Last week my wife expressed a desire for me to accompany her to an “Origin of the Bible” class at her Baptist church. The specific subject matter was the Deuterocanon or apocrypha as they refer to it.After expressing my interest in the subject matter, I mentioned to her that I felt a bit uncomfortable attending because she teaches Sunday school there and I did not want to be the cause of scandal for her. (I did not use the word scandal because, as far as I can tell, most Protestants, including my wife, do not understanding the use of the word in that “Catholic” context.) Now that she hung the bait I could not help but bite. So we spoke a bit about the topic and where they were in the class. But if she wishes not to reveal something you might as well give up because she is not going to give up the goods – so she did not go into any detail. Curiosity began to tickle my brain and I mentioned to her the following reasons as to why I would attend, if I actually did:
- Learn their side of the Canon story.
- Defend the Church.
- Ensure proper history and context.
She did not seem surprise or even protest to any of those reasons. She simply replied, “You know your reasons and if they are just.”Well, that was the Sunday before is past Sunday, October 17, and the night before I was going to tell my wife that I would not be joining her due to the reasons above but she spoke first and asked for some help. Her regular assistant would not be present on Sunday and she could use the extra hands. My youngest is in the same class so how could I not say yes. (The details behind that are better saved for another post). Sunday morning comes around and as usual I get up at 6am and go to the 7:30am Mass at my parish. During that Mass I asked the Lord to guide me. If it were His will, I would either be quiet or speak up. Fast forward to Sunday school class at 9:30am and I was tasked with buying some doughnuts for the adult class before the kiddies let out, so I took the opportunity of a short trip to pray earnestly to the Holy Spirit for guidance:
If it is your will, provide me the opportunity and give me the words. If it is not, please give me the patience and humility to sit quietly and learn their view. All in your glory – Amen!
The class started and there was no class. It was simply a fellowship – this week.The regular instructor was not present and requested that the class meet and “fellowship.” We did, I ate, I drank – and the Holy Spirit gave me an opportunity. You see, I began conversing with this young chap I met at a bar-b-que hosted by one of my wife’s friends from MOPS, Mothers of Preschoolers. Our conversation focused mostly on rasing kids in a secular word and some related issues. When I speak on these issues I do not hide the fact that my faith pays a very important role in my daily outlook on life – but I was not explicit in my Catholicism except for maybe referencing the Church, well, as the Church. (I do not hear that from Protestants too often.) He eventually asked me if I had been to a church like this one and I mentioned yes, “With my wife,” as I grew up in a Catholic household and remain Catholic today. There was an implication on his part concerning the denomination as it dawned on me that the way I speak of faith and the church must have allowed for plenty of allusions to the Catholicism. He went on to say that his cousin was recently ordained in Arizona and that the bishop there did not allow him to minister in his home parish. I began to speak about the hierarchy of the Church and he replied with questions that were soon answered. This went on for a good 45 minutes and to the degree that no one approached or butted in. My wife and his got up and left without saying a word – and there was no negativity afterward. At the end of our conversation, he shook my hand and left stating that it was refreshing to speak to a Christian, let alone Catholic, that was confident in his knowledge about scripture and history, etc. I thanked him and the Holy Spirit. Interestingly enough, shortly thereafter, I was approached by another person and he broached the subject of the Bible. It seemed awkward, as he had been hovering around my previous conversation, and out-of-place so I did not continue and went to sit with my wife until our departure. Leaving myself wholly at the guidance of the Holy Spirit allowed me to identify a natural opportunity to evangelize and do so with a bit of ease and confidence. This act of trust and faith also afforded me the ability to recognize when not to continue a conversation – I did not neet to know the reason why. This experience intrigued me enough to entertain the possibility of returning next week because it would appear to me all of the classic, textbook arguments against the Deuterocanon and the Church were being disseminated as evidenced by the questions and rebuttals from the initial conversation. I feel a need and call to be there so as to keep things honest and shake things up if necessary. ***But only it is the will of God!*** There is going to be a lot of prayer seeking guidance this week.