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Monday 08 March |
Saint of the Day: St. John of God
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What’s the best way to tell someone about your faith?

Rev. C. John McCloskey - published on 01/18/13

You should also familiarize your friends with the richness of the history of the Church.  I would recommend Msgr. Philip Hughes’s Popular History of the Church for a short synopsis of Church history, and the first three volumes of the magisterial History of Christendom by Warren Carroll (Christendom College Press).  Carroll’s books read like novels, are painstakingly researched, and reveal the Church in all its heights and depths, in its saints and sinners.

An important part of our work of introducing our friends to the Faith will be exposing them to the beauty of the Catholic liturgy and to the art, literature, and music of Catholic inspiration. Accompanying them to the Holy Mass and other liturgical events, such as the celebration of solemn Benediction, a baptism, a wedding, the Easter Vigil, an episcopal consecration, or the ordination of new priests, or a Rosary-filled pilgrimage to a Shrine of the Virgin, will bring them to a deep appreciation of the incarnate aspect of our Faith and its sacramental nature. To listen to Gregorian Chant, today so strangely popular, or the great classical compositions centered on the Mass, the Psalms, or various events in the life of Christ and our Lady will also draw them closer to the heart of the Church. Listen with them to the great works of Mozart, Beethoven, Bruckner, and to the more contemporary Górecki and Messiaen for starters. Surely such beauty in music could only be inspired by the Truth.

For literary types, introduce them to the great Catholic authors, starting with Dante and continuing on down the centuries to Manzoni and Sienkiewicz in the last century, and to the Undsets, Waughs, O’Connors, Bernanos’, Mauriacs, and Endos of our own day. They will thus understand that the truth really does set us free, and who is more free than the artist who, bearing the standard of a faith-filled metaphysic, develops the expressive capacity to capture the divine in the human?

That said, let’s step back and take a realistic look at the situation: not all of your friends are going to be receptive to such a heavy "intellectual" approach. You may have to be much more selective in what you recommend to some of your friends: pamphlets rather than books, Catholic hymns rather than symphonies, a more contemporary (although sound) version of the New Testament rather than the Douay-Rheims, the stained glass in your parish church rather than the rose windows of Chartres. Listen to their questions, be attentive to their needs, and try to satisfy them. Spending time in prayer with them or visiting poor or elderly people may be much more influential in the process of their movement towards the Church than any possible reading you might give them.

Finally, let’s not forget the parish and the priest. After all, our friend will most probably spend the rest of life normally worshipping in a parish setting. If our friend has not been baptized, the Church normally asks that the budding catechumen be enrolled in the R.C.I.A. program (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) in his local parish, which will take him through a month by month program of initiation in the Church that typically culminates in Baptism during the Easter Vigil. (Hopefully, with you there as his godparent!) If he has been baptized, he will make his first confession and then receive the Sacrament of Confirmation and first Holy Communion within a Mass on Easter or at another time. It is useful and proper to establish a team approach in dealing with your friends; find a prayerful and zealous (they really are synonymous) priest with whom you can work and triangulate – in other words, by working together, you and the priest can offer your insights and wisdom, your prayer and sacrifice to your friend. The priest may be able, perhaps, to enter better into some personal areas through his sacramental role as a confessor.  He will also be able to advise you as to the best way and moment for your friend to be incorporated in the Church, taking careful notice of personal circumstances.

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