Something I have been thinking about after some conversations with friends, how honest should you be about your struggles when talking about your faith with other people? I’m not a natural evangelist but do want to do better and would love to see people around me come to the Catholic faith.
However I have my struggles (in my case more with parish life than belief if that makes sense) and I do sometimes talk about my frustrations with my friends who also talk about their own issues at their churches. Does this make me a bad Catholic? I try not to talk down the Catholic Church but I do feel like I should be honest when talking about my faith, the good and bad side of it.
I guess my real question is how honest should I be?
It’s not anyone but your confessor’s business, really. :shrug:
If they are not Catholic, can they offer you advice that would be beneficial to you, or does it appear you are unhappy in your faith or at minimum conflicted about it?
I would consider that first.
I would say what you describe above makes you currently very honest and admirable. You talk freely about the good, the bad, and the whatever. To filter yourself and just try to show one side would be dishonest and low “tactics”.
Being honest does not mean revealing all our thoughts and feelings. When someone is new to something, it is usually appropriate to withhold some things, at least for a time, because some information would not be not helpful to the person at that time, particularly if they don’t have the experience or context to put it in proper perspective. And in the case of faith, truth builds on truth. You start with the basics and the positive things, let those become firmly established, then work from there. This is not deception; it’s just using good judgment. That said, you don’t have to pretend parish life is a bed of roses. People will see through that anyway.
Thanks for all the comments, just to clarify I’m not thinking of leaving the Catholic Church, my faith is important to me. My struggle is more that I really don’t feel at home in church and honestly sometimes would rather stay home and watch a mass podcast and have the Eucharist delivered.
None of my closest friends are Catholic, many are practicing Christians and all genuinely care about me but obviously their outlook and advice comes from a non-Catholic perspective. For example many of them don’t get why I insist on going to mass every week. Other times we’ll both be talking about our similar struggles to get involved with church life which isn’t so denomination specific anyway.
I think I need to make sure I have a balance between the good and the bad I guess. I would like to encourage and set a good example but I don’t want to start acting like a second hand car salesman.
Ah yes, I can understand where you’re coming from. There is areally great doorways of evangelization right there. “Why do you insist on going to Mass every week?” “Well…” And give them the breakdown of how beautiful the Mass truly is, the meaning of it, what happens when the priest does the consecration, what we receive, and even for those not in communion, what they are in the presence of. Definitely look up some resources of the Mass itself, like Ascension Presents, Bishop Robert Barron, Chris Stefanick on YouTube.
As for parish/church life, it’s like anything else when different personalities and wills are involved. It’ll be difficult at times and truly rewarding at other times. Just remember the people of God are sinners, and in no way do the people of God invalidate God or His Church
Also, what helps make parish life easier for me is developing a good relationship with a fellow parishioner that also helps out either a choir member, the sexton, etc. or even one of the priests (pastor or parochial vicar), someone you look forward to seeing and talking with.
Of course if anything else, because it is understandable that even in a parish community some just don’t feel welcome, which is very shameful and unchristian, but it happens because we’re sinners, at least keep in mind that is where Christ is in real life and in real time. All other things, struggles, exclusions, etc. fall away when you fix your gaze on Christ, meditating upon the Tabernacle, going to Mass to receive the Lord of the universe into our frailty. That fixed gaze on Christ in faithfulness is the best evangelization one can ever do without even speaking a word.
Hope that was helpful.
May the peace and love of Christ be with you and Bless you Lucy.
Thank you for your comments. I think you are right some of these conversations are giving me the a chance to talk about why going to mass is important to me.
I am emotionally in a better place with the parish situation, while at university I was part of a wonderful community and I think I had unrealistic expectations of ordinary parish churches. I’m more accepting of my situation now and am no longer angry. I accept that we are all only human and most likely doing our best. I am at my 3rd church now and am at least in the habit of greeting people and trying to go to as many church events as I can.
Focusing on the Eucharist is definitely the way forward, many of my non-Catholic friends fell away after being unable to find churches that were a good fit but I have the presence which keeps me there.
I think some questions will always be awkward like ones about fellowship and there have been incidents where I have taken a friend to church tea and coffee and they were horrified that no one spoke to us but i think I am getting better at talking about my faith and I hope it continues.
Maybe you should talk about a shared hobby (very few of those are as evil as most Catholics think). Also when you are at church teas/receptions.
Church life has to have a mutual component between members. If that is duller where you are now that it was at your old chaplaincy, it is a tough thing to go through, as I have witnessed myself.
We need to pray that people will come to faith in Christ whether we talk to them about it or not, and whether other church members join in or not.
In so far as content is concerned once such a conversation gets going, don’t advertise a Lemony Snicket style series of unfortunate events. Life on life’s terms is tough but it is in the teeth of the provident God. Be guided by the unforced curiosity of your interlocutor.
If people aren’t intensely harassing you, an air of mysterious contentment - especially with all your wholesome hobbies - will speak volumes.
When I taught RCIA, I shared every negative thing that I could about being Catholic with my classes. All of it. And, as I did it, I also pointed out which Protestant churches did a remarkable job of doing those things that our local church particularly failed at. We have some great Protestant churches for networking, socializing, daycare, education, celebrations, Bible Study, vacation Bible School (often free of charge and including free meals for your children while Mom & Dad enjoy their date nights), and even athletic facilities (one local church built a better facility than the YMCA and another has the best ball fields around). There are Welcoming committees that are absolutely amazing, Prayer & Care groups that will drive you to church, loan you money and I even had a friend whose kitchen was remodeled free of charge while she was out of work. They run ALL of the soup kitchens, homeless shelters and thrift stores. Let’s just say that our parish had none of these things. I told them that there was absolutely no reason at all to join our parish - except for the Eucharist.
The way I see it, if Jesus was NOT truly present, then there would be no reason whatsoever to join our parish. But if Jesus IS truly present in the Eucharist, then nothing could keep me away. That’s the basis of my faith anyway.
If it was me, I would share it all. I would not want anyone to enter the Church looking for some worldly benefit only to be disappointed by getting the God of the Universe instead.
Again thanks for your comments. I think what I will take from this is that it is important to talk about the presence and I am getting better at doing so. I will continue to answer my friends questions honestly though. There is one friend in particular who is non-Catholic and stopped going to church and while I have been praying for his return I know he would feel lonely in a typical parish. I will keep praying for him though.