As tempting, or obvious, as some would say it may be, the words “dialogue” and “Catholic” need not, nor ever should be, mutually exclusive.
Recently, I heard an anecdote that Protestant ministers do a much better job of answering questions of inquirers than do Catholic priests, mainly due to culture, apparently.
An inquirer of a Protestant minister may initiate a query, and the minister will follow that inquirer’s train of thought, or question, until resolution, Bible in hand flipping to relevant passages of Scripture.
Sadly, the experience with the Catholic priest is more like, “Because I said so!” While anecdotal, not untrue. This, I have experienced, with Catholics, clergy and lay, and it seems the farther from secular society one travels into the Church, the more is this attitude. Frankly, tragically, the ruder, too. Sad. Very sad. And uninspiring. Un-Gospel-like.
“Pope Francis is a man who knows how to speak to the heart, from the heart. His homilies and talks touch many because he genuinely shared the life of the people he served in Buenos Aires.
Evening falls on our assembly. It is the hour at which one willingly returns home to meet at the same table, in the depth of affection, of the good that has been done and received, of the encounters which warm the heart and make it grow, good wine which anticipates the unending feast in the days of man. It is also the weightiest hour for one who finds himself face to face with his own loneliness, in the bitter twilight of shattered dreams and broken plans; how many people trudge through the day in the blind alley of resignation, of abandonment, even resentment: in how many homes the wine of joy has been less plentiful, and therefore, also the zest — the very wisdom — for life […]. Let us make our prayer heard for one another this evening, a prayer for all.
(Pope Francis, October 4, 2014. Prayer vigil before Synod on the family.)
Francis paints a realistic image of the joys and struggles of family life. Pastoral experience and compassion give credibility to his words.”
Seeking a Catholic culture of dialogue and encounter, love and mutual respect? Not lazy authority? Not hubris? Not arrogance? Not rudeness, or dismissiveness? Of service and conversation? Of explanation? How humble. How Gospel-like. How…Lenten. Echoing Ash Wednesday, Repent! And, believe in the Gospel.