I had a conversation with my daughter’s fiancé the other day; for me, it highlighted the difficulties in talking to a non-believer about God, and especially about God and the Catholic Church.
I don’t quite remember how it came up, but we talked about a Catholic’s obligation to attend Mass, along with a few other of the disciplines of the faith. The young man commented that he didn’t like it there were so many rules, and that’s one of the reasons he couldn’t see becoming Catholic (the other major stumbling block is that he hasn’t decided whether or not God exists!).
After he left, I realized that what I saw as a positive thing, he saw as negative. It bothers me not one little bit that we have a duty to attend Sunday Mass! The way the Mass is celebrated, of course, is another matter, but I desire to give God His due. I have a sense of coming closer to God in the Old Mass, with the prayers, the chants, and the rubrics. So many facets of the faith are illustrated therein, offering a chance to deepen one’s faith and one’s commitment to Our Lord.
I tried to explain to The Fiancé that God deserves this one hour of our time, but that went nowhere with a guy who isn’t sure God even exists!
Afterwards, I thought more about the whole thing. My life is centered on God. Many of the hours of the day are taken up in liturgical prayer and private devotions. I look at Face Book and see Catholic news from many of the friends I “follow”; and I see secular news, too, often filtered through the lens of traditional Catholicism – or else I filter it that way myself.
But The Fiancé doesn’t think about God very much, except, perhaps, when he is with us at a meal when we say grace; or occasionally when I bring up the topic; or occasionally with other friends of his say something about God. And I realized that I was out of my element in “evangelizing” him, because it is so foreign to me to think a thought without reference to God in some way. If I think a mean thought, I usually am struck by a pang of guilt for being uncharitable, and I ask God’s forgiveness. If I am driving along, or just out in the pasture with the dogs, and I see beauty in my surroundings, I think of God’s goodness. Sometimes when I’m not really thinking about much at all, I find myself saying, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” Stuff like that. I’m sure you do the same thing.
I think the way to go with The Fiancé is to take a Thomistic approach. Perhaps he can be persuaded that God exists through the five ways St. Thomas Aquinas outlines. I think I will give that a try.
At least he is searching. He says he has asked God for a sign. I tell him over and over that God has given him plenty of signs! One of those signs is my daughter!
Well, perhaps in your charity you will say a little prayer for The Fiancé, for his conversion; and also pray that God gives me the right words at the right time to give this young man a proper frame of reference in which to evaluate the reasons to believe in the One who created him in the first place.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.