I’ve been waiting for two years, and finally got a chance just last night! My husband and I eat often in a little restaurant where a really great Evangelical family also are regulars. Sometimes the wife has been a little “edgy” with her “former-Catholic-but-I-saw-the-light” digs, and questions like: “Why do you worship Mary?” “Why do you pray to statues when it says in the Bible . . .”
Last night, she was talking about letting out a four-letter word in a conversation at work, and how she apologized for it and prayed for patience in the future. So I shared my story of having once (once?) confessed that I had re-named my lawn mower “Jesus” in a fit of frustration after 14 gut-wrenching pulls on the starter cord. The punch line of this little story is that I think every priest who hears this in confession should have to start his own lawn mower before passing judgment on his penitent.
So naturally, this led to the usual: “Do you go to confession? Can’t you just confess to God? Only God forgives sins.” You know the drill. I was able to set up a tidy little non-confrontational presentation of John 20:23 and why Catholics believe in sacramental confession. I launched with: Yes! I get to confession about once a month. It’s one of the BEST things about being Catholic. You have no IDEA what graces come through that sacrament!
My goal for this bunch is just to get 'em to understand that Catholics are Christians. That we don’t worship statues or Mary. That (here’s the biggie) the Catholic Church is more Scripture-based than any Protestant denomination.
When it comes to people like these, I am a great believer in sound-byte evangelism. Their armor is so tough they can’t sustain anything more drawn out. E.g., “The Catholic Church has never taught that we can be saved by our own works apart from Christ.”