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.
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!