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Apology Necessitated

Just a little while ago, a fellow faithful from the chapel and I drove to Alabama on his flatbed to pickup a new (to us) 90-year-old pump organ. It had been reclaimed on a whim by a Protestant pastor but he soon realized that it was out of place among the electric guitars, drum set and baby grand in his home church. Also, it restricted his pulpit access. So we snagged it at a song, though we did have to "pay" for it in other ways.

After a brief adventure wherein the organ, my friend and I were forklifted on a tractor without any brakes, we wandered the seller's yard and commiserated among his knick-knacks and paddy-whacks. Being a skilled orator, the conversation ranged initially from building projects involving his makeshift sawmill to his ministry towards the meth addicts that surround his home. Then he turned to the two of us like we were the third and fourth Catholics he had ever met and asked a slew of questions about the One True Faith. Do we do sprinkling? Did Queen Elizabeth I start our religion? Do we pray to Mary? Do we confess our sins to a priest? Do we believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do we believe that He is a priest in the line of Melchisedech? Do we ever turn over our plates? There's many more I'm forgetting because I logged over 2 hours of dialogue.

The Birth of the Virgin - Erasmus Quellinus II

He harkened back to the subject of the Blessed Virgin several times throughout. He apparently was satisfied with our distinction between veneration and worship, putting to rest the prejudice he perceived when other pastors would "educate" him on the Catholic practice of idolizing Our Lady as a goddess. To our surprise, he admitted that praying to Mary sounded like a good and pious practice he'd be willing to attempt but he just didn't know how to go about it. Then through an inspiration I can only attribute to the Holy Ghost (Lk. 12:12), I suggested that he open his Bible to the Gospel of Luke and meditate on the salutations of St. Gabriel and St. Elizabeth to Our Lady. If his holy pair would address this seemingly ordinary girl in such an extraordinary way, and if these episodes are so important to be recorded in the annals of Holy Writ, maybe one could find words from the heart to offer this Woman that would follow this template. And as an affirmation that the waters of this exchange were troubled (Jn. 5:4), he asked, "So when Jesus was on the Cross and said to His disciple, 'Behold, your Mother,' it's always been explained to me that just meant he took her to his house and cared for her; but would you say Jesus meant for the disciple to consider her as his Mother?" I tempered my elation and responded, "Yes, and we too are the disciple and she too is our Mother."

Dominum autem Christum sanctificate in cordibus vestris parati semper ad satisfactionem omni poscenti vos rationem de ea quae in vobis est spe.
But sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts, being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you.
1 Pet. 3:15

Following my reversion in college, one of my favorite religious subjects was apologetics. I loved the discovery of new facets of the faith and how reasonably all the puzzle pieces fit together. But after the reading of each tract I was regrettably hoping for an opportunity to unleash this ammunition of logic on an unsuspecting heretic in order to bring him into the fold. Thankfully, those opportunities were few and far between, and when they did happen it would only last about 15 minutes as one or both parties got tired of the debate. But for at least two reasons this experience with our pastor friend was significantly more edifying. Firstly, our interlocuter had the right kind of open mind, of which G.K. Chesterton said in his autobiography, "The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid." Secondly, my fellow Catholic and I were to the best of our human ability speaking the truth in charity (1 Cor. 13), seeking merely to offer honest answers to honest questions.

So we didn't mind that the organ didn't finally get situated in the chapel until 9pm that evening. The yoke of Christ is sweet and makes burdens, both spiritual and physical, light (Mt. 11:30).

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Super excited you worked in "paddy-whacks."

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