Wednesday, February 15, 2012

“Prove It!” Jesuit

St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Chefornak
The people of Chefornak were all Catholic, served by Jesuit missionaries. Two weeks after our arrival, the village priest knocked on our back door, introduced himself, and hesitatingly told us that the former teachers let him come to the teacher’s quarters to take a shower once in awhile. Ours was the only house in the village with running water. I laughed, and said, “Sure – and stay for dinner too,” (after you smell better). And that was the humble beginning of my Road to Damascus and the fulfillment of that message in the chapel. That night, after dinner, I began asking the Jesuit priest questions about Catholic beliefs. My first question was, “Why do you Catholic priests think you can forgive sins? Only God can do that.” I added that I thought it was possible they got that strange custom from some of those “extra” books the Catholics have in their Bible. He replied, “You mean the ones that Martin Luther tossed out?” Not wishing to be deterred from my original question, I politely passed over that one, and back to the “prove it” about the forgiving of sins. So, he asked me to get out my Bible (King James Version), and we looked up passages referring to Jesus breathing on the Apostles, giving them the power to forgive or retain sins (John 20:21-23). After discussing this, I told him that I could see his point, but there must be some other explanation and I would have to think about it. Then the strangest thing happened: he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Now, don’t ask me anything more about the Catholic faith!” I objected and asked why he would say such a thing. He replied, “because I can prove everything and then you’d have to be Catholic.” I laughed and told him he had nothing to worry about – I’d never be a Catholic! It was impossible! Whenever I think back to that night, I have to smile, for I know I was being brashly bold in my own beliefs, thinking I could convince and convert a Jesuit! No one ever warned me about Jesuits. Nor did I suspect that this was the time the Holy Spirit would break through my theological barricades and bring me to understanding and truth.
Link (here) to read the rest of the story at The Coming Home Network


Hugh said...

I too began my conversion to Catholicism when working as a teacher in a rural Yup'ik eskimo village in Alaska. A Jesuit priest was instrumental in this. The village I lived in for many years was about 20 miles away from Chefornak. I still teach in rural Alaska, my wife is Yup'ik and the Jesuits are still here, thanks be to God.

Joseph Fromm said...

Awesome story! Go Jesuits!