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Country: United States
State or province: California

Team Leader
David Brandt

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In Depth in El Cerrito

September 16, 2019

Went to El Cerritos Piazza today and had a busy outing. The first 45 minutes I went solo while waiting for my friend Chuck to come. Here are the highlights
Met a gentleman who wanted to know what kind of questions we get, since the sign says “Got Questions?” I told him we get general questions about rules of the faith. Then I enquired about his faith tradition. He shared how he grew up with non-practicing Jewish parents and how he started a spiritual quest in his college days. He also shared about a spiritual coach or guru he had discovered who had been a great help to him. This spiritual guide claimed to have been reincarnated and was once Jesus. I gave him a Divinity of Jesus pamphlet which he accepted willingly.
Before we could finish our conversation, another man came up named, Daniel. He gave us his testimonial about how he was disowned by his family for leaving his Catholic faith. He had attended a large Fellowship meeting of some sort where he encountered Christ. His family scorned him for this because it was not Catholic. He then went on to share the struggles he has had since his wife had passed away leaving him with his 7 year old daughter (now 11). He had moved up north to live with more supportive family members. He had also been clean and sober for 1 year and had a job. He has not found a church since moving and I recommended St. Jerome’s. At some point, the first gentleman realized that the discussion was going to take too long to continue where we had been interrupted and road off on his bike.
Now that I was one on one, I told him that his experience with the fellowship was very genuine and that the church would recognize it as so, and that his family did not have the tools to recognize this and redirect him lovingly back to the Church. I then used an analogy to demonstrate the difference between Catholic and non-Catholic Christianity. “Imagine that you are a builder and that you are being asked by two different people to build a deck in their back yard. Both people are going to provide the tools, but one is going to provide you a hammer, a hand saw, a level and some nails, and that’s it. The other is going to provide you with a nail gun a table saw nails and a bunch of other equipment. Now in both cases, you are going to get the job done, one is going to be easier than the other. The Catholic Church just gives you more tools.” He really liked this explanation having been a builder himself.
I asked him if there was anything in his life we could pray for. He told me that he and his daughter would like to have their own home. Before you read another word, please just say a “Hail Mary” for this man.
OK thank you. Anyway, I gave him a Rosary which he with an instruction piece and he went gratefully on to the rest of his day.

Next I met a woman named Charlotte. Her first comment was, “Is this what the church has been forced to resort to?”  My response, “No, it is what it has been doing from day one.” She had left the church and said she was thinking about coming back and that she needs to go to confession. I gave her Reasons to Return to the Catholic Church” and “Confession” pamphlets. I asked her if she had anything we could pray for for and she asked for prayers for her son Patrick, who is experiencing a lot of struggles in his life at the moment; also for her other children Peggy, Colman and Reman, who are experiencing some struggles and Nick, for whom life is going well, that this may continue. So please, before reading any further, say a prayer for each of her kids individually. . . . . Thanks.

She then shared how she could not reconcile a merciful God with the existence of hell. How could there even be a hell if God loves us all; how could He send someone there? She also was uncomfortable with the idea that Church council or councils that concluded that those who died in a state of mortal sin, go to hell, and whether such councils could be infallible, because after all these men were all human. I asked if this question negated the role of the Holy Spirit. She openly questioned if those in the council were properly disposed to the movement of the Spirit. Then she asked me point blank, “Do you believe all the counsels were infallible?”. I plainly answered, “Yes.” She winced a this answer. My challenge to her was to consider if it was just for God to allow someone into Heaven who intentionally committed horrific evil which caused much unnecessary pain, death and suffering. We kind of left things at that and she went on her way.

SPSE Team Photo

Chuck in action. “Care for a free rosary?”

Just about this time, Chuck showed up. We sezzzt our selves in better position and worked another hour. Chuck met woman who accepted a Rosary even though she was not Catholic. He gave he a Rosary instruction pamphlet and she asked if she was allowed to have any other pamphlets. Of course he let her shop the table for whatever she wanted and she took a handful of pamphlets including “Why be Catholic,”

I met a woman who was willing to accept a Rosary in honor of her grandmother. At this point I just had to give her a Catholic Radio card and a Pope Francis Million dollar bill. She was quite tickled by million bucks.

The thing which we focused on that made the day special was offering to pray for people’s intentions. We wrapped up our session praying for each intention we had written in our intention notebook. I would ask all the readers to keep these prayer intentions on your prayer list if you can.