Lent's Over, Back to the Trenches
During Lent, I attempted to be less polemic in my posts and tried to stay away from apologetics and focus more on the beauty of this Holy season and the opportunity the Church gives us through its devotional practices to grow closer to Christ. Well, Lent's over, back to the trenches.
On Saturday evening, before the Vigil Mass in which my one brother in-law entered the Church, my other brother in-law started asking me some questions about my recent conversion/reversion to Catholicism. I hadn't talked to him for over three years but he had heard that my wife and I were now Catholic. He was from an independent bible church and "got saved" in the Church of Christ sect about 20 years ago.
He asked if Catholics believe there is only one way to heaven since we worship Peter and Mary.
He then asked why we worship idols. I told him that Catholics worship the Triune God alone.
He insisted that we worship idols like Peter and Mary and said that Catholics "use them" to get to heaven. I tried my best to explain the Communion of Saints found in the Creed and using Scripture but he was dead set in explaining to me what Catholics believe. I told him in my three years of Catholicism I had yet to meet a Catholic who worshiped idols (I'll keep looking), or Peter or Mary for that matter. I explained the true meaning of the word "pray" and why Catholics believe we can ask other believers on the other side of the veil to intercede for them. He did admit that even though Jesus is the only mediator between God and man, he asked people to pray for him at times too. "It's just that Catholics agree with Revelation 8 that the saints in heaven continue to pray and their prayers are poured out before the throne of God" I told him. At that point, he said, I don't agree with that, and my wife (Prodigal Daughter) said , "we'll just have to agree to disagree."
I ended the discussion by telling him that many folks (like myself before conversion) don't understand Catholic teachings and oftentimes fight a battle against an opponent that doesn't exist! I tried as politely as possible to suggest that he try to read what Catholics teach about Catholicism rather than learning about Catholicism from anti-Catholic sources.
On a more positive note, his wife came to the Vigil Mass to watch her brother be confirmed and receive the Eucharist. The service was literally jam packed with Scripture and the only reference to Mary (our idol) was during the Litany (worship) of Saints when we ask their intercession for these new converts coming into the Church. What better group of people to ask for prayer from than those who are righteous and have been martyred for their faith and lead many to Christ in their lifetime here on earth. I don't know about you but the Litany of Saints always brings me to tears as I call to mind the long succession of those godly men and women who have gone before us in service and sacrifice to Christ and his Church. The entire Vigil mass is about the power of the risen Christ to bring light to the world and redeem fallen man from his sinfulness. It is all about God's grace and mercy as He reunites us to himself through Christ's death and resurrection applied to his people in Baptism, Confirmation and ultimately, the Eucharist. Just as it had been from the beginning of the early church.
Lord Jesus, you opened the eyes of the blind while here on earth. Open the eyes of those who have become blinded to your Church and give them vision to see the Church you designed for them to be a part of. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
I like to think that we all have a "Catholic Church-shaped hole" in our heart and will continue searching until we let Christ fill it with the Barc of Peter.