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Sunday, February 1, 2009


From Talks to Legionaries by Fr. F. Ripley

We might define apostleship as the pouring of faith in
and love of Christ into the mind and heart of another.
It is the radiating of conviction rather than the
spreading of knowledge. This becomes evident when we
consider the conversions of the early days of
Christianity. They were brought about by the common
people, the workman, the slave, the little, feeble and
oppressed members of that powerful, rich, enlightened
society in which they lived. The fact is that then and
now every convinced Catholic, even though his
knowledge of his faith is imperfect, has a certain
mental picture of what the Church means to him and
possess the capacity to convey this impression to the
mind of another whom he seeks to influence. Our
Handbook quotes a former Archbishop of Birmingham as
saying, ”We must always remember that religion is
caught, not taught. It is a flame set alight from one
person to another; it is spread by love and not in any
other way. We take it only from those whom we think
friendly to us. Those whom we regard as indifferent or
hostile cannot recommend religion to us.”

Argument, controversy and bitterness must be avoided
by Legionaries like the plague. We might almost make
it a principle that when we win an argument we lose a
soul. If we put ourselves in the position of a
non-Catholic who finds his beliefs being attacked by a
Catholic we will have to admit that the first thing we
would do under such circumstances would be to go out
and find an answer to the Catholic’s attacks or
objections. When our faith is criticised by our
separated brethren we may know the answer or, if we do
not, we soon find one. Therefore, attacking the
beliefs of others or attacking others in any way at
all is not the Legionary’s way of apostleship.
We may meet those who are fond of bandying texts. They
will quote the Scriptures and give the impression that
they are experts. But we ought not to let them make
the ground. Gently and ever so sweetly we ought to ask
a few simple questions about the authority for what
they quote. How do they know that it is inspired word
of God? Who told them that so many books made up the
whole Bible? Who made the choice of those books from
the many which are in circulation in the fourth
century? How do they know that their interpretation of
the texts is correct when it is questioned by many
other non-Catholics? Let them see that they need an
authority. They may appeal to the Holy Spirit. With
kindness we can point out that is what so many people
do who contradict one another in essentials and so
make the eternal Spirit of Truth responsible for
contradiction- and that is surely absurd.

Above all, out technique with both lapse Catholics and
non-Catholics should be to make them appreciate the
treasures of the Church. Tell them something about the
wonders of intimacy with Christ really present in the
Holy Eucharist. Talk to them enthusiastically about
the Eucharistic devotions in our Church. Let them know
how we love the Mass and why. Speak to them about the
liturgical year and how it makes Christ live again in
our lives. Tell them about the lives of the Saints,
never hesitating to point out that all those whose
names are household words were Saints because they
lived up to the means of holiness which the Catholic
Church offers to all. Tell them of the happiness of
being able to turn to the Church for certain guidance
in the moral problems which perplex the human race
today. Speak to them of the joy which comes when we
know that our sins have been forgiven in confession.
Bring them in spirit to the grotto at Lourdes, God’s
miracle factory, and sweetly explain the significance
of the heavenly things which have taken place there.
Do not hesitate to talk to them about the love of Mary
as a dear Mother who inevitably leads us to the Heart
of her Son.

That is our aim, rather like that of the modern
walk-round store. People go in, never intending to
spend a penny. They see something they think they
want. There and then they decide to buy it; so with
our Catholic faith. Most of those outside know little
about it. More often than not such knowledge as they
have is false or inadequate. Those who think they have
a true picture of it have but a caricature. Even those
who have fallen away have probably only a blurred or
prejudiced image in their minds. By speaking to them
simply but enthusiastically about our deepest
convictions we will make them jealous and desirous of
possessing our treasures. Our aim must be to attract
them to the Church. Our greatest ally in this is the
holy Mother of God.

From Paul C.

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