~from Zenit's interview with Fr. John McCloskey, co-author with Russell Shaw, Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion, and Crisis of Faith (via CERC)
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Q: What are the key things that attract people to the Catholic Church? Is it the doctrine? or the practice? or the works of charity?
Father McCloskey: All potential converts, like everybody else, are seeking happiness both in this life and the next. Otherwise, why bother?
In the Church they find an institution that claims to be Christ's mystical body, founded by him during his time on earth, and unashamedly teaching the truth based on divine Revelation as it comes to us through Scripture and Tradition.
What a joy it has been through the years to see people discover through study and prayer Christianity, which can and must be lived in order to learn that being good does make us happy.
At the same time, converts remember very well the type of lives they were living prior to discovering the Lord and his Church; they are deeply grateful for the grace of this found treasure and have an eagerness to share it with others. The truth did make them free.
I think, above all, people are attracted to the Church by their growing knowledge and love of the person of Jesus Christ. As they grow more curious in reading the New Testament and Church history, they realize that Christ did not leave his children orphans, but rather instituted a Church — his family, his body — where he resides until the second coming.
The Church provides the means: its Scripture, sacraments, its authoritative teaching, the example of the saints, etc., so that a new Catholic can grow in Christ and reach his goal of holiness in heaven.
Of course, they must see others who show by their behavior, their happiness, their practice of Christian piety and virtues, and by their practice of true Christian charity as exemplified in the spiritual and corporal works of mercies, that indeed the Church provides the means to live the Christian life fully it can be done.
They see this not only in canonized saints of the ancient past and more recent past, but even more importantly in their friends — the people who precisely have been God's instrument in introducing them to Christ's Church.