Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

St. Patrick and more…

March 17th, 2011, Promulgated by b a

My family and I attended the Rochester St. Patrick’s Day parade this past Saturday.  While walking towards the parade my wife was handed a tract by a Baptist.  She stuck it in her pocket and we read it when we got home.  It had the name of a local Baptist church on it and an email address, so I responded.

To whom it may concern,

I received your tract titled “Who was Saint Patrick?” while attending the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Rochester today.  I admire people with enough passion to pass out tracts at such events.  I thought it was mostly good at portraying the gospel message.  However, being a Catholic, I was somewhat surprised by this statement, “Patrick never appealed to any creed, Pope, or council”.  I suppose this might be true if you’re referring explicitly to the couple writings of his that are considered authentic (I honestly don’t know enough about him to know for sure).  However, the statement is somewhat misleading – as if to imply that he himself didn’t appeal to any creed, Pope, or council.  That statement would seem to be false.  Doing a quick search on, I found this article and thought you might find it interesting: is the web site of one of the most popular Catholic apostolates in the US.  They have lots of info on their website, forums, and a radio show about Catholicism.  One such faith tract is here:

Again, I’d like to emphasize my admiration for your willingness to share the gospel message in public.  I pray for an increase of fervency within our local Catholic communities.

God Bless,
Ben Anderson

I was happy to get a quick response that same day.

Thank you, Mr. Anderson, for your thoughtful note.  I greatly appreciate your kind tone and for sending in some additional information.  I will definitely look at those sites and compare that with other material that we have.

Thank you once again and have a wonderful remainder of the weekend!


XXX    – Bible Baptist Church

I have yet to receive a follow up.

Best case scenario: He’s doing some research and being blown away by the Truth of Catholicism.

Worst case scenario: He’s forgotten all about my email.

On a somewhat related note, I had yet another discussion today with a friend who was raised Catholic but sadly never blossomed into an adult Christian faith.  I think he, like most people, do think about life’s big questions.  He wanted to believe, but he wasn’t given the right answers when he had unbelief.  Perhaps he didn’t look for answers in the right place or perhaps those in position to give him answers didn’t adequately suffice.  I don’t know.  I’m looking forward to our ongoing conversation and introducing him to some of my friends (CS Lewis, Chesterton, Augustine, and Ratzinger).  Please pray for my friend.  And pray that our Faith Formation directors challenge our children.  They want to know the answers to life’s toughest questions – they really do.  We don’t give our kids enough credit – they aren’t idiots.  They want to know the truth.  You can’t pull one over on them – they see right through you.  Just like our clergy too often treat us laity like we’re idiots, I think we all too often treat our children as such.  Clergy – challenge us!  Adults – challenge our children!  If we don’t do it while they’re still listening, the world will snatch them away and they’ll be out of ear shot before you know it.  Stop watering down the gospel.  If you’re a Faith Formation director and you don’t know the answers to life’s tough questions  – make a pledge to find the answers ASAP.  Turn off the TV, turn off the facebook, turn off the telephone, until you can explain why Christianity is the One, True religion and Jesus Christ matters to every single person in the world.  God yearns for souls – we should too.

Speaking of my friends, I’ve been working through Lewis’ Problem of Pain yet again.  I get chills when I read it – it is one of my favorites.  Here’s some quotes.

  • Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness.
  • Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal.
  • Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment.
  • God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
  • God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love.
  • Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself.
  • What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like, “What does it matter so long as they are contented?” We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven – a senile benevolence who, as they say, “liked to see young people enjoying themselves” and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, “a good time was had by all”.
  • In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is itself a question: What are you asking God to do? To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does.
  • I call this Divine humility because it is a poor thing to strike our colours to God when the ship is going down under us; a poor thing to come to Him as a last resort, to offer up “our own” when it is no longer worth keeping. If God were proud He would hardly have us on such terms: but He is not proud, He stoops to conquer, He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him, and come to Him because there is “nothing better” now to be had.
  • If He who in Himself can lack nothing chooses to need us, it is because we need to be needed.

6 Responses to “St. Patrick and more…”

  1. Monk says:

    What a wonderful gift you gave to that Baptist church – the Truth! St. Patrick would be proud!
    Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  2. Faithful says:

    I have over the years engaged many a Protestant online, specifically the wesbite “CARM.” I have corresponded with those who were Catholic, but left the Church many times as well.

    I have found this to be a futile endeavor. In fact I dare say the people are not interested in listening, or a meaningful and intelligent dialog. They are not open. Apologetics only works with people who are searching.

    One of the things I do not like about “” is that they tend to act like people are just ready and willing to listen, if only someone is intelligent enough to explain the Faith. Another thing I do not like about “” is I find their apologetics material rather superficial. This is to say they are not heavy in terms of research, academics or scholarship. They seem designed more for people who are not familier with the Catholic/Protestant polemic. They are doing a noble apostolate, but I do think they could be far better then they are.

  3. Tsering says:

    Wow. Thanks for this story. I actually spent my St. Patrick’s day here in Central New York handing out St. Patrick Catholic prayer cards (St. Patrick’s Breastplate)and a Catholic Tract entitled “God’s Love for You” by Catholic Answers. Peace.

  4. Ben Anderson says:


    I have found this to be a futile endeavor. In fact I dare say the people are not interested in listening, or a meaningful and intelligent dialog. They are not open. Apologetics only works with people who are searching.

    I somewhat agree. That’s why I start small and see what kind of response I get. If they’re responsive, then you can continue to engage. If they aren’t, then you don’t waste too much of your time. You’re right – many people aren’t open. It doesn’t mean that relieves us of our duty, though. You never know – God could open their hearts 5, 10, 20 years down the road and perhaps they’ll remember something you said.

    I wouldn’t say Catholic Answers acts like people are always ready to listen, but you’re right that they seem to focus more on the “data” and less on the approach.

    Thanks for that bit of news and keep up the good work!

  5. Tsering says:

    Thanks for the encouragement. This is the first time I’ve endeavored to pass out tracts, and I’ve been a missionary for 8 years. I can tell you the ups and downs:

    A lot of students and general residents of our town party hard on St. Patrick’s day night, especially around downtown where all the bars are located. I met people as they were walking back home or to the bars to drink, encouraged them to drink responsibly (i.e. please no drunk driving), and asked if they wanted a blessing for St. Patrick’s day in which I handed them a prayer card with either St. Patrick’s Breastplate or another with a short popular Irish Blessing attributed to St. Patrick. I would also give them the tract “God’s Love for You.” Many people responded well, but mostly shallow with no interest in talking, as they were more interested in partying and it was extremely load and hectic. One man, after seeing me hand out some, said, “I want an Irish blessing.” So I handed one to him. He turned around and then cursed, “Jesus f…… Christ! Are you orange or yellow!” Not so familiar with what he was asking me, I said, “I don’t know?” And in a rage he threw the blessing on the ground with the tract and said, “Well if you don’t know, then you don’t understand!” Another man took it with joy saying, “Hey, I accept Him as my Lord and Savior!”

    So some lessons learned:
    1. The prayer cards went off well, anyone will take a blessing. Not anyone will take a challenge to either get back to confession (if they’re Catholic) or believe in the Gospel and join the Catholic Church. So next time I will freely hand out the blessings, and offer the tract explaining, “This is a message about God’s love for you from the Catholic Church, would you like one?” – instead of just putting it in their hand with the blessing.
    2. When an Irishman starts going “orange and yellow”, either walk away and pretend you don’t know, or offer to buy him a drink. (This term goes way back to the Catholic vs. Protestant wars).


  6. Ben Anderson says:

    And in a rage he threw the blessing on the ground with the tract and said, “Well if you don’t know, then you don’t understand!” Another man took it with joy saying, “Hey, I accept Him as my Lord and Savior!”

    Matthew 5:11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

    When an Irishman starts going “orange and yellow”, either walk away and pretend you don’t know, or offer to buy him a drink

    LOL – Can you ever go wrong offering an Irishmen a drink?

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