A lack of charity

At mass yesterday, we were all asked to pray for “our Muslim brothers as they enter the season of Ramadan, that they may gain patience and virtue…” or something like that.  I whispered loudly enough that a couple of pews could hear me “and that they may convert to the true faith” before saying “Lord, hear our prayer.”

I think it’s wrong for us to fail to include a prayer for conversion when we publicly pray for infidels.  It betrays a lack of charity, that we should wish them secondary goods while failing to wish them the greatest good.  Interestingly enough, these intercessory prayers followed a homily on grace, the one good no false religion can provide.  I’ve said plenty of appreciative things about Muslims on this blog.  At its best, it fashions a man into a slave of God, which is the freest and most dignified thing a man can be through his own powers.  It can’t do what only Christianity can do, though:  make that man into a son of God through and in the Son.  Between even the highest virtue (which, to be fair, Muslims don’t reach any more than Christians do) and the indwelling of the Triune God within one’s soul, there is an infinite distance.

Suppose it were a matter of canon law:  Catholics may not pray for non-Christians during Mass without including a prayer for their conversion.  One can pray for earthquake and tsunami victims all one wants–the more the better–but one can’t refrain from wishing them the greatest spiritual as well as material goods.  I suspect if there were such a law, our Vatican II priests would just get rid of these intercessory prayers altogether.  Maybe that’s why it’s not on the books.

8 Responses

  1. At mass yesterday, we were all asked to pray for “our Muslim brothers as they enter the season of Ramadan, that they may gain patience and virtue…” or something like that. I whispered loudly enough that a couple of pews could hear me “and that they may convert to the true faith” before saying “Lord, hear our prayer.”

    I think it’s wrong for us to fail to include a prayer for conversion when we publicly pray for infidels.

    Go Bonald!

  2. Using the phrase “our muslim brothers” gives them a legitimacy they don’t have. I believe most novus ordo are under the impression that there is no need for them to convert – everyone can be saved in their own religion as long as they believe in God and try to be a good person.

  3. My favorite is our expression for the Jews: “our elder brothers in faith”, as in “while the Apostles were hiding, for fear of our elder brothers in faith”.

  4. Which is especially inappropriate as the Jewish religion is no older than Christianity. If we had to be intellectually precise about it, Christianity is older, as Judaism is based on the Talmud, which was written after the New Testament.

  5. Oh, I dunno. On one hand, while rabbinic Judaism is younger than Christianity, it is true that God did give a genuine divine revelation to the Jews before Christ.

    And on the other hand, think about elder vs. younger / youngest sons in the OT:

    Cain / Abel
    Ishmael / Isaac
    Esau / Jacob
    Reuben et al / Joseph
    Eliab et al / David

    Is calling them the elder brother all that much of a compliment?

  6. ha, good point about the birth order issue.

    “it is true that God did give a genuine divine revelation to the Jews before Christ”

    By that token, we should date the origins of Christianity to the Old Testament as well, since Christ himself is in the line of Hebrew prophets.

    The one thing we can say for certain is that both Christianity and Judaism are rooted in the religion of the ancient Hebrews. Christianity is one branch off of Hebrewism, Judaism is another branch.

    Jews are certainly NOT “elders in FAITH”. Christianity owes its concept of faith to Judaim not at all.

  7. I haven’t seen any numbers, but I would guess that in the West most Catholic converts comes from Protestants: nowadays it is the Protestants – specifically evangelical Protestants – who make the Christian converts, and then some of them move onto the Catholic Churches.

    It doesn’t seem like Catholics make much effort to cold-convert atheists/ agnostics, nor people from other religions – so maybe it isn’t surprising that this topic has fallen from the prayers?

    It will be very interesting to see what happens in China, where evangelical Protestants have apparently converted some millions, and these continue very rapidly (I saw an estimate of 20,000 per week) – will the Catholic Churches soon move in and take up some of these Chinese converts?

  8. It is a safe bet that the overall net flow between Protestantism and Catholicism is from C to P as it has always been. There is no doubt that the flow is C to P in both North and South America. It’s true, of course, in the US that most converts to Catholicism come from Protestantism, but that’s because the non-Catholic population of the US is so overwhelmingly Protestant.

    The US population is about 50% Protestant, 25% Catholic, 15% no religion, 1.5% Jewish, 1.5% Mormon, and then random other stuff. So, non-Catholic Americans are about 2/3 Protestant. Catholics get about 3/4 of their converts from Protestantism, so this is a modest over-representation. By contrast, non-Protestant Americans are about 1/2 Catholic, and Protestants get a little over half their converts from Catholicism, also a modest over-representation.

    Unaffiliated are 20% of non-Catholics and 18% of converts to Catholicism. Unaffiliated are 30% of non-Protestants and 35% of converts to Protestantism. All statistics from the Pew forum’s report.

    So there is evidence for Dr Charleton’s thesis, but it does not look to be a very large effect.

    One thing the Pew report is silent on is the demographic profile of populations flowing in various directions. Many Catholics have commented on the difference between those flowing into the Church and out of it. Outflows seem to be dominated by people who know little about their own faith and little about the faith they are converting to. Inflows seem to be dominated by people who know a lot. I’d be interested to see if converts are, say, better educated than are apostates.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: