Thursday, August 25, 2011


First Baptist's pastor joked that while their next door neighbor, Saint Joseph's, right below them has spires that are taller than their church, that at least their church was on "higher ground!" We all laughed.

Last night I was invited to be a part of First Baptist Church in Macon Wednesday night Supper and adult education program. It was a very nice meal with about 100 or more in attendance. The Baptists know how to do fellowship and promote it. After the meal, children came to the microphone and said what they did that day.

After that the "deacon" of the week (she is not ordained and rotates from members) gave a run down on all the sick in their church and the home-bound and a little bit of a story on each one of them. She must have visited them all that week. It's a good way to have accountability from the visiting deacon too!

Then we sang a hymn, "All Things Bright and Beautiful" and the pastor got up and spoke for a time acknowledging anniversaries and birthdays with all singing an appropriate tune to the celebrants.

Finally it was time for me. The format was both the pastor and me sitting at chairs on a platform and the pastor asking me questions in an interview format. It was very effective.

He started by asking me about my vocation story. That graduated to why the Catholic Church is called "catholic" and when that term was first used. Then it went to papal infallibility and misconceptions Baptists have about it (Catholics too, I might add).

He asked about the Holy Eucharist and if a God-fearing, believing Baptist could received Holy Communion in the Catholic Church.

I acknowledged that we did not have "open communion" and that in recent years, for at least 10 or 15, this has become more of a source of contention with Protestants who visit Catholic Churches on Sunday or for a funeral or wedding. They are offended that they are not invited to receive in the Catholic Church, while other Protestant Churches do allow for inter-communion.

I explained that receiving Holy Communion in our Catholic tradition implies precisely that, that the person receiving is being brought into the full Communion of the Church and thus into Communion with Jesus Christ by the act of receiving Holy Communion. The symbolism of actually receiving indicates that one is a practicing, believing Catholic who believes in the Most Holy Trinity and the saving mission/sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His real presence in the consecrated Offerings. It also implies being in communion with the Church, whose visible head is the Vicar of Christ, the pope and all the bishops in union with him, especially the local bishop and pastors. It also implies that one "believes all that the Catholic Church believes teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God" not only about God but also about the Church.

Then I asked the group there, did they want to indicate all of the above by actually receiving Holy Communion in a Catholic Church? Most shook their head "no."

I also indicated that not all Catholics are free to receive Holy Communion, especially children under the age of reason; those with an impediment of some kind, i.e. invalid sacramental marriage; those who have broken the one hour fast and those in a state of "mortal sin."

I mentioned that Catholics who are conscious of grave sin in their lives must confess to a priest in the Sacrament of Penance in order to worthily receive Holy Communion. I asked if they wanted to be admitted also to Confession. No one took me up on that one.

All-in-all, it was a very nice ecumenical experience last night. I envy how Baptists "do" fellowship and the sense of "belonging and ownership" their members have for their church. I also envy that they have smaller congregations and normally only two Sunday morning services. They have a very strong tradition of Sunday School for all ages and sometimes more adults attend Sunday school than the actual Sunday service.


Gene said...

I saw a cartoon once, in Christian Century, that showed a convivial group of pastors from different denominations standing around laughing and socializing. Standing off to the side behind a tree, with his arms folded tightly on his chest and a frown on his face, was a lone figure in a suit. The caption under the frame was, "Southern Baptist in a fit of ecumenical fervor." LOL!

Templar said...

Well, that seems like a real ecumenical effort you undertook Father.

I do not envy them their "fellowship", as it is all they have. A closed circle, staring in upon itself, telling themselves how great is God, and how Blessed they are by his presence in their lives, without ever taking the opportunity to give him the Homage he deserves and desires. They will thank every "Miss Bobbi Sue" for the wonderful Macaroni and Cheese she brought, but never once drop down on their knees in adoration of Christ. They can have their fellowship for a life time, for me it's not worth as much as One Hour in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

qwikness said...

Baptists and Protestants in general think that it is not fair that they aren't allowed to receive communion at a Catholic church. Did you say that we couldn't receive communion at their church either because our church won't let us.

Gene said...

Besides, who wants to share in what is deemed, "The Lord's Supper?" "Hey, Bobby Joe, pass the biscuits and keep your sleeve out of the gravy!"

Anonymous said...

It is radically different. Templar, I sort of admire their fellowship and miss the parishes I have been in that had it along with strong faith formation. Recently a young man in our parish told me how he had lived for a while in Georgia and really liked the way the Methodists had a strong fellowship in a social sense. He had attended the Methodist church for awhile and although returned to the Catholic Church missed that aspect of it. My brother lives near Nashville, TN and told me about the Communion Happy Meals (his term) of wafers and wine or grape juice in little blister packs that look like cheese and crackers. And you can go back for seconds!!! They look at the body and blood in a totally different manner. A lot their theology is sort of ad hoc based on their interpretation of the Bible. This is where so many get worked up over 'contradictions'. Don't even get started on Revelations.

Nice folks who really, really want to believe.

Templar said...

Radically different indeed. "Fellowship" may be nice (and who wouldn't agree) but it's not what Faith should be based upon. So many of the Protestant Sects have made Fellowship the sum total of their worship, about we, me, us, that it misses the point entirely. While we may enjoy the opportunity to socialize after Mass, or belong to a group of like minded individuals who all attend the same parish, it's all just "extras". Meaningless without the Mass, and the Mass is not about fellowship but Worship.

I've always been struck by the fact that Catholics say they are "going to Mass" while all my Prot friends say they are going to "Worship Service" (or worse just Church), but what are they Worshiping? Each other? The band playing bad Pop music? The donuts? The Pastor in the suit pounding his Bible? What could they be Worshiping? By their own admission Christ is a figure who died 2000 years ago and hasn't been around since; their Communion a mere symbol.

Nice folks who really, really want to believe you say? In what say I? That being a Christian will make them feel good, or make good things happen in their life? Or saying the magic words "Jesus is my personal Lord and Savior" gets them a 1st Class ticket to Heaven? I want to believe that Christ will give me the strength to endure the penance I must do for the sins I have committed; that he will give me the character to humble myself before Him and Mary the Blessed Queen of Heaven; that I will accept his will for me always, without doubt or hesitation, in all things, and that I understand I will be hated by the world for all these things, because it hated him first. The gate to heaven is narrow we are told, how are those Protestants going to react when they find out they can't all fit through as a "Fellowship Group"? :)

Anonymous said...

I too saw a cartoon once, in Christian Millennium, that showed a convivial group of pastors from different denominations standing around laughing and socializing. Standing off to the side behind a tree, with his arms folded tightly on his chest and a frown on his face, was a lone figure in a suit. The caption under the frame was, "Templar in a fit of ecumenical fervor." LOL!

Anonymous said...

I too saw a cartoon once, in Christian Millennium, that showed a convivial group of pastors from different denominations standing around laughing and socializing. Standing off to the side behind a tree, with his arms folded tightly on his chest and a frown on his face, was a lone figure in a suit. The caption under the frame was, "Templar in a fit of ecumenical fervor." LOL!

Anonymous said...

Belief and forgiveness is important to them but seems to be very different from Catholic belief and forgiveness. It is a push button affair that is based on simple verbal affirmation of belief with no demanding link to change of behavior. This is dangerously close to current Catholic behavior. People would go to confession but continue to act out their deeper beliefs. Now we don't even go to confession but rarely.

Another issue is condemnation. A friend of mine has left the Church because, he claims, someone said someone was going to hell because they were not Catholic or Christian. I experienced this when I was child from some well intentioned and possibly accurate Protestants. While it is not our place to condemn we certainly should warn. Protestants earn their name when they acclaim their faith and warn others that they are risking damnation. Our priest, in what was likely ecumenical fervor, announced in a homily that if p you wanted to be a Wiccan or other religion, God bless you, but his choice is Christian and Catholic. I suppose I should have been relieved at that level of commitment but I think a LITTLE more evangelism would have been acceptable. I am not a good appologist but am comfortable within my limits and am willing to proclaim the Truth of the Church. Mainly because I am willing to hand the person off to folks like many that attend this blog. Fellowship is seeking Christ in someone else, the eclectic group of people in my parish challenge me in that search. I am hoping that just MAYBE one of you guys will offer me hand when I am struggling through that narrow place.


Templar said...

Hehe. My idea of Ecumenism is to tell my Prot friends not to worry, they may not be Catholic now, but if they make it to heaven they'll be Catholic then.

One Church, founded by Christ and built upon the foundation of St Peter. That Church is dividied into 3 parts; Church Militant on Earth, Church Suffering in Purgatory; and Church Triumphant in Heaven, ipso facto, however you manage to acquire Heaven, for God's Mercy is limitless, one thing is certain, when you get there you will be part of the One (and ONLY) Church he founded, which is the Catholic Church and you will be part of it then whether you like it or ot.

Drives 'em nuts.

Anonymous said...

What theology underlies you'll be Catholic in heaven "whether you like it or not"?

If being Catholic can be imposed, why not get a papal decree from Pope Benedict right now declaring everyone, whether they like it or not, to be Catholic.

Is there not at free choice needed here? Can we simply do away with the grace of conversion? When a person enters the Church now through Baptism or profession of faith, it must be freely chosen/accepted. What changes in heaven?

Gene said...

Presumably, Anonymous, in Heaven we will know the Truth. Presumably, Anonymous,the Truth will be that the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church was faithful to the end and that you and I will be there because of Christ's mercies shed through Her. Other denominations will be there, too, and we get to ask them questions like, "Wow, how was your first million years in Purgatory?"

Anonymous said...

"Other denominations will be there too..."


Anonymous said...

Father - are you saved yet? Did anyone give you a chik trac on the way out the door??? -pgal