A few days ago, the media was buzzing with the headline: “Prominent atheist blogger converts to Catholicism”
If you haven’t heard about it yet, here’s an article that contains a brief video interview.
This of course, has caught the attention of atheists, Catholics, and others. While Lea Libresco is working on a more detailed explanation about why she’s converting, she has already written a brief overview of how it happened, which you can read here.
In it, she describes a debate she was involved in, during which she found herself at a loss as to explaining where she thought objective morality comes from:
““I don’t know. I’ve got nothing. I guess Morality just loves me or something.”
“…” “Ok, ok, yes, I heard what I just said. Give me a second and let me decide if I believe it…It turns out I did.”
I think this captures the heart of why anyone converts to Catholicism, either from outside the Catholic Church, or from floating along within it. Another blog post I read commenting on Lea Libresco’s conversion rightly observed: “In truth, however, most atheists who read her posts will not be convinced. Because conversion requires the mystery of God giving His grace and the decision deep in the heart of the person to accept or reject that gift and make the assent of faith.”
Atheists who read her explanation will be looking for some argument, some line of reasoning which is the cause of Lea’s newfound faith. But they won’t find it, because her newfound faith did not ultimately result from an argument – though arguments may have helped – but from a free response to an invitation from a person, from God.
No matter how much we would like to answer St. Paul’s charge in his letter to Timothy: “…preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. ” [2 Timothy 4:2]
With a resounding “YES! Let’s do this!”, and go out into the streets, armed with our apologetic arguments to convert the world, the mysterious thing about faith is that it cannot be coaxed, fabricated, or forced, but only received. Faith is a grace, a free gift from God, and it is only God who can give it, to whom He wills, whenever He wills.
While this realization may deflate our dreams of becoming the next great apostle to the nations, or of at least converting all our family & friends by our arguments and zeal, this realization is also a very freeing one.
Many people today buy into the idea that there is no meaning to life except what we give it. At first, that might sound nice, “yeah, life is what you make of it”, because we do experience determining who we become by our free choices. But the logical conclusion of believing that there is no other meaning to my existence except what I give it, leads to a worldview where life is utterly meaningless, values are totally arbitrary, and love is simply impossible, because in the end it’s all something I’ve made up. There is no “other”, there is only “me”.
But God is not an idea we have made up, He is not a projection of our needs and desires, nor is He a product of evolutionary psychology. Simply put, God doesn’t come from us. Our Faith is does not come from us, it comes from God. God is the ultimate “other”, who reveals Himself to “me”, through nature: “…Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” [Romans 1:20], and through revelation: “…in many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son” [Hebrews 1:2]
When God moves me with His grace, and I can choose to trust Him and believe what He has revealed, or, I can turn away. After all, we do not believe because we understand all that God has revealed, or because we have seen the evidence for all that God has revealed, but rather, we believe what God has revealed, because we believe Him who has revealed it to us. We believe the message, because we believe the messenger.
So what now? We should thank God for giving the grace of faith to Lea Libresco, and to pray for her perseverance in the Faith. But does that mean we should sit back and do nothing, since God is the one who gives the grace of faith and not me? Of course not. God in His great mercy, has instituted the Church, because He has willed that through it we are to play a part in His plan of salvation for the world. Just because He is the only one who can give the grace of faith, that does not exclude the reality that our efforts in following and witnessing to Jesus Christ in our thoughts, words, and deeds, are often the very instrument through which God gives the grace of faith to others.
And as Jesus Himself commanded us: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” [Matthew 5:16]
And that brings me to an idea that a friend of mine had a few months ago: “I had an idea. I was listening to a cd lecture of Matthew Kelly, who was talking about how drastic measures must be taken to spread the Gospel.
Then I listened one by Fr. Robert Baron, who was talking about what a great tool YouTube is to reach the masses (even the non-Catholic masses).
So then, either I had a brain child, or if it is a good idea, God gave me a brain child. There are many apologetic videos on YouTube, but I have not found any that have heart felt testimonies about the deep down, when-push-comes-to-shove reason why people are Catholic.
So that is what I propose we do. I want you to, if you have a camera that can take videos,
Prepare a 2 minute or less, heartfelt testimony about why you have chosen (because we have all either chosen to be, or to continue to be) to be Catholic. I do not want apologetics. I want the reason!
Finish your video with “and that is why I am Catholic”
Video tape it
Edit it if you want (most new pcs and I think all macs have a movie maker program on it). But you don’t really have to.
Then post it to YouTube. I am going to post mine under WHY I AM CATHOLIC. I think you should too.
If you know anyone else who is interested, pass this along. One of us might change a life. And honestly, it took me about 15 minutes. ”
It took me a while to settle on what my video would be about, and it wasn’t until I found myself making an impromptu holy hour that I decided. Below is the video I made with the help of my friend. Since then, my friend has created a YouTube channel called “Why I Am Catholic”, under the username “lethaldose171”. I encourage you to take this idea to prayer, and if you’d like to make a video of your own, contact my friend at email@example.com if you have any further questions about videotaping or editing, or organizing it so we host the videos in the same channel.
(I apologize for the quality, it seems that the combination of the lighting, wallpaper, and my skin tone, has made it almost monochrome, and if you know me, I also have a habit of not projecting my voice or enunciating well, but I think this is better than nothing).