Q. How can I share with non-Catholics about the Catholic Church being one, holy, universal, and apostolic without coming off as pompous and self-righteous?
A. It is not easy. The Church recently released a document called "Dominus Iesus" about the truth that Jesus is the only path to salvation for us, as well as the central place that the Church holds in His plan. And, we were accused of being pompous and self-righteous by many critics.
Apologetics, or explaining truths of our Catholic faith to non-Catholics, is a delicate field. Jesus said that the truth shall set you free, but not everyone is always ready to hear and receive the truth. Saint Francis of Assisi once said to his friars, "Preach the gospel at all times -- use words if necessary." Our actions should speak louder than our words.
However, when appropriate, we can ask the Holy Spirit to give us an opening to share our faith with our friends who are not Catholic. Knowing what to say and how to say it is crucial. Transmitting the truth with love and respect is so important. Our Holy Father is a great example of this in his travels. It is also necessary to have a good grasp of our faith if we want to share it with others. To learn more about our belief in the one, holy, universal, and apostolic nature of the Catholic Church, refer to the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" (214-230). To learn more about ecumenism, look in the "Catechism" (820-822).
Don't try to convince people in a day. Share your faith with love and patience. And remember the image of the mustard seed in Scripture. You might not think that you are making any progress, but God is working in a hidden way in the background!
Q. What is life like for Marians who serve in mission countries like Brazil? How can I support them?
A. I can't tell you from personal experience since I've never been there. But I have met some of our missionaries, and their lives sound fascinating. We have Marians working in Brazil and Argentina in South America, in Rwanda and Cameroon in Africa, and in Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in the former Soviet Union.
In the Summer 2001 issue of Marian Helper ("Faith defies adversity"), there was a wonderful article by Br. Silvio Roberto, MIC -- one of our Brazilian seminarians. (See our archived issues.)
Since Br. Silvio lived with us in the United States for a year to study English, I can give you some highlights. The priests celebrate many Masses on Sunday and often have to travel to small outlying mission chapels. There is terrible poverty in Brazil, especially in the larger cities. Our men minister in Brazilian ghettos called favelas in Rio de Janiero, which can be rather dangerous because of street violence.
If you would like to support a special mission project, please call 1-800-462-7426 and ask for Ellen Volkman. (Also see this issue's "In the News" feature on helping poor children in Brazil.)
Q. Many people simply want to spread Divine Mercy, so why do the Marians insist on copyrighting their own Divine Mercy materials? Shouldn't all of us just be trying to spread the message?
A. We all should be trying to spread the message of Divine Mercy. Jesus wants to reach every soul to the ends of the earth with this message of His mercy!
The reason there is a copyright on Divine Mercy materials is to protect the purity of the message. Sometimes the Divine Mercy message -- especially in the forms revealed to St. Faustina -- is combined with other pious devotions or non-approved private revelations in materials that are then distributed to the faithful. At times, even the prayers are changed.
Our province of the Marians has been entrusted with spreading the authentic message of Divine Mercy. We fulfill this important responsibility by copyrighting our materials. We do assist and encourage others in using our source materials as long as any excerpts are reviewed and approved by our copyright office.
For specific copyright information, call 413-298-1360, or write to: Mimi Romaniak, Marian Helpers Center, Stockbridge, MA 01263. Or e-mail: email@example.com