Tuesday, September 16, 2008


C. is our guest blogger today. Thanks C.! I'll enjoy my day off and I'm sure people will enjoy your post!


Several months ago I attended a meeting held by a local apologetics society. I remember shaking the moderator’s hand when it was over and smirking as I told him he was a brave man. The moderator was a pillar of well-formed faith, but this meeting had attracted just about every possible caricature of a Catholic.
There was a middle-aged woman who told us all the wonderful things a New Age nun was teaching her: something about secrets written in Sanskrit and how wind and sand talk to us. Another guy was there with his son and was clearly perturbed about recent scandals in the Church and despite his agitation, was there sincerely seeking faith.

Sitting directly across the table from me was a guy who really knew his stuff! This guy not only knew his faith well, but he also had a lot of secular knowledge that supported the Faith (I was particularly impressed that he knew Nietzsche died in a madhouse.) But every time this guy started to speak, you could feel the tension rise in the room. He didn’t share the Faith…he didn’t present the Faith…he bludgeoned you with it!
I think one of the biggest mistakes faithful, well formed Catholics make it that we think that if we don’t defend the Faith like a bazooka to the face that somehow we are watering it down. There is a difference between zeal and defensiveness.

I remember searching for the fullness of the Faith years ago and even though I was desperate to know the Truth, I was horrified that someone might actually tell me. God was good enough to reveal the Faith to me in chunks that I could deal with, understand, and accept and he gave me time to let my faith grow roots. Now that I have the answers I longed for and am so jazzed about it, sometimes I forget how patient God was with me and I find myself losing my temper as I try and CRAM the Truth down a stubborn person’s throat.

I read a great letter to the editor in This Rock magazine last summer from a “chastened apologist” and it really struck a chord with me. He said he had three rules for doing battle:
1) Stand up. State the truth clearly and dispassionately. Shut up and sit down.

2) Realize the only weapon the Christian possesses is the cross. It is not to be wielded against your opponent. It is to be crawled up on.

3) Live a clean life.

“If you do this, the truth will do the rest. The ontological reality is that all men’s hearts were made for the truth. The truth does not belong to you; it belongs to God, so at best you are a conduit.”
There are situations that call for a little extra zeal, but in general, this guy’s advice works for me. When I must defend the Faith, I try to approach everyone with a mother’s heart and this attitude is almost universally accepted. If you really want to win people over, be there for them when they have problems – your words will carry weight in their minds AND hearts.
I was so impressed with the disgruntled father and son team at that apologetics discussion because I knew if I felt the way they did, this meeting would be the last place I would go. I’m sure they were overwhelmed when it was through. I approached the dad and warmly shook his hand and smiled and said, “I hope you find what you are looking for.” His scowling face turned positively angelic.
Jesus did not give us the cross to bash people over the head with it. We have to ask, “Would I listen to me? Would I be attracted to someone who behaves like I do?” If you want to convey the truths of the Faith in a way that really “seals the deal”, be clear, be gentle, and point people in the direction of resources that can help them live a Godly life. We need to have that strong, uncompromising, joyful, charitable attitude that makes people say, “I want what she’s got!”


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post. I tend to want to overwhelm the seeker with my knowledge of the faith. So, I have to be very careful.

Anonymous said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

C, if you would ever be interested in talking about apologetics to a young adult group that meets at Gaurdian Angels (I am not sure if you live locally or not) please let me know groundsforfaith@yahoo.com