One of my favorite verses in the Bible is 1 Peter 3:15.
…always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope…
What that means to me is that, as followers of Jesus Christ, as the very partakers of His Body and Blood, we should conduct ourselves and our lives in such a way that people wonder about our hope.
But the next part of this is very important. How do we answer?
I had the unexpected blessing of being asked about the reason for our hope the other day. A young woman spends time with our family, helping us with our children. I’ll call her Annie. She asked me a really interesting question about whether, in our faith, we have beliefs about circumcising male children. She told me that she had always wanted to ask someone this but had been too embarrassed. Since we spend a lot of time changing diapers together, it was, humorously, finally the right time.
After discussing this issue in as a clear and straightforward a way as I could, she told me that she was hopeful to start attending church with her children. Having accompanied me to a Bible study once at our local Catholic parish to help with the kiddos, I encouraged her to start coming to Mass.
She immediately answered that she had loved it there, for the brief two or three hours that she had been inside. Having bravely attended daily Mass with us, she said she had felt accepted in spite of obviously “being new” and not knowing what to do. She felt people reached out to her and were welcoming to her, and that the priest did not hesitate to give her a blessing when that time came.
Annie then mentioned that she had tried to read the Bible but was usually unsuccessful because it was so large and confusing.
I quickly started compiling materials. This was one of those hope moments, and she loves books. I passed along to her a small edition with just the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs, explaining that the whole Bible can be a lot to tackle and can happen in time. I asked my daughter to fetch her beloved copy of YouCat, feeling sad to have not stocked up more copies. I explained that, although a youth catechism, it is an accessible read with a very appealing format. On top of this, the parish had distributed hundreds of copies of Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly, with an encouraging note tucked inside by the pastor of the parish. She received these three books with tremendous excitement and gratitude.
Phew. Thank you, God.
I loved being able to honestly tell her that she can enter into the Church at whatever level she feels comfortable. There are classes for adults and children who are interested in learning more and becoming Catholic, and that she can take her time to discern that and pray and get to know us first. Most importantly, she can start to learn about Jesus and get to know Him there, in the Blessed Sacrament.
Now, to stock up the book shelves. I need to be ready for more of these moments!
What are the resources you like to have on hand when someone asks you about your hope? What does your parish do to be ready?