September 16, 2005

Ut Unum Sint

My evangelical wife and I had a disastrous night at bible study last night. It was called "Catholic Scripture Study" but I didn't think it'd be controversial since it was on the Book of Genesis.

Well, turns out this first day was devoted not to Genesis but an overview of how the bible came to be. You can see the trouble a' brewing. The Dominican friar made comments like "evangelicals often don't know the bible but just memorize snippets" and that Protestants "don't understand the context of Scripture"; "Catholics believe God is powerful enough to have protected his Word over the eons and not just given it to us at one moment in time like the Muslims believe in the Koran." (i.e. that Mohammed was a scribe taking dictation, and the friar joked that some fundamentalists believe that God scribed the "thees and thous" of the King James version.)

My wife said that the whole atmosphere is so "us against them", i.e. Catholics against Protestants and it felt so. At break we took her NIV out to the car after the negative comments were made towards that version. She mentioned how glad she was that her pastor doesn't take shots at Catholics (she offered the example of how her pastor could say that most Catholics don't know the bible very well). She also said that she believes God isn't limited by the Church in order to make sure his Word is protected and that therefore it's not only Catholics who believe God protected his Word through the eons.

There were chuckles in the audience. Those poor, benighted fundamentalists. The bible study seemed to go on forever and she said afterward, not without reason, that Catholics are prideful. How does one say that Catholicism contains the fullness of truth and not sound prideful? I remember Bishop Sheen once referred to the differences between Catholics and Protestants as a "lover's quarrel". And I recall how our current Pope envisions not the conversion of Protestant denominations folded into Roman Catholicism but that as we both move forward, both progress, both move closer to Christ, our unity will be a natural byproduct. Those seem to be the ways to approach division. St. Cyprian, whose feast is today, wrote "Charity is the bond of brotherhood, the foundation of peace, the steadfastness and firmness of unity."
___

UPDATE: Good emails in response from KTC and Roz.

KTC:
Maybe you can persuade her to do the Universal Church a service and go back-for THEIR sakes! People of BOTH SIDES who proudly sport poles up their a**es need to see that their "opponents" are living, loving believers and not some kind of bug-eyed Satanists.

As far as the evangelical question, "why would anyone consort with such an arrogant yet ignorant bunch?" I say,

"It's the Eucharist."

Note that I DO NOT say, "It's the Eucharist, Stupid!"
What makes that more poignant is KTC has limited access to the sacraments. Roz also emailed:
There are so many ways that Catholics understand the Holy Scriptures that don't have to encompass how "our" understanding is better than "theirs." Drat. Sorry you walked into a buzz saw. Charitably, the study leader probably had no idea how he came across to a member of the "separated brethren" or even that it was an issue.

Catholics are indeed pretty prideful - why should we be different from the rest of fallen mankind. We're also thoughtless at times, well illustrated by your experience. It especially hurts, though, when stuff like this pokes its ugly head into the sacramental bond of the unity of husband and wife.

May God take this opportunity to give you and your wife the grace to come to a more complete understanding of each others' true hearts and Christ's love.

Sigh. Living in a world of sinner is a tough trial. Pray for us, holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

No comments: