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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Prudence

I really love how God works.

The post I wrote on Tuesday evening is not something I would speak to a real crowd (certainly maybe elements, but NOT in that way!), and I wrote it to deal with my own jitters. Much of what I write on this blog is to convict me. The point of that one; no matter how gutless I feel, it doesn't matter. There is an expectation I must live up to, and that is to speak the truth when I teach. I don't get many occasions to teach, literally two per year. For those who are not practicing Catholics, some of those teachings can seem harsh, not because of the way it's delivered, but because their own consciences are convicting them.

I know this from personal experience.

And I do share that personal experience when I speak to people. Last year I kept it at a minimum (with the exception of my Confession story), but this year I'll be adding in more.

Yesterday, I spoke with a woman who attends the parish with her family, is in some serious financial straits, and looking for options with regard to her children's formation. She is not Catholic, but is raising them "sorta" Catholic. She considers all religions to be the same, and sees no problem with receiving Holy Communion in a Catholic Church. She stated several times that she doesn't feel that ANYONE has the right to tell someone they can't receive Holy Communion.

Ironically, she does believe that the bread and wine truly become the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. She does not believe they are mere symbols, but the actual presence of Christ. She doesn't believe in going to Confession, but asks forgiveness when she receives.

And to make things trickier...even though she believes a lot of what the Church teaches, she has also been "turned off" by the Catholic Church by someone very close to her who so denigrated the traditions from which she comes that she does not want to become Catholic. (That...and she doesn't think the Church can claim any authority beyond that of the myriad of denominations.)

So our conversation was one that took a lot of care. I never ONCE came out and stated she should not be receiving Communion...not directly. I kept it general, but to the point, simply explaining the teachings of who can receive and why, how we must be prepared, etc. Had I stated outright, "You should not be receiving Communion here", well, it would have been the end of the conversation.

Instead, she listened, she stated her position, and I did my best, knowing it's not my job to convert her. It's my job to give her the teachings, and she is honestly interested in learning, but it was clear she was not interested in internalizing. Not yet, but who knows? Maybe in the future.

We all have to remember that conversion implies a relationship. We have a duty to establish that relationship, and lead people to Christ. But we can't force them there at gunpoint or scream and yell in condemnation.

That conversation yesterday, when she revealed her beliefs and what she was doing, well...parts of what she said caused physical pain. A couple times I was nearly in tears. I wasn't angry or outraged...just intensely sorrowful that someone could come so close, and yet be so far away and so unwilling to be reached.

But it starts there, sometimes.

Working in a church has really opened my eyes to the state of real people. A lot of bloggers out there just love to rant and condemn, and I used to do that a LOT. And yes, I still mean what I said yesterday, although such a rant would only appy to a specific audience. Not people like the one I spoke with yesterday. Such a rant would destroy her, spiritually.

Some people expressed that they thought I SHOULD state what I wrote in my little pretend speech. I disagreed from the very beginning, and yesterday's conversation brought that very reality home to me.

We must place a guard on our lips, lest by our rash words we chase people away from Christ forever. And WE would be held responsible for such an exodus.

We say we're not willing to go to Hell for anyone, and that's true. But we have to consider that, if we are imprudent, we may end up doing just that.

"Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord,
keep watch over the door of my lips! ~ Psalm 141

6 comments:

The Ironic Catholic said...

Amen.

Anonymous said...

good post.... thanks

angelmeg said...

That was my constant prayer:


Lord put your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.

Just so I wasn't compelled to say the wrong thing in a situation just like the one you have related here. If we don't meet people where they are and show them the light of truth how will they ever find their way out of the darkness.

If we try to blind them with the light they will simply turn away and we have done nothing to further the kingdom. We must show love and acceptance first.

Fr. Bud Pelletier said...

Welcome to the fine line that most priests walk almost every day. While many want us to blast first and ask questions later, and excoriate us in blogs for not doing so, you've been on both sides. Thank you for your love, concern, and joy in teaching and living the faith.

Eph. 4:15 - Veritatem facientes in caritate.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

beautiful once again Adoro, it's a good thing I come here it's great for a spiritual smacking upside the head.

Adoro te Devote said...

angelmeg ~ I was saying a similar prayer as I spoke with her. Can't remember the words, just praying not to be my obnoxious self.

Father ~ I don't know how critical I've been on the blog, but certainly, I know as a now-practicinig Catholic we NEED to be slapped now and again. Some of us more than others (I need to be beaten, actually, in my own obstinance). But I also know how hard it is to find the balance between what some people need, and what other people need.

I do continue to advocate speaking on difficult issues such as contraception and abortion, for I myself have suffered by both...for contraception IS an abortifacient. If we speak, and scare people away, well, they were never realy there. And if we speak and someone stops using contraception....a child (or maybe twins or more) are saved. And that parent becomes an NFP speaker who aids in the conversions of others.

Our dignity is upheald in our willingness to embrace the Truth. our dignity is degraded by people who refuse to speak the Truth, for by their unwillingness to suffer, they proclaim we aren't worth it.

I was offended with the Truth...and thank God, for now I'm home.