An Evangelical Catholic Speaks

There has been a fair bit of traffic on this blog about the concept of Evangelical Catholicism. There seems to be an opinion out there that Evangelicals who convert to the Catholic faith want the Catholic faith to be like their former denomination. This is exactly what they do not want, but the misunderstanding is widespread.

One former Presbyterian minister told me the story of how he was received into the Catholic church, and how one of his first Catholic pastors welcomed him and wanted him to help make the liturgy more relevant. The Catholic priest thought this convert clergyman could help out. The former presbyterian pastor was shocked and dismayed. He said, “This is exactly what I do not want. For ten years as a presbyterian pastor I tried to make up my own services, preach on what I wanted and devise some sort of ‘liturgy’ or ‘worship experience’ for my people. I became a Catholic because that just won’t do. I want the Cathechism. I want the liturgy. I want the lectionary. I want the Liturgy of the Hours. I want the spirituality of the saints. I want the Church. Most of all I want the Eucharist.”

Do converts from the Evangelical faith want to lower the bar and bring in some type of watered down Protestantism? None that I know of. Listen to one of them speak: take time to read the story of Aimee Milburn. She writes eloquently and at some length of her experience of Jesus Christ both as an Evangelical and what she has gained in becoming a Catholic. If you have any question at all about the depth of a former Evangelical’s Catholic experience, read Aimee’s story.
It is true that converts from Evangelicalism thank God for the good things they experienced within Protestantism. This is a sign of the grace and goodness of their conversion. Most Catholics who go the other way do so with a sense of bitterness and rejection of things Catholic. Those who come into Catholicism from Evangelicalism invariably talk of embracing ‘More Christianity’ and moving from all the good things they had within Evangelicalism to a fuller and deeper experience of their faith within the fullness of the Catholic faith.

Evangelical Catholicsm, however, remains misunderstood for various reasons. Some Catholics question the need to ‘re-brand’ Catholicism. Isn’t the old name brand good enough? Of course it is, but we mustn’t overestimate ‘Evangelical Catholicism’. The whole thing is more of a perspective than a prescription. It’s more an emphasis than a mandate. No one is trying to make everyone an ‘Evangelical Catholic’ any more than your local friar thinks every Catholic needs to be a Franciscan. Evangelical Catholicism sometimes borrows methods or techniques from Protestantism, but as it does so, it re-writes and re-formulates them within a truly Catholic context and perspective.

Why are these new approaches needed? Because the Church (like the society in which she operates) is in the process of deep and revolutionary change. For many reasons the old ‘cutural Catholicism’ doesn’t work. Very few people are Catholics now simply because their grandparents were Irish, Italian or Polish. Cafeteria Catholicism has been tried and found terribly wanting. People need to be catechized and evangelized. Do we really think the Catholic Church in the last fifty years has done a good job on this? Not if the widespread ignorance of the faith, low level of commitment, poor liturgy and slack morals are anything to go by.

Is it really so wrong to try some new methods? Evangelical Catholics do not deny the value of traditional forms of Catholic piety, evangelization or catechesis. They are simply using new forms and methods to accomplish the same task of bringing people into that personal relationship with Jesus Christ that cannot be separated from a deeper and more loving commitment to his Church and sacraments. These folks do not presume that their new methods are for everyone, or that everyone need necessarily like or approve of them.

But they do deserve tolerance, open mindedness and a fair hearing.

  • Anonymous

    I do have one question: as Amy Welborn said, their methods are “heavily informed by Evangelical Protestantism.” Since converts do not have the lived experience of Catholicism, would it be asking too much that they refrain from using Protestant methodology? You don’t need a degree in ritual studies or anthropologoy to know that you don’t usually divorce form from content or method from content and I think that’s basically the problem and the worry here. An Evangelical convert, of course, cannot simply delete their Evangelical experiences upon their reception into the Church, but if they are going to evangelize for and in the name of the Roman Catholic Church, I don’t really want them to keep reinforcing those Protestant “insights” or methods now that they are Roman Catholic. And before people say that there are not specifically or uniquely “Catholic” ways to evangelize or pray or whatever, I would say that they should read Benedict XVI’s Sacramentum caritatis. This document makes clear what the Catholic position on Jesus, the Church, and the Eucharist is. What converts from the Evangelical communities do not appear to understand is the centrality of the Eucharist, its constitutive nature, how it is the way by which Jesus makes Himself known to us in a personal way and how it is the way we achieve communion with Him. The Eucharist makes us the Body of Christ and that is the Church and this is never separated from Christ.I think converts from Evangelicalism see the Church only as an Institution or as an add-on to Christ and always relativize it in some way. They should read the debate between Cardinal Ratzinger with Cardinal Kasper on the universal and local church for clarity on that issue. In any case, until Evangelical converts truly understand what is at stake in the Catholic liturgy, until they understand that the “liturgy wars” are not just a matter of taste or some kind of abstract theology, they will not understand Roman Catholicism. And therefore Roman Catholicism does have a unique approach to prayer and missionization because Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is at its heart and there is nothing comparable in the Evangelical world.

  • Theocoid

    I would suggest that what Evangelical Catholics are not doing anything new but reintroducing something that has been hidden or obscured in our Catholic past.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Anonymous, I understand your assumption, but I wonder how much you have taken the time to read the literature produced by the people in question. The ones I know are not new converts. They have been Catholics for many years. In that time they have studied Catholic theology, know the documents of the Church in depth and are fully aware of the points you bring up. They are not seeking some sort of conversion experience separate from the sacraments and full unity with the whole of Catholic doctrine.You have made certain bald statements about these Evangelical Catholics, but you haven’t substantiated from their writings. You say much ‘I think’ and ‘I believe’ but don’t give evidence for your assumptions.When you read what they have written and what they are trying to do, I am sure you will be satisfied that they want nothing more than to bring people into the full relationship with Jesus Christ that can only be objectified through fully sacramental union with his body, the Church.The do not see the Church as an optional add on. The ones I know have studied the faith and explord the faith at great depth before making huge sacrifices to become Catholic. Of course there may be some immature converts who may do so, but the same cavalier attitude may be levelled at many cradle catholics or cafeteria catholics.

  • Anonymous

    Well, actually I have read their writings and that’s what I find disturbing. The first is this notion that what they offer is something “obscured in our Catholic past.” There’s an important distinction to be made here. For example, just because there were charismatics during the period of the Didache (and perhaps the practice perdured in some remote areas and sporadically until the time of Gregory Nazianzus) doesn’t mean that the “retrieval” of this practice in Roman Catholicism in the 20th century is a retrieval of our obscured past. Rather, Catholic charismatics are really copying Protestant charismatics. They knew little or nothing about early Christians practices in this area. It was one of the effects of the “opening up” of the Church to the modern age and the ecumenical movement, not something wherein we “retrieved” our obscured heritage. Similarly, as I explained in my initial post, Roman Catholicism has a particular identity. It is not a generic Christianity. It has a history and a culture. Not everything can be accommodated. Roman Catholicism is not just a grab-bag of disconnected practices and rituals that can be resurrected at will. It has developed over 2,000 years and has achieved a certain ethos and presence. As far as Evangelical converts are concerned, I do not believe they understand the Eucharist. Their own ecclesial bodies don’t place the same level of importance on it. Thus converts can hardly be expected to evaluate it the same way.As far as the personal experience with Jesus is concerned, I read the statement on Intentional Disciples this p.m. It was simply a laundry list of statements. There was no thesis statement, no development, no evaluation, no conclusion about how one then went on to integrate one’s personal friendship with Jesus into the Church, etc. There has to be some level of theological sophistication here, for there to be evangelization. If you read St. Paul’s letters, Jesus and the Church are there right from the start, fully developed. One sees the theologian at work teaching converts what is at stake, what the crucial points are, in decisive, well-honed paragraphs. That’s what I miss at Intentional Disciples: there’s no “point” to it. One cannot claim to show the fullness of Magisterial teaching (which really means only those statements that concern the laity) and then just provide undeveloped, unreflective quotations from a variety of texts, without any connection or segues or connection to other aspects of Catholicism. Everything just seems to hang in space, without being connected to the whole.I also find it naive to assume that one can import methods without also importing thought patterns and beliefs. Students of anthropology and ritual studies have known this for decades now.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Thank you anonymous. It is not correct to assume that Evangelical Catholics are necessarily Charismatic Catholics. Some may be, not all need be.I’m not sure the document or the context of the ‘obscured in our Catholic past’ phrase. You didn’t mention where this came from.Have you followed the blog from the Catherine of Siena Institute? It is anything but theologically lightweight. The Dominicans involved are theologically very saavy, as are the others involved on their blog.Furthermore, not all those involved in this movement are converts. A good number are cradle Catholics who are not encumbered with Protestant thinking.Could I also recommend the blog called ‘Evangelical Catholicism’? You will find it anything but theologically lightweight, neither is it disconnected from the whole of Catholic teaching and practice.Finally, how can you make such a broad assumption that converts ‘do not understand the Eucharist?’ The problem I have as a convert, now ordained as a priest is the large number of badly catechized, complacent and ignorant cradle Catholics who do not understand or value the Eucharist. If the existing system was so good, why do such a large proportion of Catholics say they do not believe in transubstantiation? Why do such a large number of the cradle Catholics stop going to Mass? Isn’t there a problem there?

  • Jeffrey Smith

    Then why are you insisting on calling yourselves Evangelical Catholics and automatically offending people? I just do not understand this at all.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    I think those who claim the name Evangelical Catholic want to re-claim the word ‘Evangelical’. I think they also want to make Evangelicals think twice–and help them see that the fullness of the gospel is Catholic. They also want to challenge Catholics to see (and claim) the best of Evangelicalism. They’re willing to risk offense of a few to do this. However, I have found that the EC strive hard to expain what they are doing with care and charity.The other side of the coin, of course, is that while they should not intentionally offend, perhaps others should not be so quick to be offended. It’s a two way street.

  • Jeron

    The fact someone is so offended by the word “evangelical catholic” says more about the offendee than the “offendor.”

  • Jay Anderson

    “As far as Evangelical converts are concerned, I do not believe they understand the Eucharist.”Oh. So I don’t understand the entire reason I converted in the first place? Some rather sweeping statements going on here.

  • Fr Jay Scott Newman

    I wonder how many of those who object to the term Evangelical Catholic describe themselves as Traditional Catholics, meaning (among other things) that they prefer to attend the Tridentine Mass.

  • Sherry W

    Anonymous:Its simple: If you object to the retrieval of the charisms, your argument is with the Church. The importance, reality, and wide distribution of the charisms to the faithful were specifically debated at the 4th session of the Vatican Council in October, 1965 in the context of the Decree on the Laity. The 485 references to charism(s) or cognates thereof in conciliar and magisterial teaching since are no accident. In this, as in the reality of the “evangelical” and of “evangelization”, your argument is with the Church who is very clear in her teachings in all these areas.But you never seem to engage with those teachings.Fr. Dwight is right – both Fr. Mike Fones and Fr. Michael Sweeney (with whom I started the Institute) are dyed in the wool cradle Catholics who have never left the Church or been anything else. Keith Strohm is also a cradle Catholic. I am the only non-cradle Catholic that blogs regularly at Intentional Disciples.I’ve been Catholic for 19 years now. My experience of the Church has been extraordinarily broad and deep because of my work. From illiterate Hispanic packing house workers in Kansas to top level cardinals in the Vatican, I’ve spent time and learned from them all. And I’ve personally done in depth interviews with at least a thousand Catholics from around the English speaking world (and elsewhere) which almost no one else I know has done. I’ve attended Mass in Latin, Arabic, Indonesian, Spanish, and Italian; in Rome, London, Jakarta, Auckland, Sydney, Toronto, and Dodge City, Kansas. In the most famous of traditional sanctuaries and in tiny Victorian churches on the roof of the world.To assert that people like me can’t understand Catholic worship or teaching because we don’t have a lived experience of Catholicism is simply absurd. It’s not an ordinary cradle Catholics’ experience nor is it life-long or perfect or all encompassing but it is real and it is deep. Just FYI – If you had asked, you would know that I am Catholic today *because* of the Eucharist. Because I recognized, I *felt* the Real Presence (although I had no understanding of Catholic teaching on the subject) the first time I crossed the threshold of Blessed Sacrament Church in Seattle as an undergraduate. And I am not alone – many converts enter the Church because of the Eucharist.Of course, someone born a Catholic wouldn’t need such trumperies as mystical experiences because their instinctual, gut-level absorption of the faith is so profound and all-encompassing. That does leave us with the mystery of the 17 million unchurched Catholics in this country – 95% of whom were born and raised Catholic. And the 1/3 of US evangelicals who are 1st and 2nd generation converts from Catholicism. Somehow, they escaped the all powerful and practically infallible “sense of the faith” that only a cradle Catholic can apparently possess. Who knows? We just might have to evangelize our own after all . . .

  • Anonymous

    Pope Benedict uses the terms “missio” and “missionalem” in Sacramentum caritatis to describe the evangelization that comes of the Eucharist. Why is this not the standard nomenclature rather than “evangelical.” You all know that is a loaded term and automatically refers to Evangelical Christianity. It is used more to pacify evangelical converts than to clarify or advance the discussion about the mission of the Church. At least, let’s be forthright about that. It’s not a matter of “retrieving” our heritage, it’s a matter of collapsing and conflating two different theologies and ecclesiologies, if you want to get right down to it. Yes, of course, one can find some uses of the term in antiquity. Eusebius’ Demonstratio evangelica, being one. But please don’t tell me that all of these “evangelical” Catholics were drinking from the font of early Christianity when they chose the term “evangelical.”Evangelical,” as a modern term is a Protetant term. Catholics, as Pope Benedict has shown, use the term “missio.” What’s the problem?

  • Sherry W

    Anonymous:”Missio” is just the Latin word for Mission as in Missio Redemptoris, Pope John Paul’s encyclical on the Mission of the Redeemer. “missionalem” is the same root word as in “Asiae Missionalem Congressum”, which translated on the Vatican website as “Asia Mission Congress”. “mission” is not a substitute for “evangelization” which Pople John Paul used over and over as in the “mission of evangelization”.Pope Benedict is not proposing “mission” as a substitute for a word which has been used hundreds of times over the past 40 years at the highest level of Church teaching.

  • Anonymous

    And of course, Sherry, you can read Pope Benedict’s mind. At this moment, it’s irrelevant what Pope John Paul said about evangelization or mission. Read Cardinal Ratzinger’s lecture on the New Evangelization. He emphasizes the traditional Catholic notions of prayer, a life lived as a Catholic witness to the Truth, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. And nowhere does he use the term “evangelical.” And now it’s Pope Benedict’s turn to set the stage for the way mission and proclamation are done in the Church, not Pope John Paul’s and not yours.As to your commet on the retrieval of the “charisms,” please don’t engage in disingenous conversation. You can “retrieve” anything you want if you look hard enough. You can cite one (or a few) instances of something from the past and cite it as a “tradition.” You’re ignoroing the concept of “interculturality,” the idea that the Roman Catholic Latin Rite Church has its own history and culture and that these must be honored by those who wish to convert to Roman Catholicism. As Pope Benedict XVI said in Sacramentum caritatis (#78): “The intercultural character of this new worship, this logiké latreía, needs to be recognized. The presence of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit are events capable of engaging every cultural reality and bringing to it the leaven of the Gospel.” This statement assumes not only the culture that receives the Gospel, but also the culture of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Benedict also wrote this (in Truth and Tolerance):”Anyone entering the Church has to be aware that he is entering a separate, active cultural entity with her own many-layered intercultural character that has grown up in the course of history. Without a certain exodus, a breaking off with one’s life in all its aspects, one cannot become a Christian. Faith is no private path to God; it leads into the people of God and into its history. God has linked himself to a history, which is now also his history and which we cannot simply erase. Christ remains man to eternity, retains a body to eternity; but being a man, having a body, includes having a history and a culture, this particular history with its culture, whether we like it or not. We cannot repeat the process of the Incarnation at will, in the sense of repeatedly taking Christ’s flesh away from him, so to speak, and offering him some other flesh instead. Christ remains the same, even according to his body. But he is drawing us to him. That means that because the people of God is, not just a single cultural entity, but is gathered together from all peoples, therefore the first cultural identity, rising again from the break that was made, has its place therein; and not only that, but it is needed in order to allow the Incarnation of Christ, of the Word, to attain its whole fullness. The tension of many active entities within a single entity is an essential part of the unfinished drama of the Son’s Incarnation. This is the real inner dynamic of history, and of course it stands always beneath the sign of the Cross; that is to say that it must always be struggling against the opposing weight of shutting off, of isolation and refusal.” This applies as much to Evangelical converts as it does to converts from the Asian reigions. I’ll say it again: it is naive to assume that the use of a loaded term like “evangelical” does not enable converts from evangelicalism to persist in their former patterns and habits of thought and to not fully embrace the fullness of Catholicism. Just ask any expert in anthropology or ritual studies.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Wow! I’m pretty impressed with Sherry’s credentials. I’m also impressed that the founders of the Catherine of Siena Institute are mostly cradle Catholics, friars and theologians. It rather kills the point that its the naieve novice Evangelical converts who are the bad guys.The most powerful and tragic question in this thread is “If the former methods of catechesis were so good, why have such a huge proportion of Cradle Catholics stopped attending Mass, don’t understand or love the Mass, disregard church teaching or leave for other ecclesial communities?”It the statistics are such grim reading maybe a few new techniques and methods might be used in addition to the standard traditional ones? One last thing, which is unconnected: This is just a matter of courtesy. I’m sure anonymous you don’t mean to be rude, but continuing to post long comments under the ‘anonymous’ tag is impolite. It’s like sending people anonymous letters in the mail. Even if they are nice it’s still impolite not to sign your name. It only takes a moment to register your name with Blogger, and its free. You can even choose a pseudonuym if you like. The odd anonymous comment is fine, but something is a little creepy about the anonymity thing when it goes on and one. The other thing is practical. It’s difficult to follow a thread when there is more than one anonymous commentator. We’d like to follow your argument, and it would help if we could put a name to it.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for letting me comment on your blog. I know when I’m outnumbered. I will say that I’m not a “traditionalist” Catholic. I wasn’t born until the pontificate of John Paul II, so I have no direct experience of the TLM or the “traditionalist” view of things. My concern is that this is one more manifestation of the baby-boomer manipulation of the Church. Not to stereotype or over-generalize, but the baby boomers have corrupted everything they’ve ever touched, especially those who’ve involved themselves in the Church. The Church has suffered at their hands, through one absurd movement after another and it seems to me that this fascination with “evangelical” is just one more instance of the same. One thing you do learn from studying theology and Church history, however, is that most of these movements don’t last, but wither away. The really significant ones are always, from the beginning, deeply rooted in the Church, even when they are critical of the Church. And, far from seeking their inspiration from extra-ecclesial sources, the long-lasting movements always went back to the authentic sources for their inspiration. So I think time will tell and the term “evangelical” will be of short duration as the Church once again reclaims her authentic vocabulary and practices.

  • Sherry W

    “Not to stereotype or over-generalize, but the baby boomers have corrupted everything they’ve ever touched, especially those who’ve involved themselves in the Church.”I’m so glad you weren’t stereotyping when you said that. So now it isn’t just those who weren’t born Catholic or use different language but now an automatic hermeneutic of suspicion toward everyone over the age of what,40? So it is now a matter of purity of *birthdate* as well as untainted religious background?Wasn’t it the 60′s, Vatican II, hippie generation who had that slogan “never trust anyone over 30?” I missed the revolution myself but I’m told that was the motto.How about not judging until you actually know a person, until they have revealed themselves and their heart and mind to you? How about assuming that they are actually telling you in good faith what they believe and hold and teach and strive to live?

  • Aimee Milburn

    Anonymous, you are uncritically including all converts in your sweeping accusations against abuses in the Church. But many, if not most, of the abuses in the Church were carried out by cradle Catholics, not by converts. Many of us are tying to correct the abuses, not continue them. I really wonder about the sources of the axe you constantly grinding.John Paul II in 1983 called for a New Evangelization (there’s that word you hate again) that is “new in ardor, methods, and expression.” That is what we are trying to do. The council of Vatican II tell us that we are to recognize what is good in other religions. The Holy Spirit is working in the Protestant world, too, because their baptism is valid. If you uncritically reject everything Protestant simply because it is Protestant, you reject the work of the Holy Spirit and go against the teachings of the Church you are so ardently trying to defend.You know, one of the great sins of the Jews, for which they were condemned by God and the Temple destroyed, is they excluded Gentiles from worshiping in the Temple. The temple was intended for all nations, but the Jews in their pride as the “chosen people” excluded the nations from approaching God.In the first days of Christianity, the Jews who had accepted Christ were very prejudiced towards the Gentile converts, considered them second-class Christians. In Rome, the Jews were the first leaders of the fledging Christian community. But after the Jews were expelled from Rome in 52 AD, the Gentile Christians took over the leadership of the Christian community. When the Jewish Christians later returned, they tried to displace the Gentile leaders because their ways were not the same. It occasioned Paul’s letter to the Romans, in which he strongly rebuked the Jewish Christians for their sinful pride that was dividing the community. What is so different in your attitude? You look down on us and judge us because you have been a Catholic longer, and think that because you were born into the Catholic faith you therefore have a superior understanding of it. You go onto blogs and write long, specious accusations, as if you are an expert, but you are not – and unlike us, you hide under a cloak of anonymity.You are like the laborer, there from the beginning of the day, resenting those who came later, but received equal pay. (Mt 20:11). Instead of loving us as your brothers and sisters in Christ, and rejoicing in the gifts we bring (as the Gentile wise men brought gifts from foreign countries to the babe Christ – and were not rejected), you nitpick, looking for things to criticize. You forget that every Catholic is a hireling, every Catholic is a convert, whether from infancy or as an adult, and the grace you have is not yours but is a gift that neither you nor anyone else is worthy.Fortunately, I don’t think many in this Catholic world are as extreme in their views as you are. Most cradle Catholics I know are very happy that converts are here, and grateful for the work we do. Most of them have told me that they think we know more about Catholicism, not less, than cradle Catholics, because we have taken the time to really study and know our faith. That’s why we became Catholic. I wish you would have the grace to grant us that, rather than constantly criticize and fault-find.Fr. Longenecker: thank you for the mention of my story. I appreciate it!

  • Anonymous

    Susan,The drug store called again. Your lithium is still ready.

  • Aimee Milburn

    Oh, by the way, Fr. Longenecker, just as an aside, I am not and have never called myself an “Evangelical Catholic,” though I am evangelical in the sense of wanting to share and spread our beautiful Catholic faith – to evangelize, which is a formal Catholic term. The term “Evangelical Catholic” came from somewhere else, not me. I am and call myself a former Evangelical, and a Catholic of the Roman rite. Make that a universal Catholic – not exclusively liberal or conservative, traditional or contemporary (though I’ve sometimes been accused of being a traditionalist, due to my love of our beautiful tradition), but really just trying to relish and embrace all the beautiful fullness of our truly universal Catholic faith, and understand and live it as well as I can.

  • Darwin

    Anon…If you were born during the time of John Paul II, then you have spent fewer years of your life as a Catholic above the age of reason than Sherry W. You may want to wait till you added to the total of those years before you throw your voice around in such a forceful manner…Also, I think the thing that you keep missing is — no one is saying that some sort of “evangelical experience” should be substituted for the mass and the other sacraments. I believe, rather, they are trying to come up with those tools which will help convince both current Catholics and future Catholics that it is necessary to come to mass and receive the sacraments in the first place.The majority of baptised Catholics in the US, who either don’t go to mass at all or do so only infrequently and casually, are in little position to be evangelized by the sacrifice of the mass itself — since they’re not there and when they do go there are not properly disposed to receive the sacrament. (Though perhaps they do so anyway.) I think the value of any lay education movement is to try to give people the first bit of understanding which will bring them to the mass in order to receive its graces. Until we get people into mass and get them to understand the most basic elements of what the Mass is, and who Christ is (so that His presence in the mass will mean something to them) the Eurcharist does not do them much good.

  • God

    Listen folks. I didn`t create the one true church so that it could exist as a holy huddle of like-minded people. The whole point is that you evangelize. I want some of you to evangelize through teaching the faith you have. Some of you are called to be prophets, some will be given supernatural gifts of healing. Some will evangelize through prayer and intercession. Some of you will evangelize by your example of suffering and trials. Some will be evangelized directly through Holy Mass. Please stop worrying about the words and let ME build my church. Thankyou. I love you all.

  • Maria

    I have listened to the radio program with a now RC Catholic priest who was formerly Evangelical. Perhaps this is one and the same.At any rate, I had to turn it off. I was raised a Roman Catholic in New York City, went to Catholic School my entire life, including a very fine Prep School. My heritage is Irish-Italian.What infuriated me about this priest was that he was a preacher, not a priest. He said he was Roman Catholic but he was determined to use the word “evangelize” and delivered his speeches in a very Protestant manner. He had too much condemnation in his voice, too much “know it all” attitude. He was not a gentle shepherd. He was not a listener. In my experience, priests listen long and hard before they speak.This radio priest was hooked on the book. He could not bring his focus off the written word of the Scripture in front of him. Because of that he couldn’t see the forest from the trees or the nose at the front of his face. Nothing about the Scipture was being analyzed in it’s greater context. They were just words to be sliced and diced. Catholicism is context. Former Protestants don’t get the miracle and the spirituality of METAPHOR. Everything is FACTUAL with them. They are glued to the word, ever period, ever y comma, every crossed t and dotted i. Because of this they miss the point.There’s POETRY and VISION in the New Testament. That cannot be expressed in black and white, cut and dry. This beauty, this depth and breadth can only be expressed in the ecstatic, in the artistic. How can one come from a religion that has stripped all the vision, all the poetry, all the metaphor, all the ART out of the worship of God and expect to know it instantly because they’ve converted? There is also the aspect of culture. Catholicism is an ethnic and cultural phenomenon. As Catholics, we appreciate that one nation’s Catholicism might be slightly different than anothers. We like that. We embrace that. I sensed from the former Evangelical Roman Catholics that they were still out to rip the ethnic culture out of everything and turn it all into suburban American white bread. You have to learn to live and let live. You have to get used to other people’s cultures. They’re still Catholic even if they don’t look “American” or “White-Anglo”.Like it or not, that vibe was shooting off everything that was said in this radio program. It made me very uncomfortable as a Catholic.Please don’t come to Catholicism because you need a Daddy, or because you need more personal regulations. Convert because you are open to exploring a far deeper beauty and deeper mysticism. Catholicism is expressed in very artistic, emotional and ecstatic ways. Step back a moment from what is tangible and allow the overwhelming and sacred mystery to consume you.

  • Jessica

    Well, I’m only another convert, so perhaps I shouldn’t weigh in here. But I can say that it was the Eucharist that both started and led me through my entire journey into the Church. It was not an emotion-led experience, nor was I looking to find “evangelical plus the sacraments.” I spent four long years reading and praying my head off. I studied and studied. That does not make me remotely special, that was just what it took in my case. I do not think I know more about the Church than cradle Catholics, but I also don’t think that being born into something automatically makes you an expert on it. I think we are all members of the Body of Christ, and that we are not all called to evangelize in the same way. A holy life evangelizes on it’s own, but of course the Eucharist, Christ, is at the center of that life. The Eucharist is the center of life, the center of our faith, at the heart of what it meants to be part of the Body of Christ. There is no way to possibly diminish that, and why would anyone ever want to? It is the meaning of our Christian life. But surely there is nothing wrong with wanting to share that faith, our Catholic faith? After all, the Catholic church is the one that evangelized the world!

  • Anonymous

    I am looking into the Catholic faith. I am currently Protestant. But I am having trouble with the idea of transubstantiation. I can see in Jesus teaching that he uses a lot of symbolism, such as “I am the vine, you are the branches.” “I am the door.” The Catholic Church does not teach that Jesus literally was a vine. So I am confused about why His body and blood are not symbolic gestures as well? I cannot seem to find a good answer to this. Can anyone help? It may be the one thing I need to convert. Thanks.