If the Catholic Church is the true Church founded by Jesus Christ Himself, why is our faith such a hard sell when it comes to converting our separated brethren? This fact has always frustrated me, but actually, I can understand.
Last Sunday, I stumbled upon two videos. The first was a Facebook posting by a Protestant friend showing a man being baptized in a local non-denominational church. The baptismal pool was beautifully constructed, large enough to accommodate at least a half dozen people. In the pool were the candidate, two witnesses, and the preacher who was shouting praises to Our Lord. All were nicely dressed, shirts and ties. After proclaiming the Trinitarian formula, the gentleman was submerged while supported by the two witnesses behind him. Watching this man in tears coming to Christ was extremely moving, an emotional experience for all present.
Later that evening, I happened to see an old youtube video of singer/songwriter Kris Kristofferson telling how he came to write one of his most famous songs called Why Me Lord. He spoke of a profound religious experience he had at evangelist Jimmy Snow’s church where he uncharacteristically answered an altar call and turned his life over to Christ. His testimony and the beautiful song born of the experience was very touching.
We often hear these emotional stories where individuals publicly come forward to answer Christ’s calling, something that may seem foreign to us Catholics in our liturgical worship. It should be no surprise that those so moved by these impassioned encounters would be inclined to this type of relationship with the Lord. Lacking understanding of our liturgy, the Mass might seem unemotional and incomprehensible to them. Whereas Kris Kristofferson’s conversion came unexpectedly on the spur of the moment, Catholic conversion typically takes place after much introspect and study.
Even though we Catholics share a much more intimate encounter with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, our emotional reaction may pale when compared to the tearful joy one feels in witnessing a spontaneous acceptance of Christ. As human beings, we have a tendency toward seeking comfort even if it means compromising on truth. To go beyond simply have that friend in Jesus, a person must have the curiosity and desire to delve deeper into that relationship, even if it means sacrificing that comfortable feeling of presumed salvation.
Catholic apologist Tim Staples made that leap. He answered an altar call as a young man and felt all of those intense emotional feelings in accepting Jesus as his savior. Yet, through the prodding of his Catholic friend, he came to realize that accepting Jesus is more than a one-time act of the will. Following Jesus fully means listening to the Church He established. I can understand why many of our non-Catholic Christian friends seem to have a closer relationship with Jesus than we do. Emotion and comfort are strong motivators. At some point, we all need to reach beyond our comfort zones. Accepting Jesus as our personal Savior is easy. Completely surrendering to His will is the hard part.