…and a word of caution.
Writing a Catholic blog can be perilous especially for one who has taken as his apostolate, the responsibility for guiding new converts in the faith. On the one hand, you want to make sure they have been given a solid understanding of all the teachings of the faith and have grounded them in the traditions of the Church and on the other hand you want to make sure that you do no harm: for we can never forget that it is Christ who plows the field of the new convert’s soul. How I or others tend that fertile field is a responsibility that bears with it everlasting consequences and presents many dangers both for the catechist and the catechumen.
This may be a useful metaphor.
Some Catholic dialog is like fertilizer: too strong for the young roots – capable of burning and extinguishing the life within them. For the stronger plants, spreading manure (the vile waste that God uses to grow us in our spirituality), is useful in making a plant stronger and more alive.
This blog was not intended for the newly formed Catholic with delicate souls but I am aware that it is always possible that my posts may reach these souls from time to time. So it is a balancing act that must be dealt with in a serious manner. It is to some extent the same challenge as dealing with a group of individuals with varying needs: we do our best to encourage those who are inquiring about the faith and entering RCIA without giving them too much too soon.
We desire for all our new converts to seek holiness in their lives and to develop an understanding that the Church and Her Sacraments are indispensable in achieving that goal. Her sacred theology can help souls understand when their spiritual quest is going off course and the Church can provide devotions and prayers that lead souls closer to God.
Unfortunately a journey toward holiness, oftentimes leads to issues difficult to understand and to assimilate. Though you do not want to ignore what may be an impediment to a seeker, one still wonders if the newly initiated Catholic has been formed sufficiently to face these problems. Is it better to leave them in their struggles until such time that the Holy Spirit moves them to either seek counseling, find a spiritual director or should they confront the issues by themselves? If meditated upon with a mature spirituality (I speak here of souls who are no longer in danger of becoming despondent or melancholy) the extent of the spiritual battle is made quite apparent; both for our own soul as well as the soul of the Church. And the mature soul is enlivened to enter into this warfare to fight for his soul and for His King, the Church.
So should we explain the attacks of Satan on Christ’s Church and more specifically on these new and delicate souls? Though the dangers are certainly already present, they will always appear sometime in the future as one advances in holiness but is it too much, too soon? My considered answer would be no unless it is a one on one conversation. It is more properly handled by their confessors and by a trusted Catholic who can converse face-to-face making sure that they do not misunderstand what is being said. In that way they may come to understand the value of the evil faced and how they can use it for their own advancement and eventual salvation.
We wish to strengthen their bonds to the True Church and thus to Christ. In time we want them to recognize the wounds that Christ in His Mystical Body endures from age to age and will always face. However, I feel that this is a topic for the mature and not for the neophyte whose instruction may not have been as solid as we would have wished.
As a catechist I am always struck by the diversity of souls that come into the church. Every soul is different and thereby unique to them. In an inquiry class, for instance, I was faced with a young evangelical that just couldn’t quite wrap his mind around many of the arguments for the veracity of the Catholic Church. I had nearly exhausted every apologetic I that I had in my arsenal. To my rescue, a friend of mine gave the young man the book Born Fundamentalist,by David Currie and it happened to do the trick; he never looked back. In fact, he bought about a dozen copies of the book to hand out to his evangelical family and friends. He is now a faithful member of the Catholic Church.
As a blogger, I have been given a venue to say many things that are not appropriate to discuss with individuals that I instruct within a group. Therefore, I must continually pray for guidance, hoping of course that a spiritual initiate might not read into my posts a negative assessment of the Faith itself. Let me assure you, it is far from my purpose, to ever devalue the One True Church that I have come to love. Misread articles are a great source of worry and give me pangs of conscience as I publish many of my posts. It is always possible that they can create confusion in those who are unaware of real situations that are going on in the Church. I do believe, however, that these situations, though that may cause a soul grief, will be revealed one way or another as they become better informed Catholics. God will use these difficulties, not to their detriment but to their advancement.
To the initiated and well formed Catholic, I do not think anyone will come to the same conclusions a newly formed or poorly formed Catholic might. I believe that they will understand my love for the Church and my love for Christ; they will see that my sole motive is the propagation of the faith and the advancement of souls to a deeper spirituality and to a life that desperately wants to grow in holiness. At least I like to think that. Only lives lived for holiness and rooted in Christ, can change our world and our culture. Actions and behaviors speak louder than words among those in secular society. It is the only meaningful answer for the problems the secular faces.
For those who find some of my topics disturbing, I actually wish that you do not read them but return to them only when or if you feel drawn to such topics. Having strong convictions in the Catholic Faith is paramount for the examination and evaluation of internal strife and fractures that exist in our Catholic culture.
I therefore pray, and ask all my readers to also pray for me and for one another, that we all might walk that narrow path that will not hinder the workings of our Lord and Savior within these new souls which He has called. But instead, let us help raise up warriors in Catholic apologetics, prayer and the love of God and neighbor. May they go forth to advance in all works of holiness and draw closer to God every day as they draw their nourishment from the Sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church.
May God be ever in my mind and in my heart and guide me to say only that which He Himself would have me say. May my readers likewise be enlivened in their faith and come to recognize the spiritual combat that we each are called to undertake in our own individual way for the advancement of souls. This I ask in Christ’s name. Amen.