The Importance Of The Missionary Spirit

The Importance Of The Missionary Spirit

Until that ship has reached its destination, there is always the chance that you might fall overboard.


What tends to irk me about some of my fellow Catholics, especially those in the Traditional circle, is the lack of a missionary spirit. Many, it seems, would prefer to stay in their little bubble and not associate with those who don't think as they do unless they need to.

There was a point when I didn't think it was any of my business to talk to others about God. Do I go out there and try to bring others in? My answer now is "of course!" If we honest-to-goodness think that what we believe as Catholics is the only way to salvation, then it's our responsibility to do so. I don't say that to be a snob. Not at all.

The dogma "Ex Cathedra nulla salus" should rather be seen as a motivation to climb onto the boat. If you have a good and sturdy boat and you see someone on a rickety raft, ignoring the state of the raft for the sake of "being nice" may result in your neighbor sinking because you never bothered to really help.

I was confused as to how I ought to approach the business of "drawing others in" when my family first began following the Traditional Catholic lifestyle (We were Novus Ordo Catholic before). I asked a parishioner and she was shocked, going on a spiel about how my suggestion of going missionary was "much too liberal," that "we are chosen, they are not", and "What is else is to expect from a convert?"

It turned out that she was wrong, just a snob and a really bad influence. The missionary spirit actually isn't liberal at all. Religious indifference is. The modernistic idea that leaked into the Church in the Second Vatican Council that one religion is just as good as the next actually destroyed the missions. Additionally, being Catholic is no guarantee to salvation.

It's a chance. Until that ship has reached its destination, there is always the chance that you might fall overboard.

The snobs that do exist are a threat to the prospect of converts. The saying goes that we can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Even when you are not making apologetic arguments, your presence: the way you dress, talk, and overall behave are supposed to be representative of the Catholic church.

Failing to act Christlike or treating others uncharitably can result in someone who may be in need of conversion turning down a chance because he or she may get the sense of hypocrisy. There is a story that Gandhi once considered becoming a Christian but he never did because the church he tried to enter didn't welcome those of his caste or race.

I don't know what denomination of Christian that church was. In theory, I doubt it was a Catholic church because Catholic means "universal" and its missionary efforts are to extend to all people from every part of the world, every race, class, occupation. It is diverse on the superficial level and its members are supposed to be united by the same set of beliefs and by charity.

Segregating a church by class and race is really absurd. A missionary doesn't look at individuals and see a class or a race. A missionary considers that the individual has an immortal soul that must be saved.

Another turn-off can be the confusion between the sin or error and the person. Someone with an attachment to any sins or who believes in something erroneous shouldn't be treated without charity. We hate the sins. We hate the errors. We're not supposed to hate the people themselves.

Keep in mind that charity and mercy do not mean that we turn a blind eye to the sin or error or act like it's okay. Doing that to "be nice" is fake mercy, letting the person go further astray. Admonishing sin is an act of charity. Maybe it will be hard for an individual to hear, but failing to correct someone when he's in the wrong may result in the corruption and loss of his soul.

Don't be nasty about it. Remember that if it wasn't for the Grace of God, you could possibly be even worse off and, vice versa, your neighbor could have been an even more virtuous person than you.

I sometimes think, had my Trad Cat friends seen me before my family converted, would they have treated me the same as they do now? Would they have judged me? Would they have prayed for me? Would they have started a conversation about tradition and how the Church was messed up by modernism? (It's a complicated and confusing matter so I don't think I'd recommend it for a first encounter but I would recommend brushing up your apologetics.)

I've taken an apologetics course in Catholic school and I would like to learn more about it. I know that the Angelus Press publishing company has books about reasonably defending and explaining the Faith to others that could be looked into. Remember that apologetics isn't about winning the argument. You can explain away for hours and some may still not buy it.

At the end of it all, the individual you are talking with must make an act of faith willingly. You can't force anyone to convert. My Apologetics professor described apologetics as a bridge. You can lead others across to the gate at its end (the gate signified an act of faith) but you can't make anyone cross the threshold.

I saw my mom lose her best friend by being too pushy with her newfound knowledge. Maybe whoever you speak with might not be disposed to conversion right now. There might be another time, later, when he or she will become willing to change. Being pushy or forceful does more harm than good. Make sure to pray for your neighbor as well.

Our Lady of Fatima said to the shepherd children, "Many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray for them or to make sacrifices." Prayer and sacrifice may help to bring about a conversion. Offering work hours and everyday chores to God is one thing I do (like St. Therese with her "Little Way") and I would suggest offering those for a soul in need.

I honestly do this more than active apologetics, which I think I need more preparation for. Sometimes it's just not the time or the place for it. I've worked with a classmate who I knew was of another religion for a project. Our focus is on the project. I spoke to her like I would anyone else, in a friendly manner. I don't agree with the ideology and beliefs she has. They aren't compatible with mine. Yet we never brought religion up, only spoke of the project.

I did pray for her, so when my inner critic accused me of being "ecumenical," I answered, "At least I prayed for her." It might not be the time for her yet but maybe it will make a difference.

Maybe you are living your own life thinking that spreading the Faith isn't your job. Don't wait for someone else. Learn deeper about your Faith and the reasons why you believe what you do. Prepare to answer the questions people might ask you about it. Maybe helping someone to convert was the reason you even exist.

Who knows? Do you believe that your Faith truly saves? Are you convinced that your boat is the seaworthy one? Then throw that life preserver! It's up to your neighbor whether or not to grab on but it's better then never having thrown it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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