Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"To whom shall we go?"

“Night Owl”: “My godmother decided to change religions from Catholic to Southern Baptist about a year ago (my godfather passed away years ago). How do I help her back to the Catholic faith or should I even try? I think it’s a bit ironic that I need to help my "godmother" who promised to help raise me Catholic.

It is ironic, Anon, and, of course, sad about your godmother. Absolutely, you should try to help her back to the Church. You might want to start by asking her why she has left, and be prepared for just about anything. She has probably fallen in with people who look very unfavorably on the Catholic Church and its teachings. After listening to her, I would direct the conversation toward the Eucharist. Specifically, I would ask her about John 6 where Christ says to Peter, after the large crowd of people left Christ after the teaching on the Eucharist, “Do you also want to leave?” Peter responds with, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life?”

The Southern Baptist church does not have the Eucharist; the Eucharist is only found in the Catholic and Orthodox churches. So, I would ask her as gently as possible, ‘how can you leave the Eucharist?’ Hopefully, she will realize in time what Peter realized immediately: to walk away from the Eucharist is to walk away from Christ who is eternal life.
“Anon”: “I have a family member who is Jewish. When one of my children asked why she doesn't have a crucifix in her home, she told her that she is offended by the symbol of the cross. I know that b/c she is the sole Jew in our large Catholic family, she has a tendency to be a bit defensive about her faith, and I didn't feel comfortable asking her why she felt that way. I can understand that this is not her faith, but why is the cross offensive? I do not find the Star of David "offensive". She and my cousin just had a baby boy, and I'm guessing my cousin can kiss passing his Gonzaga legacy on goodbye!”

The Cross can be offensive to Jewish people if they think that we hold them solely responsible for the death of Christ. They might think that we are saying, ‘look what you did to our Savior’. Remember the uproar about the movie, “Passion of the Christ”, and how it was seen by many as anti-semitic? The movie was just telling the story of what happened: yes, the Jewish leaders and peoples were in the midst of it all, and yelling, ‘crucify him…crucify him’. But, so was Pilate and the Roman soldiers; and, so were all of us.

You might want to talk to your cousin’s wife and remind her that we all take part in the Passion narrative on Palm Sunday and Good Friday. We participate in it because we all had a hand in the death of Christ. It is our sin that has wounded him. No one group of people takes more blame than the other; the sins of all of humanity were present on Good Friday.

Also, you might try to find common ground with her. You don’t find the Star of David offensive because it is part of the foundation of your faith. The Jewish faith is the foundation of our Catholic Christian faith. We are all Jewish Christians. We don’t abandon the Old Law or the Old Testament because it is our heritage. It speaks to us of our ancestors in faith. You and she were family members, then, long before she married your cousin.

I would recommend learning more about the Old Testament so that you can discuss it with her. All of the Old Testament leads to Christ and the New Testament. The Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament (e.g. the Passover feast is fulfilled in the Eucharist). Judaism itself finds its fulfillment in Christianity. As St Paul realized, being a faithful Jew means being a faithful follower of Christ.
“Anon”: “A protestant person told me that they read in the paper that St. Mary's College was taking down crosses to make the non-Christian students more comfortable is this true?”

If you are referring to St. Mary’s College in Maryland, it is a public college, so there wouldn’t be crosses up in the first place.

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