Friday, July 09, 2010
On Steve Ray's visit to Perth...
It's not often that a speaker and apologist of Steve Ray's calibre comes to Australia, let alone to arguably the most isolated capital city in the world: Perth. Last year Perth missed out on hearing Tim Staples speak, and this year it was unfortunate that Fr. Mitch Pacwa and Deacon Alex Jones could not come to our humble abode as part of The Fullness of Truth tour presented by The Catholic Forum and Parousia Media. So as you could probably understand, we were overjoyed to hear that Steve Ray was willing to cross Australia's less than flattering waistline from the east and spend a couple of days here in the west.
Last night at Our Lady of the Mission Church in Whitfords, Steve spoke about his journey from a firebrand Baptist converter of Catholics to an on fire convert to the Catholic faith. Steve Ray is a lover of truth, as all Christians should be. But as Steve indicated in his talk it's quite evident that non-Catholic Christians are given a "truth" (i.e. a fabrication of it) especially where the Catholic Church is concerned. This sentiment is summed up by one of my heroes of the Catholic faith, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen:
"There are not 100 people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be."
Things are relatively different when it comes to relations between the Catholic Church and Protestant denominations - there is an explicit conflict of sorts over there - and things, as Steve Ray observes, here in Australia appear to be a bit more relaxed and laid back. Perhaps this is simply due to our Aussie lifestyle and Aussie humility (is it "unAustralian" to tell someone they're wrong?), but this is a trend that is changing. In the classrooms I teach in I have students that have a perception of the Catholic Church and this is being fed to them by friends and family members of a particular non-Catholic Christian background, and from what Pentecostal/Evangelical type churches are preaching to them from their pulpits on weekends.
Steve Ray (and converts to the faith like him) is living proof that the truth is irresistible. As a cradle Catholic this is something I very much have taken for granted because, well, I guess I've always lived in that truth but never appreciated until I've seen friends leave the faith for something else (and sometimes leave for simply nothing) and heard stories like Steve Ray's. The truth is something to never take for granted and we should never feel ashamed, embarrassed, or apprehensive about sharing it. I mean, we're about as quick to tell our mates where to get free beer but get all shy when it comes to telling them how to share in the gift of eternal life!
There was then Steve's talks today at Trinity College where he spoke about some major differences between Catholics and Protestants, and the Eucharist. This was all familiar territory for me because I've heard Steve speak on these topics before (through Catholic Answers Live) but in a world filled with perception and not enough reality (as alluded to earlier), Ecumenism, evangelisation, apologetics, and dialogue with our non-Catholic Christian brethren is about clearing up misconceptions, tearing the fabric from fabrications, and turning perceptions into reality. The world believed the earth was flat until someone sailed over "the edge". If you want truth, you have to go out there and look for it. Ignorance is not bliss; truth is bliss! It hurts at first, as they say, but it's short term pain in return for eternal fulfilment.
So what did I gain from Steve Ray's visit to Perth? For starters, I am pleased that there are other Catholics in Perth that care about sharing the truth with those wearing rose tinted glasses and being fed misinformation about the church that Jesus Christ himself founded. Secondly, these talks by Steve Ray renewed the energy (well, think of it as adding a nitrous oxide tank to a super charged V8) I and my SCTA colleague, Renato Bonasera, have for the work we're doing both in and outside of the classroom. There's no reason why Perth (let alone Australia) can produce a Steve Ray of its own and set hearts on fire for Christ and His Church.Why settle for being a luke warm Catholic? Why settle for just fulfilling your Sunday and sacramental obligations? Why settle for just coasting through life thinking there are more important things to be doing than spending time with Our Lord and renewing our hearts and minds?
Be ready, people of Perth, hearts will be set on fire; what we've experienced here in Perth over the last couple of days with Steve and Janet Ray is merely the flint before bonfire.
"But Peter said to them: Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." - Acts 2:38
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To learn more about Steve Ray you can visit his [excellent] website: http://www.catholic-convert.com/
... Or you can catch him on Catholic Answers Live once a month during the "Open Forum for Non-Catholics". Simply go here to see when Steve will be on and listen to the show live via streaming broadcast or download the show on mp3 or Podcast (via iTunes).