As Catholics we do not proselytize, but rather, we attract people to our Christian faith. These comments echo the words of Pope Benedict XVI, which the Capuchin friar, Fr. Luciano Lotti, reiterated in his February catechesis for the Padre Pio Prayer Groups.
Attraction is reflected in the life of Jesus. People are drawn to Our Saviour by not only what He teaches, but how He radically lived by human standards; and yet, Jesus lived the fullness of life that we are all called to live. Jesus came so that we might have life in abundance (John 10:10).
So, we can ask ourselves: “Would people know what Christianity teaches by the way I live my life? Would there be coherency between what my faith professes and how I live it?” (Also, words echoing Pope Benedict XVI.) Finally, what makes Catholicism attractive that draws others to our communities of worship?
The Catholic Church is not a Club where people who share similar “club” values can hang out. Christ did not die to create a club. Christ offered Himself for us as a sacrifice. Jesus’s sacrifice on the Cross is the true meaning of Love. Anything outside of sacrifice is cheap love. A fake version of the real thing. Sacrifice and love are fundamentally inseparable. To be drawn to Catholic teaching means to be drawn to what Christ teaches: Truth. And truth attracts, just as the beautiful attracts, just as goodness attracts.
People are attracted to holiness.
The cheap vulgarity of disordered pleasure, the ecstasy of power, and fame that usurps the Creator is not attraction, it’s a reminder of the Golden Calf that has not left us: a dead end – a downhill spiral that leads to hell.
St. Padre Pio had an austere formation as a capuchin friar, a rough life in terms of health, and ongoing diabolical attacks. He lived and died for the same Truth Christ taught; the same love Christ offered. Padre Pio fulfilled his call to sanctity as a human being created by God, but living by, and cooperating with, God’s grace, dependant on the life-giving Sacraments of the Church.
For those seeking truth, and goodness, and beauty, certainly Catholicism is attractive – our faith leads us to Eternal Salvation which Christ offers by the Blood of His Cross. How can this not be attractive? We are not the ones to make the Christian religion attractive; Christ has already achieved this for us. But each one of us holds the light of Christ, the light of our Baptism, that attracts, and leads us through darkness.
Christ attracts; the beautiful cannot be hidden. Truth can be silenced but not denied. The One who attracts is Christ because we are drawn by Love.