome and not the local Bishops that seemed to be mostly involved with bringing the TAC to full communion with the CHurch. I am Catholic simply because I believe the faith to be true. I want all people to enjoy the fullness of truth and to be able to withdraw from the immense spiritual treasury of the Church.
Proselytizing has been a touch issue with the Orthodox churches and the Catholic Church has been pretty sensitive to this. I can at least understand this since Orthodox churches are true churches in the Catholic theological understanding. They have retained Apostolic succession and can validly celebrate all the sacraments. The Anglican church is a totally different situations since they have lost Apostolic succession and only have the two sacraments that all Protestant churches have. This idea of fishing in the Anglican lake is idiotic unless you don’t think you are bringing people to the fullness of the truth. It seems rather uncharitable to leave people alone just because they are in some Protestant denomination and you don’t want to be seen as poaching.
Though it seems that Catholics have often sucked at evangelization and reaching out. We needed the help of Our Lady of Guadalupe to get things rolling and of course it was the Holy Spirit that moved things along on Pentecost. Though this is true for all evangelization. It is this tippy-toe approach worried about everything except actual evangelizations that annoys me. We should be fishing in any pond where the fish are willing to bite if we are going to be fishers of men.
I’m a convert – 23 years and counting. When I first became Catholic I was a bit astonished that the local church, at least, was hiding it’s lamp under a bushel, and that the very liberal priest and nun at the parish where I was received were almost embarrassed by the thought of outreach and evangelization. Their approach (or lack thereof) was more a reflection, I came to learn, of their disdain for the Church they claimed to serve. We poor catechumens were at their mercy, not knowing that the pablum we were being fed did not accurately communicate the authentic Catholic Faith we were seeking. They chose to advocate rupture rather than continuity. If it weren’t for my move to a parish that many saw as ultraconservative (though unknown as such by me at the time) in our then liberal diocese, I doubt I would have remained Catholic and eventually mentor others by the grace of God into the Church.
There was and is a reason why the Lord chose a simple fisherman to lead the Church. If Saint Peter was anything like the men I grew up around, fisherman all, he would have been a strong willed, honest to the core, hard working, weather proof, love a good laugh kind of fellow who honoured friends by being generous to a fault and standing up for what is right.
More Catholics need to roll up their sleeves and own their responsibility to know and model the Faith, the Faith of countless martyrs who lived and died to make known the love and mercy of God found through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit as our advocate and guide, and with His Presence one knows deep and abiding joy. It is said that one learns by teaching. Ask any teacher who has been asked to teach a subject area that is perhaps not their first subject area. One learns by having to communicate to others the content of the Faith, by sharing one’s faith in and relationship with the Lord.
So, let’s get on with inviting others to love and know the beauty of the Church that Jesus has given us.