One thing you must do with every Catholic is to discern what kind of Catholic they are before you begin your witnessing. As discussed in the earlier post, Catholicism is not a lock in step unified faith, even though some will invariably try to portray it this way on Facebook.
Here are some categories of Catholics you will run across.
This will denote a family generational type of Catholic. They were infant baptized into a Catholic family. So a slogan you might hear from this particular Catholic is “born a Catholic, and will die a Catholic”. Catholicism is all this person would know, and they were exposed to it at a very young impressionable age. Combine this with family guilt, their indoctrination will be quite strong.
Cradle Catholics will be a little more confident than converts to Catholicism. They are not so much interested in debating the technicalities, they simply are secure in their faith in the RCC. They are unashamed when it comes to any Catholic doctrine, including when it comes to Mary. They will fellowship with other Catholics in their parish and see this as their community.
The key technique one can use with cradle Catholics is to simply read Scripture with them. I was a cradle Catholic myself, it was not until God opened my eyes to the truth contained in Scripture by one reading Scripture with me in public that I could spot how terribly bad I had been deceived. My pride in Catholicism would have it no other way. I would not listen to the various opinions before this point of which I just discarded, it was Scripture which got through to me.
It has been my experience in the parishes and diocese I belonged to that the majority of converts to Catholicism come by marriage, or by a friend, girlfriend, boyfriend who are Catholics. Most likely a person with weak or no faith to begin with and the spouse being a cradle Catholic demanding the conversion.
The other converts come to Catholicism also with weak or no faith. Scripture was not the key to these conversions since Catholicism does not pass its test. So these converts use what I call a historical fallacy. Since the religion in their mind is very old, it makes sense that it would be to them the most applicable. These conversions are not by the Holy Spirit’s leading, but by the sinner’s doubt in God’s existence and His promises. They may have been taught the Biblical Gospel, but they need extra biblical support and proof much like agnostics do. So they end up in the RCC.
The behavior of converts pretty much equates to an inherent defense of their decision. They will bypass Canon Laws and try to prove their faith from Scripture things the RCC has not taught in many cases. They also have a secret self righteousness when it comes to cradle Catholics who they don’t see as “good Catholics” based on knowledge of Scripture, Councils, RCC teachings. They will use many of the same terms such as “grace” or “faith” when debating Catholicism and their conversion, but will never be able to adequately defend those terms from Scripture’s definitions.
Converts to Catholicism will be a little harder to witness to. They will invent new ideologies when it comes to Catholicism, discard or ignore some Catholic teachings, and will equivocate biblical terms. The way to witness to them however is to point out the fallacies and invalid nature of their arguments. Center on Scripture and point out the problem of Scripture not being their authority with faith.
These are Catholics who have stopped attending a RCC but when asked will say “I am a Catholic”. For various reasons, they chose to stop going to Mass. They will have a guilt cloud hanging over their heads, as other Catholics may remind them of committing what they teach as a “mortal sin” by their lack of Mass attendance.
Lapsed Catholics actually can see the various hypocrisies of Catholicism and do not wish to practice it. But by Catholic guilt, mainly family guilt, they will attend a Mass here and there, Christmas and Easter for some or a funeral or wedding where they know all the motions still of how to behave as a Catholic.
Witnessing to these folks should be taken with caution. The advice I give here is to NOT put them in a position where they are forced to defend the RCC. They already understand the hypocrisy, now give them the Good News. Don’t lay more guilt on them in other words, welcome them with the Good News of Jesus Christ, if God is drawing them and saves them, WELCOME them into the Kingdom!
Listening is also a key here. They will tell you honestly what their problems with Catholicism are. Provide Scripture to them to show them that their problem is actually a valid concern, not by your personal opinion, but by Scripture. Like cradle Catholics, invite Scripture reading with them. Also give them the actual definition of the church. You see, Catholics are taught that the church is a brick building and a steeple, with a name on the front either Catholic or Protestant. Church is where they go for an hour a week. Explain to them what the church is, every born-again Christian saved to Jesus Christ’s glory is the church.
Whether cradle, convert, or lapsed, each Catholic will have a different challenge. Prepare yourself for these challenges. Make sure you categorize this by discernment. Don’t witness the same way to a cradle Catholic as you would a convert for example and it will help. Best way to discern this is by asking questions, are they a convert, are they born a Catholic and still devout, or did they stop attending. Find out this, and then tailor your witness accordingly.