When I visit churches during the week, I usually visit Bible studies or worship at either Assemblies of God or Baptist Churches. I feel very comfortable in the environment, sharing faith in worship and song, or in prayer and study, and the AOG and Baptists can generally be depended on to have something going on a Wednesday night. Not to slight other denominations, but this just seems to be where I find myself regularly.
Often, during the course of the evening, I’m asked where I attend church, and people are frequently surprised when my response is that I am a Catholic. Maybe it was my ecumenical upbringing, but I love when the question comes up and I get to tell the story of my teen years, our youth group in high school, and the awesome grounding in the Bible that we had. It also gives me a chance to talk about something that I think is nothing short of a Revival going on within the Catholic faith. That revival is exemplified (in my parish) by a group called Cornerstone.
Back around 2002, my brother had attended a Cornerstone retreat at his church in the next town, and spoke to me about what a great experience it was, and what an effect it had on his faith. A few years later, I was at a party and noticed that the host had an invitation posted on the bulletin board in his kitchen to a “Cornerstone Weekend”. First, I felt left out, as no one had sent me an invitation, but as only God can make things happen, this person got sick just before the weekend, and at the last minute I took his place at the retreat (he did attend the following year).
I have helped plan and participate in four more retreats since then, and the group that has from the fifteen or so men who attended that first retreat weekend to over seventy five. Now, what happens during the rest of the year between the retreats? A good number of these 75 men meet on a bi-weekly basis for sharing God’s Word, collaborative prayer, discussion, worship, and fellowship.
So in my travels, this has become a great way to share some important goings-on in the Catholic church to people whose ideas of Catholicism are vastly different, and sometimes even negative. I usually do not get into discussions about doctrine and style, and try to focus on finding the common ground, the fact that Jesus died for our sins, and offers us eternal life if we ask Him into our hearts.
Because if we keep our focus on Him, the minutiae of our differences pale in comparison to the awesome commonalities of our Christian faith.