Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Discerning the Church

Our undercover correspondent we keep on retainer in an Atlantic seaboard city that knows how to keep it's secrets, Guy Noir - Private Eye, writes:
John Thayer Jenson over at Called to Communion posted this fine comment:
I remember saying to my wife once, when [we] were in via, that I had felt my life as a Christian, which only started when I was 27, had been like a man walking through a fog – occasionally glimpsing some Shape appearing through the mists, and then disappearing – and wanting to know more about It – then one day things cleared more than usual and I realised that what I had seen all along was the Catholic Church.
It made me think of David Mills recent piece in NOR, "The Whole House" (New Oxford Review, October, 2014):
Some Catholics speak of sharing their faith with others as if being a Catholic were secondary and relatively unimportant, as if by being or becoming any sort of Christian a person has arrived home. I’ve heard this from Catholics of all sorts, often in reaction to something I’ve written on apologetics. Catholics have told me they would not even think about discussing Catholicism with their evangelical friends, whose faith they believe to be complete as is. I have been told twice, once by a very conservative priest, to beware of “Catholic chauvinism” because I’d suggested that, all things considered, being a Catholic is better than not being a Catholic. A goodly number of Catholics have disparaged even the idea of arguing for the Church, explaining that Catholics should witness by the way we live and that arguments will only drive people away. Some have even suggested that the Church “forbids us to proselytize,” defining the word very broadly.

... But the Catholic must still, when he can, tell his Protestant friends that they should complete their faith by entering the Catholic Church. They are in sight of home but are not home.

In the preface to Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis described the Church as a house with various rooms occupied by different traditions, including Catholicism. It’s not that good an image, even from his point of view, but it does give us one way of understanding our relation to our Protestant friends. Lewis would not have accepted this reimagining of his metaphor, but Catholics, who know that the Church isn’t merely one denomination among others, will know that the Catholic Church is the house, and the rooms are occupied by the various rites within the Church. To enter the house, one must be a member of the family. Friends may set up homes in the yard. They are within the pale, the relation the Church calls “real but imperfect communion.” Read more >>
[Hat tip to G.N.]


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