I’ve just come to the Catholic Church after a long period in Evangelical protestant Christianity. I’ve found the riches of the Church such a wonderful blessing, and can’t believe I ever lived without them.
I’ve been thinking about trying to set up a mission week/fortnight with some Catholic friends at my University’s Catholic chaplaincy. Before I suggest anything though, I want to be sure I’m not making a mess of things, or introducing errors from my protestant past into the Catholic church. As I’m a bit older than most of the other students, and have quite an intellectual tone, I’m aware that my ideas often carry more weight than they ought to, so I don’t want to make any suggestions that might lead us down the wrong path.
So anyway, I was thinking:
One of the greatest treasures the Catholic Church has is the Church Fathers. The office of readings gives an opportunity for good missionary preaching, and lets the word take centre-stage. Unlike the mass, it’s not divisive between Catholics and non-Catholics. I was thinking the group could have the office of readings every lunch-time before our University mass, inviting different people to prepare a mission talk on the theme of the readings, and then have time to talk with people over coffee (us serving coffee, them drinking it) before mass, which non-Catholics could join us for or not, as they feel comfortable.
Just how informal can the office of readings be? We wouldn’t necessarily have to have it in Church, we could hold it in a meeting room or a coffee lounge, right? Should the office be led by a priest or deacon, and the talk given by the same, or could we lead it ourselves as students? The less threatening we can make things, the better. Or am I wrong about that? Should we be making the office as reverent and as holy and as beautiful as possible, at the expense of accessibility?
Another treasure of the Church is the liturgical calendar. The Kingdom Season begins shortly after students have returned from their summer vacation, so what better time to talk about Christ and His Church.
Finally, one thing I’m bringing in from Evangelical tradition: the altar call. Of course, we can’t have an ‘altar call’ in the way the protestants do, i.e. ‘pray the prayer, then you’re a Catholic’, but what we could do is have an altar call to Mary, the seat of all wisdom. Pray a prayer at the end of the mission week mass, committing yourself to Mary’s protection, asking her to show us to the blessed fruit of her womb, Jesus, in other words, asking her to teach us about the Church. That prayer would be a commitment to come to RCIA and find out more about the Catholic Church, with a view to joining at Easter.
What do you think? Good ideas? Bad ideas? Worth talking to other students and our priest about? Is there some reason Catholics don’t tend to do this kind of large-scale evangelism in our faith? I feel so good about my faith, I just want to tell the whole world!