he thinks that Catholicism is “too rigid” and that we “don’t think for ourselves” and we just blindly obey the Pope. He thinks we lack freedom and believes we have too many “rules.”
Obviously, his impression is skewed. How would you go about showing him the breadth, beauty and diversity of a Church where you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself?
You get him the bigest, honkin’est volume of St. Augustine’s works, selective writings from St. Thomas Acquinas, a copy of the documents proceeding from Trent, Vatican I and II, and maybe a copy of Pride and Prejudice, and tell him to read all of them by next Thursday on penalty of general discontentment.
OKAY … Just kidding. You get out bibles and wager, “Whoever has the most books wins! Oh, too bad for you … Welcome to the Church!”
Or maybe not. Anyhoo, simply tell your friend that no one instantly receives a copy of the Catechism or Canon Law upon walking into any given parish. Rather, one receives the Word, the Sacrament, and the fellowship of Christ. Tell him that rooted in this, all other things proceed but are secondary, and that from personal experience, if it be true, you’ve never found the Church’s guidelines strict or oppressive–heck, they can be liberating, odd as it sounds! Tell him that they challenge one as a Christian and provide depth but are far from “rigid.”
If he’s never been, invite him to Mass. Let him see for himself. No one’s trying to re-establish the Law (well, with the exception of our Seventh-Day Adventist friends, that is) but rather simply to assist the faithful in good, Christ-centered living.