Friday, July 24, 2015

When Opportunity Knocks

Wednesday evenings usually find me attending the 6 PM Mass at our local parish, but last week my wife and I were out of town.  Got a phone call the next day from a friend who said she was conversing on the church steps after Mass when approached by a small group of evangelical Protestants who inquired about her spiritual status, and offered to pray for her.  I relish such casual meetings as opportunities to offer some Catholic evangelization to someone already engaged in the Christian mission, so I was disappointed that I was not there.

Having had such experiences in the past, I came to realize the importance of being prepared for these opportunities.  Unfortunately, I am one of those whose brain locks up under the slightest pressure.  Then, I spend the rest of the day thinking of all the things I should have said when I had the chance.   While no two encounters ever follow the same script, some forethought can help us make the most of these opportunities when they arise.

First of all, relax.  These are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we have much in common.  Smile and listen to what they have to say, but don’t let them walk away without engaging in some friendly conversation.   Tell them you admire their courage in openly spreading the gospel message.  And then, ask them some questions to keep them engaged.  Here are just a few possibilities.  Some are ice-breakers and some are food for thought.

What kind of reception do you get from most people you encounter in your mission?
What church do you attend?
Who is your pastor?
Is your church affiliated with a governing body or just non-denominational?
How long has it been around?
Who started it?
Were you always in this church or why did you join it?
Do you believe in the Bible as the only rule of faith?  
Have you read a lot of church history?
Who determined which of the early Christian writings would be put in the Bible?
How do you know they were correct?
Have you read the early Christian writers of the first few centuries, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Cyril of Jerusalem, to name a few?
If not, search Church Fathers online, very interesting.
If yes, then I am curious, why are you not Catholic?

Such conversation can help in several ways.  If they haven’t considered some of the questions before, it might pique their curiosity.  If they have given these things some prior thought, it may lead the conversation down a certain path to fruition.  And, if nothing else, it may introduce them to a friendly Catholic who they would enjoy meeting again.