Last week, I was at a morning gathering held by one of the parishes we serve. It was quaint little coffee talk after Mass and Adoration. However, for me it turned out to be one of the most troubling experiences in my faith walk.
A man sat down next to me about five minutes into the gathering, pulled out his Bible, and promptly began telling me how he was not Catholic, doesn’t agree with the Catholic Church, and that all Catholics don’t read the Bible. I responded with, “On the contrary sir, I read my bible all the time. In fact, mine is marked up with highlighter and bookmarks and is falling apart at the binding because I read it so much.” After he heard this, he told me good job for reading the Bible, and then went on to tell me, in full detail, which Church teachings he disagreed with and even had Bible verses that “supported his case.” Goody. It was my lucky day…
About fifteen minutes into our conversation, I was fuming. I wanted nothing more than to give this man a piece of my mind. Who was he to come into a Catholic Church and persecute me in my own place of worship? But, trying to humble myself, I let him have his stand on his soapbox. After I thought he was done, I simply gave him a lesson in some of the Church teachings he had just told me were wrong. I tried to gently tell him he is entitled to his opinion, but to understand that other people hold these teachings very dear to them. However, no matter what I said, he always had a rebuttal, or a Bible verse that disclaimed what I had just stated.
After a few minutes more, he told me that when he left, the Holy Spirit would leave as well. He didn’t believe that the Holy Spirit dwelled in any of the people gathered or in the Catholic Church we were in. He said that since we didn’t believe in the truth, we weren’t worthy enough to have the Spirit dwell in us. I was very disheartened by this point. I left there feeling defeated, like I didn’t protect and fight for my faith enough. My community kept telling me that I did everything right and I had nothing to be ashamed of, but this feeling of emptiness completely surrounded me.
It wasn’t until I talked to one of my missionary sisters that I felt a little bit better. She told me that there are always going to be people who are going to tell me I am wrong and aren’t going to listen to me when I fight for myself and for my God. They are there to only hear themselves talk. Also, I am giving an entire year of my life to follow Christ and to grow closer to Him. The Evil One is going to use events like this to keep me from moving forward and growing closer to my God. I am doing good work, why wouldn’t Satan try to stop me?
And in response to this man telling me the Holy Spirit doesn’t dwell in me (or in other Catholic people), Pope John Paul II begs to differ. He stated in his encyclical, Mission of the Redeemer, “every authentic prayer is prompted by the Holy Spirit, who is mysteriously present in EVERY human heart.”
So don’t let nay-sayers get you down! After all, Jesus states, “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”