INVITATION TO A JOURNEY OF CONVERSION
- “WE BELIEVE…” A Survey of the Catholic Church by Fr. Oscar Lukefahr, C.M.
- Workbook for the Course
- Outlines of the Catholic Faith Book
If the notes used by presenters are made available, then they will be added to this site.
On a recent visit to the United States, Mother Teresa surprised many of her admirers by observing that there was a poverty here which in many ways was even more dire than in Calcutta. What could she possibly have meant? If we were to really look around, the answer would hit us squarely between the eyes. Ironically, we have surrounded ourselves with a banquet of transitory delights and pursuits, while forgetting to seek an imperishable treasure. We have looked for love in all the wrong places. We separated sexuality from marriage and then wondered what had become of intimacy. We placed a greater value upon making and spending money than in leisure filled with peace and prayer. We have filled our lives with false gods who failed to make us happy and hid the fact behind noise pretending to be music and activity which only led us in endless circles. We have sought out easy quick fixes to our needs, instead of attempting responsible planning and hard work.
Where are we going?
What is the point of it all?
Why are we here?
What and who is the source of our existence?
The Church would desire to assist us in this journey to find the answers, both in ourselves and among others. Whether or not we really appreciate it, we are made for God. Without God, we are incomplete and frustrated. The greatest thrills and pleasures can become dull and boring. Money and power can lose their luster in the midst of suffering and death. Mother Teresa observed that we have become a spiritually impoverished people. We have sought to discover outside of ourselves, things for which we should have inquired within. Here is where the journey of a soul begins. The greatest figures and the least remembered all had to face suffering and death. Neither technology nor bribery could keep this great equalizer from our door.
We have become a lonely and frightened people. The Scriptures reveal that God made us in his own image and the humanists attempt to return the compliment by re-making God into man’s. It is not enough. There is an inner questioning and reaching in each one of us which seeks to be freed from a drowning sea of lies and half-truths. Even good things have become a part of the deceit. Religion has sometimes received bad press. Many people would claim to be Christian even though they belong to no particular community. Although this might be permissible for someone beginning the quest for truth, ultimately it should lead to a realization that God has called a people to himself in a visible and living community. We are a family of faith, not isolated monoliths to face the storms and calms of life without companionship.
None of these words, or those to follow, should be viewed as propaganda. The Church seeks to earnestly discover, to follow, and to proclaim the truth. She believes that her brand of truth is closest to the reality of things; however, the Church refuses to coerce anyone into her ranks. The Church merely offers the invitation, “Come and see.” Faith cannot be forced. It can be nurtured, but ultimately, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. If after seeing what the Catholic Church has to offer, one is still not convinced of her claims, to enter would be hypocritical. Intellectually, there have been many great minds drawn to the Church. Nevertheless, there have also been many well versed in what Catholics believed, who never seemed to receive the gift of faith. Instead of giving up, it is an occasion for more study and prayer.
Although the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults was originally intended for those who were not baptized; the accompanying instruction programs include increasing numbers of the curious from other ecclesial communities. Our directives in this age would prevent us from any aggressive proselytizing, especially from the mainline traditions. However, the open invitation remains for any who would come of their own accord. Indeed, experience has shown that members from other communities, well versed in religion already and possessing the skills to search for truth, often outnumber those who look at Christianity for the first time. Engaging in the process of inquiry should make one feel eager to go all the way in becoming Catholic. We would hope that this would be one’s aspiration; but again, it must be a person’s own free decision. Another preliminary note of which we need to be reminded is to come with open minds and hearts. We will get nowhere otherwise. Also, it is important that we participate as much as our abilities allow in the learning process. There will be many influences, from the Internet community, from family, friends, some ministers, the media, etc., which will attempt to short-circuit this process of maturation in Christ. They may do this out of no ill will, but simply out of prejudice and ignorance. What danger can there be in hearing the Church out.
THIS LAST POINT IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT. PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW YOUR CATECHISM TO BE TAUGHT TO YOU BY THOSE WHO ARE EITHER IGNORANT OR HOSTILE TO THE FAITH. I REMEMBER LOSING ONE YOUNG WOMAN FROM MY CLASS OVER THE ISSUE OF HUMAN SEXUALITY. THE CHARLIE CURRAN AFFAIR WAS BIG IN THE NEWS AND IT BECAME AN OCCASION TO MOCK THE CHURCH’S POSITION AGAINST CONTRACEPTION AND EXTRA-MARITAL SEX. SHE WAS MORE WILLING TO BELIEVE WHAT DAN RATHER SAID ON CBS THAN TO HEAR IT DIRECTLY FROM A PRIEST IN GOOD STANDING OR FROM THE CHURCH’S OWN DOCUMENTS, INCLUDING THE SCRIPTURES. JUST THE OTHER DAY, I HAPPENED TO WATCH A FUNDAMENTALIST MINISTER ON TELEVISION MAKE ALL SORTS OF ABSURD AND BIGOTED STATEMENTS ABOUT WHAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH BELIEVES. HE DID NOT BEGIN TO ANSWER THE DILEMMA OF HOW HE COULD CRITICIZE A TWO THOUSAND YEAR OLD CHRISTIAN INSTITUTION WHEN HIS WENT BACK MERELY TO THE BEGINNING OF HIS OWN PERSONAL MINISTRY. ANTI-CATHOLICISM, EVEN FROM SO-CALLED CATHOLICS, IS NOT ONLY TOLERATED TODAY, IT HAS BECOME FASHIONABLE.
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