The challenge is to witness to the validity of our Catholic spirituality with a mature love, without stooping to ridicule our Protestant brothers. It is God who converts and convicts; we are simply called to tell our stories and to pray. Then our sinfulness will not hinder any move of God
I am proud to proclaim I am a Catholic writer. A saved, born again, Spirit-filled lover of Jesus who expects to be accepted by Protestant lovers of Jesus, because I am a sister in Christ. However, my culture conspires against my attempts at reconciliation because my language habits sound foreign to Protestant ears. I am misunderstood and judged to be against the true faith by Bible-based Christians.
Initially, I wrote for secular and Protestant sites and felt I had to hide my Catholicism. When I finally wrote about my Catholic faith, I was immediately grilled and interrogated by shocked readers and co-authors. Yet God had His own agenda and through the moderator, forgiveness and unity began. Of course, the site decided to simply ignore my Catholicism and centre on my love of God.
When I discovered Catholic sites and was accepted as a writer, I was thrilled to finally be free to write about my faith without filters. Of course, Protestants and agnostics still attack me through comments, but I feel I am defending my faith on my territory, surrounded and protected by other Catholic writers – especially by the editors. Yet, tears still well up in my eyes at times, because I know exactly how anti-Catholics perceive the Catholic Church. I too once reviled Catholics and thought they had corrupted true faith in Christ the Saviour.
Protestants insist the Bible alone is the inspired Word of God, demanding every spiritual practice should be biblical. In an attempt to purify the Church during the Reformation, Protestants discarded thousands of years of teaching, wisdom and revelations. Yet since the definitive books of the Bible were not decided until after 300 AD, Catholics understand the Holy Spirit taught man through tradition, as well as Holy Scripture. Even scripture tells us to uphold tradition:
2 Thessalonians 2:15 – So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
1 Corinthians 11:2 – I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you.
However, it really does take divine revelations to break down the ingrained prejudices against Catholic tradition. I am a convert only because of divine intervention. My sister and I met the Lord when we were 16 and 17. She became a Protestant Missionary and I became a Catholic mother of nine after Jesus placed a hunger for the Eucharist and His Mother into my heart. As a result, my sister still prays for my salvation, because she reviles my deep relationship with Mary, seeing it as an insult to Christ.
My tears and pain are my silent prayer, whispered from the depths of my spirit as I choose to let my pain from this misunderstanding flow from me to the heart of Jesus. I cannot change my sister. Only He can open eyes. I yearn for the day God reveals His Mother to my sister, to all our Protestant Brethren. Yet I must caution myself against attacking any Protestant or defending myself without mutual love and respect. I always remember the Canadian founder of L’Arche, Jean Vanier, when he reminds us that winning a debate can actually mean losing in the long-term.
“We can be right. We can be dead right – and bring death to all those around us.”
The challenge, then, is to witness to the validity of our Catholic spirituality with a mature love, without stooping to ridicule our Protestant brothers. It is God who converts and convicts; we are simply called to tell our stories and to pray. Then our sinfulness will not hinder any move of God. Indeed, there are fascinating stories about whole congregations entering the Catholic Church with their Pastor, seemingly with no human intervention but prayer. I remember a story written in a Catholic Charismatic magazine thirty years ago about a Pentecostal conference where David de Plessis spoke ( a friend of Catholic Charismatics). The colours of the conference happened to be blue and gold. In the midst of a gathering of committed Pentecostals, the Blessed Virgin Mary revealed herself to so many participants, people were excitedly asking each other, “Have you met Mary?” rather than, “Have you met Jesus?”
Let us witness then in love, without sinning against those who have yet to experience the joy of the Eucharist or a deep relationship with their Heavenly Mother. Pray and watch God move to bring unity to His Mystical Body.
Copyright 2015 Melanie Jean Juneau
Art: Johannes Vermeer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons