Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Prayer needed to avoid ham-handed evangelization

Most times, an opportunity for evangelism to non-Catholics surprises you. But I just got handed one that won't happen until Saturday. Suggestions and prayer needed to keep me on the right track....

A cousin is being married on Saturday. She and her fiance are Catholic, but when the Catholic Church they approached for the marriage asked them to participate in a Catholic life and to join the parish, they took that as an insult and flounced off to be married in a Baptist church instead. They are lovely young people and I am sad that they won't at this time be a part of the parish in question, a dynamic, growing, devout one.

They decided, because it's someone's favorite piece, to have Ave Maria played during their lighting of the "Unity Candle." Today, three days before the wedding, the organist refused to play it out of religious discomfort, although the pastor had (oddly, I think) consented. The couple has turned to my brother and me, who will play and sing it during the service.

I looked around the Internet and found a relatively succinct defense specifically aimed at Baptists about Catholic teaching on Mary and printed it out. Made two copies, in case the organist AND the pastor want one. I'm going to pray and be as charming as I can possibly be without ticking off the musician who will be playing my cousin's wedding music, and offer to clear up any misconceptions he has about Catholic belief. Yeesh.

If you told me three years ago that I'd prepare for a musical performance by handing out tracts to defend my faith, I'd have offered to be your designated driver.

Mary, Mother of Sorrows, pray for me!


Anonymous said...

If both parties are Catholic and they are getting married in a baptist church, then that marriage will be invalid, because the parties will not be following canonical form, to which every Catholic has been held since the Council of Trent. I would not attend the wedding, and certainly not play the Ave Maria. If Jesus is not going to the wedding, neither would I.

Therese Z said...

In charity, in love for my family, I must attend. I can only draw my confused family members to the true Church with Jesus' own love. If I wall myself away, I will not be bringing Him to all men.

What I did think was important is that I expressed my quiet but happy opinion that the Catholic parish that asked them to live a Catholic life was entirely correct, and that I wished that someone had done the same with me, when I was married. I got heat for my opinion, so I knew it was the right thing to do, and continued to express it, thankfully politely and lovingly.

It's too easy for me to remember back to earlier times in my life, when I would make similar decisions, away from the Church, out of sheer earnest ignorance, not active rejection of the Church. Once my ignorance was relieved, I couldn't get back into a true Catholic life fast enough.

Don't think I won't be praying like crazy in the pew!

Therese Z said...

Well, that was fun. The organist was so surprised that I had a "tract" for him about Mary that he burst out laughing. I am SURE I'm the first Catholic in his life who took the game to him, instead of defending. We disagreed, cordially, the music went very well, and that was that.

Where the evangelism came was at the reception. People wanted to know why we had the last minute change in musicians and got to hear the whole story. I spent the cocktail hour answering questions for vague Catholics, lapsed Catholic, pagans and some very earnest Protestants.

I can't believe how little I was taught in 12 years of Catholic education about how to evangelize.

For all who prayed, thank you. I felt accountable to you and the Holy Spirit.



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