Convergence Rather Than Conversion?

CP&S Comment: This completely un-Catholic idea of not proselytising we are hearing as apparently being the personal opinion of Pope Francis, is profoundly disturbing. Here is a timely reminder from Torch of the Faith of a story about the distinguished philosopher and author, Dietrich Von Hildebrand, related by his widow, Alice, on how deeply he believed in Our Lord’s last commandment – to bring all men home to the One True Faith of the Catholic Church.

Hitler's Enemy Number One: The Catholic Theologian and Philosopher, Dietrich Von Hildebrand, who fearlessly struck at the spiritual and intellectual roots of both National Socialism and the Modernist crisis in the Catholic Church.

Hitler’s Enemy Number One: The Catholic Theologian and Philosopher, Dietrich Von Hildebrand, who fearlessly struck at the spiritual and intellectual roots of both National Socialism and the Modernist crisis in the Catholic Church.

All this talk of not ”proselytizing” anyone has put us in mind of a story told by Alice von Hildebrand, about her remarkable husband Dietrich, in the summer 2001 edition of the American Latin Mass Society magazine.

During an interview for the magazine, Alice von Hildebrand was asked the following question: ”I take it by your remarks about ecumenism that you do not agree with the current policy of ”convergence” rather than ”conversion”?

Alice von Hildebrand provided a very heartening answer to this question.

She replied: ”Let me relate an incident that caused my husband grief. It was 1946, just after the war. My husband was teaching at Fordham, and there appeared in one of his classes a Jewish student who had been a naval officer during the war. He would eventually tell my husband about a particularly stunning sunset in the Pacific and how it had led him to the quest for the truth about God.

He first went to Columbia to study philosophy, and he knew that this was not what he was looking for. A friend suggested he try philosophy at Fordham and mentioned the name Dietrich Von Hildebrand.

After just one class, my husband and this student went for a walk. He told my husband during this time that he was surprised at the fact that several professors, after discovering he was Jewish, assured him that they would not try to convert him to Catholicism.

My husband, stunned, stopped, turned to him and said, ”They said what!”

He repeated the story and my husband told him, ”I would walk to the ends of the earth to make you a Catholic.”

To make a long story short, the young man became a Catholic, was ordained a Carthusian priest, and went on to enter the only Charterhouse in the United States (in Vermont).”

Torch of The Faith reflects: If we truly love those who are different from us, then we should desire and do all that is possible to help them find the full truth about Our Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation which He alone can offer through His Holy Catholic Church. In light of the truth of extra Ecclesiam nulla salus, this is the very essence of any charity and mercy worthy of the name.

For, as Dietrich Von Hildebrand once reflected: ”The great mystery of our metaphysical situation is that we cannot even be wholly ourselves until we are reborn in Christ.”

To which, we can only add for any potential converts out there: Try it and see!

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7 Responses to Convergence Rather Than Conversion?

  1. Brother Burrito says:

    Well, there are many types of proselytism.

    I think the type Pope Francis is against is the commonest type: the bible bashing of complete strangers who have no expressed interest in spiritual matters.

    Our Lord warned against casting pearls before swine, lest they turn and trample you (and the pearls) under foot.


    “Don’t try to teach pigs to sing:
    It wastes your time,
    and irritates the pigs!” (Anthony de Mello SJ)


  2. Brother Burrito says:

    Proselytising should be like good gardening: encourage wildlife to enjoy the garden’s fruits, use poly- rather than mono-culture. Avoid noxious indiscriminate pesticides. Discourage predators*.

    *My wife has attained sniper level proficiency with her Super-Soaker. As a result, all the local moggies wear a nervous countenance whenever they are near our property 😉


  3. johnhenrycn says:

    I doubt that our good Brother Burrito knows of even one bible-bashing Catholic priest. He is a post-VII Catholic, after all. Oh, sorry, he’s obviously heard of Fulton Sheen who I concede was a post-VII bible basher. And there have been some other bible bashing Catholic priest bloggers, who even appear here. No, Brother Burritto and his excellent wife, and perhaps good Pope Francis too, are confusing proselytization with Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and people who wear billboards announcing the End Of The World Next Month. But the fact is, good Pope Francis is even against (so it’s said) against preaching the Gospel to non-Catholics. For him – so it seems – our religion, Catholicism, is the love that dare not speak its name. Not in so many words anyway.


  4. johnhenrycn says:

    Apropos Mrs Buritto’s “Super-Soaker” – I know Brother says that in jest – but I always smile in a non-judgmental way at the Jehovah’s Witnesses when they come to the servants’ entrance. I point across the street to the fairly comely Catholic Church I attend and ask If they’d like to attend there with me some day, although I’m always scrupulous not to bible-bash them with my Douay-Rheims.


  5. Brother Burrito says:

    Dear JH,

    Both the devil and God Almighty are in the details, and so is Catholic proselytism.

    Gifting the ultimate truths to one’s fellow every-man is like fitting out someone with a perfect pair of shoes, or the finest couture.

    It must be made to measure. God doesn’t do “one size fits all”, and neither should we.


  6. johnhenrycn says:

    “Both the devil and God Almighty are in the details”

    “Gifting the ultimate truths… is like fitting out someone with a perfect pair of shoes…It must be made to measure…”

    God doesn’t do “one size fits all”

    Brother Burroto, it’s not really a sign of polemic talent – combining cliché with boredom. You say that a perfect pair of shoes must be made to measure. Can any bible-bashing Catholic disagree with that? Then you say: God doesn’t do “one size fits all”. Which Catholics here have said they want to wear metaphorical flip flops like those which good Pope Francis seems to favour?

    Should I be concerned with your increasing reliance on clichés? As you I think you know, clichés have a lot in common with anaesthetics. Both tend to put people to sleep. Both are tiresome.


  7. Roger says:

    After Our Lord’s Resurrection these are His instructions to His Apostles and St Peter. We are bound in Charity (love of God) to seek Our Neighbours Salvation (thats the Love of Neighbour). It would be Hatred to do otherwise. In this world this means the Cross.

    Matthew 28
    16 And the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
    17 And seeing him they adored: but some doubted.
    18 And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.
    19 Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
    20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

    Freemasonry’s plan is Convergence
    “..Convergence is at the heart of what we do, or what we ought to do. ..”
    “..there is no doubt of the fact that Freemasonry, in all parts of the world, is very different today to what it was thirty or more years ago. We have, I believe, a far greater awareness of our shared spiritual and cultural values; we have the means to develop ourselves for the good of humanity, to go out and to show the world where real goodness and harmony may be deployed to increase the wellbeing of humanity. But we will not do it by appearing to stand still; we will do it by working together; we will do it by shedding some of the useless shibboleths; we will do it by the convergence which Freemasonry requires of us, all of us, together, united in the spirit, remembering Anderson’s immortal words:

    “But though in ancient times Masons were charged in every country to be of the Religion of that country or nation, whatever it was, yet it is now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular opinions to themselves; that is, to be good men and true, or men of honour and honesty, by whatever denominations or persuasions they may be distinguished; whereby Masonry becomes the centre of union, and the means of conciliating true friendship among persons that must [otherwise] have remained at a perpetual distance.”

    Our Lord is the Prince Of Peace
    Isaias 9
    6 For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.

    John 14
    6 Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.

    Man has Free Will and choice of His last end . Judgment means Separation between those Saved( Heaven) and the condemned (Hell).
    Luke 12
    49 I am come to cast fire on the earth; and what will I, but that it be kindled?
    50 And I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized: and how am I straitened until it be accomplished?
    51 Think ye, that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, no; but separation.

    Our Lord told Us what to expect of a member of His Church
    Matthew 24
    9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall put you to death: and you shall be hated by all nations for my name’ s sake


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