I thought of you when I read this from the Anchoress this morning:
“Recently there was a dust-up among some Catholics who wondered what exactly Pope Francis meant when he, during an interview with La Repubblica editor Eugenio Scalfari said that proselytizing was a solemn nonsense.
Clearly, what he meant was that preaching at people doesnt work; while being a reflection of Christ among us is powerful evangelization.
If anyone needed the proof of it, recall the ill-reception proselytizing Christians received in 2008, when instead of living and working within the community they wished to serve they drove in from a suburb a couple of times a week, and preached at gays in the Castro district. I wrote about it, back then:
The Christians at Castro need to remember that Jesus joined others in community. Excusing nothing, he loved others, even in all their faults and only when asked to he healed them. He never just said, Hey, Im going to whip a little faith on you, whether you want it or not.
I tried to be balanced in my piece, but the combox didnt like that. Oh, well. But no church is going to bring a reality of Christ to any community gay, straight, whatever if they are not living with that community; eating, working and sleeping there. Which is pretty much how the Catholic Church has always operated; how her priests and religious and layfolk have spread the Good News of salvation in Christ.
Its like Pope Francis has said: you cant evangelize from a bubble, a penthouse or from a seat in first class, as wonderful as it might be to try
That brings me to Father Michael Duffy, who has been a priest just a little over a year, and who, pondering a post by Andrew Sullivan, writes:
I spoke last evening with the confirmation kids at my parish. I told them the main reason that I became and active catholic and eventually a priest. Its because I fell in love not with an idea or an ideology or a bunch of rules. Its because I fell in love with Jesus. And falling in love with Jesus helped me to find myself. And eventually, falling in love with Jesus led to embracing the Churchs teachings. Not as burdens, but because they helped me to truly be myself, the best way possible. That I think is the reason Pope Francis said no to Proselytization. Because it doesnt work. Ours is a love story. And you cant force or convince someone to fall in love. Its all about the encounter.
Emphasis mine. Not bad; a priest for one year and hes already echoing Francis, and also Pope Benedict, both of whom like every iteration of Peter, through the ages have insisted that the encounter with Christ Jesus is primary and essential. If the encounter is real, and if it is then pursued and built upon, everything else follows.
And were to help each other work on the pursuit. Were supposed to pursue, together. Not beating each other up because some are more advanced while others are lagging behind, some are more immediate in their obedience while others seem to be taking a circuitous route. Were supposed to be in this together: One man helps another, one says to the other, Keep on! (Isaiah 40:6).
Thats why, when a group of gay Catholics wrote to Pope Francis, he wrote back assuring them of his greeting and blessing. Because first you show the human being before you that you see their God-loved-into-being humanity, and the evangelization flows from there.”
May God grant you a wonderful day...sincerely.
It seems that there is a sort of delusion taking place in our society perhaps a narrowmided approach to theology. Take for example the martyrdome of Saint Stephen the first recorded new testament martyr. The very word Martyr is translated Witness, which implies proseletysing, arguing to win others over to Christ. Well no where to my knowledge is it recorded that the first martyr (foolish proseletyser?) ever wished anyone a good day until he breathed his last breath in forgiveness after having insulted the hell out of his listeners. You see our ultimate goal isn’t gaining friends, nor avoiding persecution. It is to gain souls for Christ as he commanded to go forth and make disciples of all nations, not to go forth and be nice to all. Paul also spoke words of condemnation against “those who practice such things.” Let me know if you need scripture verses to look up.