Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism
Father Dimitri Sala, the author of this book, wishes to help the reader to understand the crossing of the Evangelical-Catholic divide to find our unity. There are 18 acknowledgements applauding the work that Sala has done and continues to do. The Stained Glass Curtain is written for both Evangelicals and Catholics. For Evangelicals because among these brethren it is not unheard of to claim that the Catholic Church preaches and different, and therefore false gospel. Many Evangelicals do withhold such an assertion but understandably they may still find themselves unsure of how the gospel and the Catholic Church fit together. The readers would be grateful to know that I was confronted with these very issues soon after my conversion and that this put me on a diligent personal search for answers. The majority were not in compliance with the official teachings of my Church. The Second Vatican Council had even expressed its concern over those very tendencies among the Catholic Church’s more visible leaders, the priest. According to the Second Vatican documents, “the task of the priest is not to teach their own wisdom, bit God’s word, and to summon all men urgently to conversion and holiness”. (decree on the Ministry and Life of priests, p.4)
One of the goals of the book is to ‘set the record straight’ by providing Evangelical readers with accurate information, taken directly from Catholic primary sources. The book is also addressed to Catholics. There are many of us who fit the description at the beginning of this chapter: we have already heard, understood, and personally responded to God’s plan of salvation, and by this conversion regard ourselves “born again” no less than Evangelicals. But for us there is a predicament: we face suspicion by some of our members that we are not really Catholic (and sometimes even become the object of our persecution), while on the other hand, some of our brother Evangelicals doubt our salvation simply because we chose to remain in our Church. The book is also written out of pain. If the reader has been around the Kingdom long enough, the reader knows that pain is what God seems to use to get our attention about the deeper things he wants done.
Trying to embrace all that needs to be done, the Gospel calls out to humans of every generation and declares that God exists; and out of love alone, He created us with a purpose, plan and destiny—namely to live a fill, abundant, and eternal life, a life as every human being deep down really wants to live. And it is precisely through a relationship with Him that we uncover and live this plan. God’s agenda is to provide us with a life that anyone in his or her right mind would want to live forever. The struggle with how sin impacts our life is evident from the Gospel stories. The gospel not only names sin a reality, it shows us the exact nature and scope of its power in the matrix. Why is this so important to know? Because there are those who would not deny sin’s reality, but who mistakenly believe they can take care of the problem through the proper equation of human effort and God’s grace. However, the Gospel and Catholic teaching proclaim that the force field of sin is a lot stronger than we imagine. Every sin, no matter how mortal or venial, is but a symptom of a deeper dilemma: every sinful action originates with a human heart that in some way desires rebellion and independence from God.
The chapters presented give the plan of salvation spelled out specifically. Some of the issues are ones we already know. If you are Catholic, maybe you had no idea what our Church really teaches on the subject and whether Catholic, Protestant or non-denominational or someone who doesn’t consider himself a Christian, maybe the reader will come to an all-important understanding of your own sin problem and its consequences. If you have never before personally received God’s gift of salvation and are ready to do so now, this book will assist you in getting in touch with God’s plan. It is good news, it’s the joy of our lives to bear this message containing an eternal impact of those who first hear and receive it. But the Gospel continues to be good news in yet another way for us born again Christians who have accepted it if we dare to believe that, in spite of our differences and even disagreements, the one and the same salvation message is the foundation on which we all stand and upon which we all wish to build.