EXPLAINING AND DEFENDING THE CATHOLIC FAITH
By Clare Walker, Holy Trinity In-House Writer
You’re grabbing your books from your locker. You’re eating lunch in the company break room. You’re dancing the polka at the wedding reception of a second cousin. And someone comes up to you--a classmate, co-worker, distant relation--and starts asking you questions: “Are you saved?” or “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?”
The usual Catholic response to this opening salvo is a slack-jawed blank stare, because we’re just not used to talking that way. What your Protestant friend is really asking you is “Are you serious about the practice of your faith as the living out of a personal commitment to Our Lord Jesus Christ?” Hopefully we can all answer “yes!” to that.
But then you may get some tough questions: “Why do you Catholics worship Mary?” (we don’t) or “How come you Catholics don’t respect the Bible?” (we do). But if you’re not prepared, you could find yourself spinning in circles under a barrage of questions and objections. Educate yourself so that you can answer questions and misconceptions about the Catholic faith.
Start with these excellent resources:
If you don’t have a copy of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, get down to the Catholic Shoppe in Westmont (on Ogden Avenue right next to Las Palmas Restaurant) and pick up a copy. Use this book to quickly find a short explanation of just about any Catholic teaching or practice. Keep it next to your Bible.
While you’re there, see if they have in stock any or all of the Beginning Apologetics titles by Jim Burnham and Fr. Frank Chacon. There are nine in the set. “Apologetics” comes from the Greek word apologia, which means “explanation.” It refers to the study of understandable explanations of Catholic belief and practice. Burnham & Chacon’s short workbooks are designed to quickly prepare a Catholic for challenges from any other religion (including Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses), worldview (including atheism) or ideology (including abortion advocacy and human cloning).
Catholic and Christian: An Explanation of Commonly Misunderstood Catholic Beliefs by Alan Schreck (St. Anthony Messenger Press) Dr. Schreck is a professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
The Catholic Answer is a bi-monthly magazine available from Our Sunday Visitor (www.osv.com)
Friendly Defenders Flashcards (www.ascensionpress.com) Each card has a common question or objection and the Catholic response. Covers a dozen topics such as Church, Tradition, Saints, Eucharist/Mass, and Papacy.
Learning what to say is just half the battle. Learning how to say it is the other half. Austen Ivereigh’s How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice provides an excellent introduction not only in what to say when people question or challenge your Catholic beliefs, but how to say it in a way that attracts rather than repels. The book’s subtitle says it all: “Civil Responses to Catholic Hot Button Issues.” (published by Our Sunday Visitor, 2012)
Prefer to listen as you drive or exercise? Lighthouse Catholic Media produces CDs and downloadable mp3 files for your computer or portable digital audio device. You can order select titles at the store (www.lighthousecatholicmedia.org) or join the “CD of the Month” Club.
And finally, remember that Catholics joyfully living their faith in accord with everything the Church teaches is sometimes the best defense!
Clare T. Walker, a Holy Trinity Parishioner since 2003, writes for the National Catholic Register (www.ncregister.com). She is also an independent fiction author. Here are some handy links to her website and her books:
Clare T. Walker
Sun: 7:00am, 9:00am, 11:00am
Daily Mass - Mon-Sat: 8:00am
Confession - Sat: 2:45 - 3:45pm
Holy Trinity Catholic Parish
25 East Richmond Street
Westmont, IL 60559