Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Church, Our Mother

Two ladies came to my door last night. I thought they were from the local Kingdom Hall, but as it turned out they were Baptists. They were very nice women and asked if they could send a bus to pick up my children for VBS at the end of June. They wanted names and ages, wanted the legion of children peeking out at them from behind and beside me registered then and there. I had some questions because of my wife's still being in school (extended year, long story) and hemmed and hawed my way out of Registration Now. I was given a flyer with a number to call if I decided to have the kids picked up.

We are not here to quibble over whether I am yellow. I am. So I did not say that I was not interested because I was Catholic. They simply would not have understood. They would not understand how they, with purest intentions, would try to steal God's graces from my children by trying to steal them from his Church.

There are some people, of course, who are Protestant and I would have few problems with them teaching my children about the Scriptures, about Jesus. They know us and, while they do not really understand our being Catholic and do not feel similarly, they respect that we are Catholic. They respect that we do love Christ and that we are in Christ. They understand that much and that much is enough. We know and trust them.

Strangers certainly do not have that relationship, however, and my children become little more than wheat-white-unto-harvest to them. Because they love them? Yes. Because Catholics and Protestants end up speaking past each other, as if speaking different languages? Certainly.

I am not disparaging Protestants here. Let us be honest with one another without having our feelings hurt: If you are a Protestant, you would not send your children to a Catholic VBS either. (Yes, we have them.) Just as you are for your children, I am responsible for the spiritual upbringing of mine. I brought them into the Catholic Church. And I intend to raise them in the Church and keep them in the Church. They may someday leave her. I pray that they do not, but someday they may. But that will then be their decision. Now, as children, they are unable to process or handle the differences between the Catholic Church and Protestant denominations. Now they only understand whether someone loves Jesus.

And some of you may well be wishing we were all like children in this respect, but that, unfortunately, is not our reality. We have real differences. We believe differently. And we must be willing to speak of our differences in order that we may be united with one another. As I said in the comment box for my post on C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, "Knowing Jack," we cannot be faithful or deep Christians by all of us crowding into the hallway in between the separate rooms. Real ecumenism is not in the part, but in the whole - and it can only take place in one of the rooms.

I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. She is visible; not invisible. She must be: If the Church is invisible, then she is also indivisible, which renders our visible unity and Christ's prayer in John 17 meaningless, entirely useless.

But I'm getting off track. My children are saved; they're being saved - I do not need things muddled for them by someone asking them to be part of the Kingdom of which they already belong. I do not need them wondering about whether they prayed a prayer or whether they meant it. We pray. We love. We worship. We live and move and breathe in him. We have friendship with Christ because he has poured out his grace upon us.

I am not against evangelization, by any means, or against the spirit which motivates these good Baptist women to put feet on their faith and knock on my door. But if you wish to evangelize my children, teach them the Scriptures. Make them better Catholics. They do not need to be saved from the Church, but through her.


paul said...

Living in NC I expect this won't be your first or last such doorway encounter.

God help you & help us all with our children.

Dan said...

"Jesus GOTR Dun"

That demands a knee-slapping, square-dancin' big fat Hallelujah!

That sign gave me a chuckle this morning.

And for the record, I wouldn't want to entrust any children of mine to Baptist strangers either.