Have you ever had a friend who has tried to convert you to their religion? They start slowly at first with slight hints and ambiguous invitations to events: “Oh, other denominations will be there” but it escalates to something that could be uncomfortable for both parties involved. You wear your faith like the air you breathe. Why can’t they see that? And then it affects your friendship. And you lose your friendship or it becomes very awkward when you try to tiptoe around certain topics.
I’ve seen this happen before, so I knew that when I started to become closer with another mom (with kids the same age!) of a different religion that I had to set the rules straight. I told her we needed a no-convert rule. She might have taken some offense to it initially, but after I explained my perspective she shook on it. We agreed not to try to convert each other.
A couple of times we’ve asked questions to one another, just to understand what certain things meant, but we never let it carry on more than a few moments. Our pact not to convert each other has stood firm for almost a year now.
Bishop Robert Barron offers some insightful tips on evangelism in this video from Word on Fire. “Begin with the beautiful…Let people see. Show them. Look at this. And the beautiful, I think, will build a kind of alchemy.”
But now it hurts. Because we’re close friends. And I can’t discuss the most important thing in my life with her: Christ and my faith.
When discussing this with my ever-wise husband, I came across a revelation. I was so afraid to lose the friendship that I set up this no-convert rule, and in the process, I decided not to share Catholicism with her, the Core of my being with her.. And I’m pretty sure that’s not what God wants.
I feel like sometimes Catholics are the only ones who don’t actively convert. We serve and fundraise, do mission trips and serve the poor, but we don’t really convert. We don’t have people walking door-to-door spreading the faith. I’m sure there are a bunch of Catholic evangelists out there, but they’re not the majority.
I don’t feel like we’re called to knock on doors during dinnertime to discuss theology or stand on street corners, but I may have found a small solution for those who are willing to evangelize. For those who want to destroy that (real or imaginary) pact on the no-convert rule with friends and family.
It’s going to take time. And patience. And prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide you to know when and how to speak.
The thing that can convert souls is the depth of the love of Christ and the depth of our theology. We can talk and sing about Jesus’ love for us, but adults –especially those who are from other denominations or agnostics or atheists- are going to frown and ask serious questions that demand answers. If we’re going to convert people and invite people deeper into the heart of Christ, we need to know our theology.
When’s the last time you opened the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Do you know why we baptize children? Can you explain limbo? Just testing… is there still a limbo? From what I know of Catholic converts, the majority of them were brought into the Church because of the depth of the faith and the answers to their questions that were provided by Catholic teachings. God answered them.
If you want to be the vessel that God uses on Earth to bring more souls to Him, you have to know your Catholic theology. This does not mean that you’re going to walk around reciting the Catechism to people. No, you wait until they ask you. You listen and pray and study. Then the opportunity will come. Someone will ask you a question about the faith and you’ll be ready. You might not know the answer straight off the bat, and that’s okay. Take the time to research the question along with them. Because of all the reading and studying you have done you will know where to look.
You’ll be able to give them those answers they’re asking for. The answers that will slowly feed their soul and let God speak to them. You’ll be so excited by the opportunity to spread Christ’s teachings that you may also feel nervous because the weight of the world –or a soul- is on your shoulders. However, remember that you’re a vessel and not the Holy Spirit. You can help, but, in the end, it’s God who will work on their heart. Trust me, the more you immerse yourself in Christ, the more He will be able to use you.
Go to Mass, go to adoration, read and study, pray and then wait. You never know when the Holy Spirit will need you, but now you know how to prepare yourself for His mission.