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How Being a Baptist Prepared Me to be a Good Catholic (IV of IV)

August 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Conversion, Paul McCusker

Life, As I Find It

In my last few posts I mentioned that love for the Bible, for the church, for prayer and chicken casseroles were a few things I learned as a Baptist, each playing an important part in my life as a Catholic. Well, not so much the chicken casseroles. As Catholic, I think it’s been more about donuts and pizza.

The last thing I have to mention in this crazy series is the Baptist emphasis on evangelism. In the list of things a Baptist had to do, leading other people to Jesus – witnessing, sharing the Gospel — was huge. It was so huge, in fact, that every church service presented an opportunity to do it. If the Catholic Mass was centered around the Eucharist, the Baptist worship service was centered around preaching the Word so people would ask Jesus into their hearts (or rededicate their lives to the Lord).

As a member of our Baptist church, I was expected to witness to anyone and everyone about Jesus every chance I had. And I often did. You can ask some of my friends about it. I preached, passed out “Chick Tracts” at school, went through the “Four Spiritual Laws” booklet with anyone who’d listen, and even went door-to-door with members of the Pastoral staff using a well-tuned program called “Evangelism Explosion” to tell people about Jesus. I’m astonished to think of it now. The sheer audacity would be completely unacceptable these days.

It’s a puzzler, now, that the Catholic Church has been called to the New Evangelization – and no one seems to know what to do.

I have a couple of theories about that. For one thing, my Baptist Church had a great set-up evangelistically. If I witnessed to someone about Jesus, I could always invite him to a church service. Since the service itself was geared to evangelism, the person I invited was given a chance there to become a Christian. And the offer to “ask Jesus into your heart” is so simple. Anyone can do that. Technically speaking, according to some Protestant teaching, a person can do it and never even go back to church.

Catholics don’t have that advantage. Invite someone to a Catholic Mass and that poor person would be so confused by the liturgy that there’d be no chance to “bring them to Jesus.” They’d be out the door faster than most of the Catholics, if they use their elbows to get through the quickly-exiting crowd. The Catholic Mass is not evangelistically-friendly.

I’m not advocating that it should be, by the way. I’m not sure, historically, when Church went from a meeting of believers to being an evangelistic tool, and I’m not sure it should be. But it has in the Protestant realm – which gives Protestants an edge. That’s another conversation for another time.

Let’s admit the obvious: Catholicism isn’t as conducive to evangelism as Protestantism. A Protestant church – certainly my Baptist church – is focused on getting people to ask Jesus into their hearts, and all that stuff about discipleship and commitment could come later, if at all. When a person is “saved by Grace alone,” all those “works” aren’t really important, so why muddle things up be mentioning them? The important thing was to close the sale and worry about the fine-print some other time.

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, puts all of the fine-print in front of people before they’re allowed to become Catholic. It’s like going through the detailed contract for a house before you ever let someone into the house. So, guess what? In this consumer-based, turn-it-around-quick society, the Catholic Church is going to lose a lot of people to other churches. As usual, the Catholic Church and its teaching is at odds with all the best marketing sensibilities. Come to think of it, so was Jesus. He repeatedly asked people to count the cost and pick up their crosses. That was a bad move evangelistically.

No wonder the average Catholic hears a phrase like “New Evangelization” and looks like they’d just read the terms and conditions for a Microsoft product. Bewilderment – panic – lethargy – what’s a Catholic to do? As a Baptist, a phrase like “New Evangelization” would have meant someone had published a new tract.

Now that I’m a Catholic, I am still passionate about evangelism. I’m simply not sure how to do it, except to make the effort to talk about my journey or correct the many misconceptions people have about the Church. That’s a form of evangelizing I’m excited about. And, for that, I can thank my Baptist church.

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Art for this post on How Being a Baptist Prepared Me to Be a Good Catholic (Part IV of IV): Sakramentskirken Copenhagen lectern, photographed by lb Rasmussen, 10 October 2008, PD-Worldwide, Wikimedia Commons.

 

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About Paul McCusker

Paul McCusker is an author. He converted from Evangelical Protestantism to Catholicism in 2007. He still works for an Evangelical organization. Paul has over 40 published works, including novels, plays, scripts, and lyrics.

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  • Camila

    Thanks Paul. Your post reminds me of when we were invited to the “blessing” of my sister’s children. I sat down with my sister and her husband and tried to explain the importance of baptism and how a blessing just simply isn’t going to be efficacious as a baptism. I was kind and gentle and tried to explain the effects of baptism, its indelible mark, all to no avail. Paul, I almost lost my relationship with my sister. How dare I proselytize them to the Catholic faith! I wasn’t sure what would have been the best approach…. should I have remained silent for the sake of not disturbing the relationship?

    I am not comfortable with evangelizing cold turkey. In my recent studies I’m realizing just how much our Catholic faith is in perfect union with good reason. If we humans were to use the natural light of reason to guide our decisions we would reach conclusions on moral decisions that are in perfect line with Catholic teaching. A discussion of the Catholic faith NECESSARILY entails a discussion on moral laws – and I think THAT’S where folks outside the church that KNOW the high standards of the Church’s moral teaching come shy.

    I would like to offer an idea that perhaps only when Catholics fully and with utter joy embrace their crosses are we going to be truly effective evangelizers. Why? Because it is the truth that sets us free, if we are free, we must be full of joy! We must. Folks should be asking “How in the world do Catholics who live by such difficult moral standards are so full of joy and have so much to give the world?” How? – good question. The world sees what the Catholic Church asks and says “no way, I can’t possibly be happy that way” but truth be told – they are the ones enslaved to a world of sin. They simply CAN’T be happy, truly happy. We can. Are we?

    • I love your idea of joy! That does seem to be the best way to evangelize! Especially in a world of people who are constantly seeking happiness, people would gravitate to our faith if they knew it would bring them joy!

    • MaryofSharon

      You are so right! I’ve been thinking exactly same thing. An excellent example of what you are talking about would be an issue for which, the Catholic Church has been taking a lot of heat. The witness of Catholics with the cross of same-sex attraction who actually love the teaching of the Church and have found true freedom, joy, and peace right in the center of the heart and mind of the Church is vital. The world tells them that the Church hates them and wants to them to live lonely, repressed lives. Just the opposite is true! The lights of these men shine brightly!

      Here are just a few examples:

      “How Dan’s journey led him to the Catholic Church” http://www.dioceseoflansing.org/how_dans_faith_journey_led_him_to_the_catholic_church
      “I became Catholic because of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, because I view it as freedom, where joy resides, and I want to share that with other people….I want to be a voice that says, ‘Wait a minute. The Church’s teaching is good news. On every level.’ It’s motivated by God’s love for us.”

      “I am not Gay, I’m David”
      http://www.cuf.org/2011/01/i-am-not-gay-i-am-david/

      “Out of the Closet and into Chastity”
      http://catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/ho0001.html

      “Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine”
      http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/07/gay-catholic-and-doing-fine.html (The Church does not use the word “gay” to describe the condition of being attracted to the same sex. See “Steve’s” explanation of his use of the word at http://www.stevegershom.com/about/)

  • I don’t know much about how to contribute to the New Evangelization. I tried to start a blog, but with schoolwork and my internship, I’ve had difficulty keeping it up. I post and share religious articles and picture on Facebook. But few seem to notice them.

    Among my college friends though, literature and films seem to be the best way to evangelize. Tolkein, Les Miserables, C S Lewis etc. We were all literature/philosophy, creative writing or visual arts students, so this approach seems to work best! Not explicit evangelizing, but I’m happy to see that they such big “Lord of the Rings” fans even if one is agnostic and the other is atheist. 🙂 Hope!

    • clare

      MarytheDefender,
      I am following your comments via disque,
      I am a Catholic Evangelist,
      I do not have the space to tell you what I do and the many opportunities open for Catholic Evangelization,
      But I can tell you it starts right with in your own Catholic Church first,
      We must Evangelization ourselves before we go out into the Community,
      and there are many opportunities to do so,
      but know, I attend Catholic Church in the rural South, metro population of
      75,000 and the dominate religion here is—Baptist, yet,
      opportunities and Ministries for Evangelization abound!
      Blessings,
      ‘clare’

      • Thank you for the reply!
        I’ve been reading Fr. Barron’s “Catholicism” so I guess that’s how I’m evangelizing myself. I serve at Mass in my law school not my parish. So I guess that would be my community. Most people here are culturally Catholic. Most grew up with Catechism and know the basic tenets of the faith. And many still attend Sunday Mass but few are sincerely trying to live out their faith.
        Law school isn’t exactly the most faithful place. There are probably a lot of opportunities here too! But I’m not sure how to recognize one or what to do exactly. Do I just talk to people about God? It’s easier to talk to people who actually live their faith. But what about those that don’t? They’re the ones that need evangelizing more right?

        • clare

          Well, it ALL BEGINS with small steps! We started “Sunday School” yep! just like the Non-Catholics- it takes place in between the two Masses we have on Sunday. 1st thing we took- Catholic Apologetics- knowing how to speak and defend your Faith.
          Next we have been Studying the HHS Mandate- Obama’s Healthcare Initiative and how this affects THE CONSTITUTION-and OUR CATHOLIC FAITH. Our Sunday School Leader is a Lawyer.
          His presentations are always given with a Lawyer’s thought! So after study, could your Catholic group have a symposium on campus and Invite Different and Opposing views ( not in a Hostile Environment) of the Mandate? At least the Law students will be exposed to the Catholic Viewpoint of the Mandate and the Constitution, if nothing else you all can Evangelize yourselves on it. Evangelization always begins with the Worshiping Catholic Community and then spreads out to others,
          We have 6 Sunday School classes in a very Small Parish- 80 to 120 participate- it has Evangelized us!
          Catholics now participate more in Parish Life- there’s a place to take your RCIA Candidate and Mentor afterwards- many non-catholics are invited- there’s a good place for the Non-Catholic spouse to come in contact with Catholics -many have joined the Catholic Church, having met with fellowship. You can invite someone to Mass and you can also invite someone to Sunday School-Ist perhaps, then Mass- fellowship, When they go into Mass, they already know a group of Catholics- they feel more comfortable! Pope Francis recently call for Fraternity among the Believers, I fully understand this.
          This is one of many,programs we have started at St. Mary’s for Evangelization
          Blessings,
          ‘clare’

          • Joan

            Clare, maybe what our church needs is a Catholic Apologetics seminar to start the process. Thanks for that idea.

            How does one start the ball rolling in trying to evangelize someone who isn’t interested in going to church, and who get annoyed if you start to even mention God ??

          • clare

            When you start to study Catholic Apologetics -there are the answers for you to begin. We were very enriched at Sunday School Class by Scott Hann’s (spelling?) Book on Catholic Apologetics. Why? oh we didn’t feel re-energized, or re-newed,- no we felt-re-learned! How we had forgotten so many teaching our Catholic Faith and HOW to explain them!! We were ones- definitely Evangelized!
            Every Sunday School Class we read and discuss what Pope Francis is saying- we usually get this from the National Catholic Reporter who has something by Pope Francis every day. Pope Francis says we must meet “in the Middle” – find “Common Ground” . Pope Francis says it is not a matter of ,”if we can” – He says”we must”! It is there in your conversation with someone that you find that Common Ground- sometimes this is ALL you can find.
            Evangelization begins in the Parish Church- there is so much to do- in your own Church- once this happens you start to branch out to others who are not Catholic.
            In my 1st statement to MarytheDefender- most of what I said about Evangelization deal within the Parish Family- it starts there 1st. Last year I was an RCIA sponsor to a candidate who was an Atheist most all of her life-well I was in the Heart of Evangelization with this happening!
            Blessings,
            ‘clare’

          • LizEst

            Clare – There is much good in what you share from what is going on in your parish. However, I would caution you about the “National Catholic Reporter.” It is not a good source for solid Catholic reporting. I recommend instead the “National Catholic Register.” Notice that only the last word is different in both of these. The “National Catholic Register” is faithful to the Magisterium. This is the one to go to for faithful Catholic news. Our own Dan Burke is the executive director for the “National Catholic Register”: http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/author/daniel

          • clare

            Yes, sorry – it is the NCR – REGISTER that we use, most often.We do bring into class the Reporter – just to give our Apologetics skills a chance to work-thanks for clearing this up.
            What is the largest and fastest growing group of Christians in America? it is the Fallen away, Lapsed, attending other Denominations-Catholics! Evangelization starts right in your home Parish.Blessings “clare”

          • LizEst

            I’m so glad you are using the “Register”–thank you for clarifying this, Clare. God bless you!

          • clare

            Your Comment in using the Register and Reporter gives to me much thought. Even if I wasn’t using the Register,and was a Catholic who uses the Reporter, would you Love and Understand the Catholic in me anyway- try to meet me ‘In the Middle’, as Pope Francis says- In use of the Reporter over the Register,would you try to “Proselytize me or Evangelize me” , according to Pope Francis quoting Pope Benedict- there is a difference!,
            Blessing,
            ‘clare’

          • LizEst

            Not sure what you are saying here, clare. Are you asking me…or just philosophizing? Of course, we must love all people as God has so loved us no matter what disguise they present.

          • Those are great ideas! But here in the Philippines we don’t have RCIA because we have a predominantly Catholic population. Most people are reverts not converts.

            Sunday school sounds good! Here, parishes give Sunday school for children on Sunday mornings. But it would be better if adults are continually educated in their faith. Many people here, especially those who can’t afford Catholic or parochial schools barely know their faith. I don’t think I’m in a position to start an effort myself right now. I’m a student and not active in my parish. I don’t have time, my spiritual director told me I have too many activities as it is. But I have invited people to Mass, retreats, to join the campus ministry office in the law school etc.

            To be honest I’m not part of any particular religious group either. But God has blessed me with some great spiritual friends! We try to meet once a month.

            In the Philippines, the legal battle is over the Reproductive Health Law. It provides contraceptives to the poor and integrates sex education in public schools. The bishops have been fighting since it was proposed as a bill for over a decade. Parishes have given talks about the dangers, but people haven’t been receptive. I planning to do my Thesis on its unconstitutionality. Not enough people understand the legal aspects of this battle. It is difficult when something may be immoral but legal and “constitutional.” And contraception is harder to argue against legally than abortion. Abortion is still illegal here. So maybe my Thesis would be a good way I could help! 🙂

          • clare

            Dear Mary,
            If you have the Heart and Soul’s Desire for Evangelization then just give this to Blessed Mother- like in 33 Days-tell Mary to give this Desire to Her Son, Jesus, I can assure you, if you give your Will over to this, opportunities abound -that you never thought possible. There are few workers in this Field- trust me- you will be used!
            I always tell people that the Holy Spirit IS the Manifested , Tangible Presence of the Love Between The Father And The Son. The Holy Spirit is what you see, feel, touch, taste, the going, doing, the place- so
            Do not worry what you will say and how you will say it, Do not worry how and where you will be sent – the Holy Spirit makes this ALL possible, Trust,
            Today after Mass, in the Church Narthex, there were four, unexpected happenings for Evangelization as I was ready to go to Sunday School, I finally poured a cup of coffee and was late for Sunday School, again! Yes Jesus!
            Such a Sweet Sister in Christ I have found in You,Dear One,
            Blessings,
            ‘clare’
            ,

            ‘clare’

          • Thank you so much for all your kind words!
            I am reading “33 Days to Morning Glory” now for my consecration on September 8. I just finished 2nd week of St Kolbe when he talks about consecrating ourselves to Mary as her instruments and property.
            When you wrote “you will be used” it really touched me! I really, really want to be used! So very, very much! Reading that made me so happy! Thank you! Your loving words have been such a blessing to me! God Bless!

  • Stephen B. .

    As a Catholic convert from fundamentalist evangelical Christianity I’ve had this same dilemma. One thing that we need as Catholics is preparation (2 Tim.2:15). Then we need tools; cross and chain reference Bibles, Topical indexes and good concordances in the back of our Bibles, education on how to use these things, but most of all a genuine compassion for the lost (or mislead) soul coupled with a self-sacrificing zeal for serving God. But, of course, all of this is as hollow as an empty egg shell if our love for the Lord is tepid at best. If we are caught on fire with the love of God, the dry tender around us will explode into flame. I fear, as the new evangelism proceeds, that unprepared Catholics will be caught quite off guard when they encounter well prepared Protestants.

  • Michelle Ann Griffith

    I am a cradle Catholic and I completely agree with you! But, I also believe that the key to evangelization is to be so abandoned, so completely surrendered to the will of God that we can more easily hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit in what we are to do and what we are to say or when we are to be silent or when we are called to be victim souls and have a passive ministry for the conversion of souls. Personal holiness is the key to evangelization. Just one saint like St. Anthony or St. Teresa of Avila or St. Josemarie Escriva or St. John Vianney or Mother Teresa could convert entire communities, and impact nations for Christ just by their heroic witness. That’s my opinion, anyway.

  • Jeanette

    I am almost finished a book called, “Rediscover Catholicism” A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion & Purpose by Matthew Kelly. Myself and 14 others were given this book to review for one of our Deacons at St. Mark’s Church. He wants our opinion on the book to be used as an evangelism tool for our Church. Matthew Kelly has given away so many of these books in the US to parishes and you can purchase them for a nominal price for distribution in your own Church. In fact, on his website: http://www.DynamicCatholic.com you can order a book free and just pay shipping and handling.

    Our Deacon’s idea is to purchase enough books to give out in our parish this Christmas because that’s when the nominal Catholics come…as well as sometimes Easter. But, also, it will inspire the Catholics who regularly come to Church. If we can get this great book into their hands, hopefully, they will want to recommit themselves to their faith in Jesus Christ. That’s the plan. But first, we need to hold a Bake Sale or whatever we can to make the money to do so. I am so excited for this project as evangelism has been on my mind for our Church for a while now.

    We do need, as Matthew Kelly so eloquently says, to strive for personal holiness. That is the key. We need to become a prayerful people, a spiritual people, more so than we are now. When people think of Catholics, we want them to think we are a holy people! That’s the goal. I would encourage you to look into the Dynamic Catholic Book program…it may just be what your parish needs. I have nothing to do with his ministry, so please don’t get me wrong in that department. His book has inspired me to hope that we can revive holiness in our Catholic Churches and that we can entice others to want to be Catholic by our holy lives and witness. God bless!

    • LizEst

      What was the main thrust of his book? What did you find most attractive about it?

      • Jeanette

        Liz, this is a big book, 317 pages so it’s hard to say all I would want to say as there are many gems but I think the following from the book might help:

        “Eight hundred years ago, a young Italian man searching for meaning in his life went into a dilapidated old church and heard the voice of God speak to him: “Rebuild my church. As you can see it is in ruins.” If you and I listen carefully, I believe we will hear the same voice saying the same thing to our hearts today. Francis’s first response was to repair and rebuild a number of churches in and around Assisi, but the voice kept calling to him: “Francis, rebuild my Church. As you can see, it is in ruins.” Over the past 25 years, we have spent a lot of time, energy and money building and restoring the physical facilities of our churches. But the voice of God continues to call to us. Once again, God is saying, “Rebuild my Church,” and the rebuilding that needs to be done now is of a spiritual nature.”

        So, the book is about how to build up our Church spiritually. The style of his writing is easy to understand for anyone at any level and has been used as an evangelizing tool in many parishes. I hope that we will have much success in my own Church!

        • LizEst

          Thanks so much Jeannette. That helps. I like his reference to St. Francis. God bless you!

    • Paul McCusker

      Archbishop Chaput recently spoke in Colorado Springs and stated that the New Evangelization must start with ourselves. Individually and collectively we must nurture our relationships with Jesus. To poorly paraphrase: unless we are evangelizing as an expression of that relationship, then we’re just proselytizing for another cause or a club – and people get enough of those offers elsewhere, and often from people who can “sell it” better than we can 🙂

      • Jeanette

        I agree wholeheartedly Paul!

  • Phil Steinacker

    I’ve been reading this series all week and have been waiting for this installment, which I’ve read with interest.

    After reading it and the comments so far I’m very happy to be able to offer all of you something which has stirred a lot of excitement among nearly 70 people at my parish, which is still predominantly run by a progressive leadership but one which now must deal with an increasingly proactive conservative and traditionally-leaning membership.

    I recommend all of you go and buy as soon as you can at least one copy (and many more copies while possible) of Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus, by Sherry Weddell. You can buy it here: https://catalog.osv.com/lp.aspx?code=F35BBD63

    The price has been reduced for over two months from $15.95 plus tax/freight to $10 plus tax only. It was supposed to go back up Aug 1 but appears not to have occurred so far.

    For 15 years Weddell’s organization – the Catherine of Siena Institute – has been working in 105 dioceses on 5 continents to bring declining parishes around by setting them on fire. They do this by focusing as a first step on the necessity of bringing folks in the pews – and ALSO the parish leadership – into a personal relationship with Jesus – something Paul and other converts from Protestantism would be more comfortable with than most Catholic priests, deacons, and other parish leaders as well as even the most activist Catholics in the pews. Younger priests and priest active in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal tend to be an exception, of course.

    Weddell says trying to reach the folks we’re losing the most and the fastest with better catechesis at this point is a waste of time and only hastens the run to the exists because it fails to meet them where they are. I have long complained about the lack of proper formation and catechesis (and I also seek Benedict’s liturgical “reform of the reform”) but after reading Weddell’s book I must say she makes a compelling case that bringing Catholics to a personal commitment to intentional discipleship to Christ is the key first step to revitalization of the Catholic Church at the parish level.

    Get them to fall in love with Jesus, then get them to fall in love with His Church, and then you’ll find them more open to receive the quality catechesis and a restored liturgy only His Church can provide.

    Our very liberal pastor, deacon, and DRE are all reading FID, and the feedback has been pretty good – better than I expected so far, in fact. My guess is that they are as receptive as they seem because the parish has been bleeding members for 4-5 years straight, and even the progressives are getting scared that we’ve had to dip substantially into our reserve two years running. Our pastor is retiring in three years and he has declared his intention to leave the area, and so now our progressive, conservative, and traditional Catholics are unified in realizing the archdiocese will not assign another priest here if we continue to decline at this rate. Besides, with nearly 70 mostly conservative or traditional parishioners excited about the work of the Institute my hope is the potential increase in departures may lead them to hesitate before deciding against building on the buzz created by this book.

    Pretty serious, huh?

    So, believe me when I tell you that I am reasonably optimistic our parish will invite the Institute in for their Called and Gifted workshop to identify the Spirit-fed charisms of our parishioners for evangelizing leadership, and then their Forming Disciples workshop following that. If they fail to do this I’m leaving for an Ordinariate church, and so may be others. This is the best program I’ve seen, along with that of another group – the Augustine Institute – which offers follow-up discipleship programs. We’ve waited long enough, and don’t have a taste for sticking around as the parish dies on the vine (we’ve declined from 1200 families to about 700).

    In the meantime, you should check it out. You’ll love the book and the opportunities offered by the Institute as much as we do, I’m sure.

    BTW, a couple years ago we took up Matthew Kelly’s very generous program to distribute 200 copies of his same book (as mentioned by Jeanette) among our parishioners in a very creative program which had people handing off the book at the end of Mass each week to other folks they didn’t know. However, there is no program in that book upon which to build and our pastor and leadership failed to design or imagine a follow-up plan of action to capitalize on the buzz they succeeded in creating with the distribution of Rediscovering Catholicism.

    FID is different, because the Institute does offer solid plans of action with which to set your parish on fire.

    Major Blessings to your efforts!! Great series, Paul. Thanks!

    • Phil – I rarely let combox posts through that are this long but thought this one worthy of an exception. Sherry’s program is fantastic and life-changing.

    • Jeanette

      Phil, our Deacon who suggested Rediscovering Catholicism to be handed out in our Parish spoke to me about what we would do for a follow-up plan. He still needs to work on a plan of action for afterwards. Thanks for all your info!

  • Deborah Rentler

    “Catholics don’t have that advantage. Invite someone to a Catholic Mass and that poor person would be so confused by the liturgy that there’d be no chance to “bring them to Jesus.” They’d be out the door faster than most of the Catholics, if they use their elbows to get through the quickly-exiting crowd. The Catholic Mass is not evangelistically-friendly.” I completely disagree with you on this. The first time I went back to Mass after being away for 20 years, I was hooked. A friend of mine brought one of her ex-Catholic Evangelical friends to Daily Mass a couple weeks ago and she was very moved by it. Rich Mullins, (when challenged by the Evangelical “ministry” he was a part of because of his attendance at daily Mass) exclaimed “If you can provide a daily Protestant service with as much scripture reading as the Catholic Mass, I will go to that. In my experience as an Evangelical, what you term as an “evagelistically friendly services” were often high pressure sermons, coercive, manipulative alter calls compounded by emotionally charged music. An emotional experience in a Protestant service cannot hold a candle to the eternal benefits of life long conversion given to us through the Holy Eucharist and the Sacraments of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    • Paul McCusker

      Thank you, Deborah. I, too, was deeply moved and impacted by a very Catholic-type liturgical experience in an Anglican Church. I don’t deny its potential to draw people in. It is like entering a foreign country which, for some, can be a powerful experience while, for others, an alienating one. My main point was that, compared to the more “user-friendly” Protestant services which are often geared for overt evangelism, the Mass can be very confusing and intimidating.

  • connie

    I loved all four of your writings. I find that there is an opportunity in every turn in life and it prepares us for the journey ahead. I find that my fellow Christians, and non Christian friends all help me to be a better person and a better Christian. I love my Catholic faith, and once one of my protestant friends who is a pastor, asked me to consider joining his Church and his congregation. I told him that I could not, and he wouldn’t want me. I told him I was introduced to our Lord through the Catholic church, and I have seen his face through the Church many times, and I would never be able to turn my back on it. I also get puzzled by being told you don’t act Catholic. I never understood what that means. If one would truely listens and gets to know me…they would know without a doubt what my beliefs are. They also should know that i love seeing God in others, and I challenge myself to see him in all. There are many people that I always don’t see eye to eye with, but I find if I speak to God in them..it turns out to be a blessing. So thanks again for sharing your thoughts with us. I also agree that we need more adult education/ to continue to grow…Gods has so many gifts to share with us, if we just keep an open mind and continue to learn and grow.

  • Mary G

    Another book on this subject to consider is by George Weigel “Evangelical Catholicism. The premis of the book is that all Catholics, no matter what their station in life are called to live the evangelical vocation, into which they were called at baptism. Basically LIVING our Faith “without compromise”, but with joy, courage and confidence! And it makes me think of the quote attributed to St Francis, “Preach the Gospel and if necessary, use words!”

    • Dan Carollo

      Agreed. That’s a fantastic book, and a must-read for every Catholic.

  • Dan Carollo

    My experience of Catholic “evangelism” — is more like a slowly-burning ember, whereas the Protestant form of evangelism is more like a fire hose. — too often depending on the skills of a very enthusiastic, passionate speaker. But to the credit of my own Protestant formation — the thing that really brought me to the faith was the relationships, and the people willing to just talk to me about it. Evangelical Protestantism has always done a fantastic job at introducing people to Jesus — and I am forever grateful for that.
    But I’m a Catholic today (and remain ever more committed to Christ) because of the slowly-burning ember over the last 20 years of reading the great Catholic thinkers, meeting knowledgeable Catholics, attending the occasional mass, the draw of the sacraments, and being deeply impacted by the consistent, Catholic social teaching (so lacking among the fractured, dis-unified groups of Protestantism). In short — my Protestant environment started the ignition — but Catholicism was finally what kept the car from crashing, but rather moving forward again.
    Eventually — the beauty, goodness and truth of Catholicism finally sunk in. And when it finally did — it did NOT go away. (BTW: After reading Pope Francis “Evangelli Gaudium” (The Joy of The Gospel) — a must-read for any Catholic or Protestant — I’ve been more convinced of the truly evangelistic nature of Catholicism than ever before)

    • LizEst

      Thanks for your witness Dan. Wishing you a Blessed Holy Week, Triduum and Easter.

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