Q. Since I started college this fall, I’ve been making a lot of friends who aren’t Catholic. Some of them are Christian, but some of them don’t even go to church. When we talk, I’m not really sure how to tell them what’s the big deal about being Catholic. What should I say?
A. I’d say you have a great opportunity to make a difference in their lives! Our Catholic faith is an incredible gift. Therefore, to understand it, live it, and spread it is an incredible privilege. When your new friends ask about your faith, you have a wonderful opportunity to give them something from which they will greatly benefit.
Sharing the Catholic faith with your friends is something that perhaps only you can do. Maybe at a later time in their lives, they will encounter another good Catholic who will share his/her faith with them, but then again, maybe not. I’d encourage you to look at this moment as possibly their “once in a lifetime” opportunity to learn about the incredible gift of the Catholic faith.
As Catholics, we believe that we are privileged to have the fullness of the faith. What does this mean? It especially means two things. First, it means that we are blessed to have the fullest understanding of what Jesus wants us to understand and believe. As Catholics, we trace our faith roots all the way back to Jesus Himself. The pope is the successor to St. Peter and thus shares in the divine mandate to hold the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven! That means he continues to guide us into all truth and teaches us with the authority of Jesus Himself. This understanding is one that everyone needs to understand.
Furthermore, we, as Catholics, are blessed beyond what we can ever imagine by being able to share in the sacramental life of the Church. Those who understand the Sacraments know they are the greatest way of connecting to God and receiving His grace.
These facts about the Catholic faith might be hard to explain, but let me offer a suggestion on how to do just that.
First, I suggest that you keep striving to understand and live your own Catholic faith to the fullest. Study the faith, celebrate the Sacraments with great devotion, and try to discover the great gift that this faith gives you.
Second, when you are living fully as a Catholic, the best way to share that faith is to speak to your friends on a personal level. In other words, if you regularly live the Catholic faith, when the opportunity presents itself, you can easily tell your friends how much this faith means to you. You can share how God comes to meet you as you attend Mass and Reconciliation. You can explain your deep confidence in Jesus’ teaching as it comes to you from the pope and bishops. And you can simply share your deep love for God as you meet Him daily in the Catholic Church.
Sharing this with your friends might have the effect of igniting within them a desire to gain what you have. When they see your joy, your faith, and your devotion, they might simply want to jump on board and discover what the Catholic Church is all about.
The bottom line is that if you truly love being a Catholic and live your faith to the fullest, you will automatically draw others to what you have discovered. God will guide you in this if you are open to let Him use you. And remember, you might be the only opportunity that these new friends have to discover God within our glorious Catholic Church!