An Ever-Changing Perspective
When I started this blog, I started it with some pretty lofty goals. In fact, I find it pretty funny to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote in the first few introductory posts. But still, over the past few months, I’ve been thinking and wondering to myself whether or not this site is living up to its name. Have I really made this site an apologetics reference for Catholic teenagers?
And, after a lot of thought…I’ve found that the answer is yes. But what surprises me is how much my idea of apologetics has changed over the course of time that I’ve had this blog.
You see, when I first started this site, I thought of apologetics as a simple task, in that it consisted of a question and a logically laid out answer. So, for example, if someone asked why I confess my sins to a priest, I would give a response with the appropriate references to the Catechism and to Scripture. That was how I thought of apologetics because, after all, apologetics IS the defense of the Faith.
You guys will have noticed that the posts in that vein have dwindled in recent months. I don’t do a whole lot of straight Q&A anymore, and I thought that I was wandering away from the purpose of this site in doing so.
Nowadays, society is much more secularized. Faith is criticized for being hypocritical, naive, and impractical. The Catholic Church, specifically, is accused of being out of date, authoritarian, and just downright controlling. You can answer these criticisms of the Church and of faith in general with clear, logical arguments. You can philosophize and theologize all day long with people and show your awesome intelligence and your extensive knowledge of both Scripture and logic. But you know what? I’ve come to realize that that doesn’t speak to people.
I would argue that the BEST way to defend the Faith, the BEST way to answer the accusations and criticisms of the world today, is to live a life of joy–the joy that comes from knowing and loving Jesus Christ. That is a powerful witness, stronger than any logical argument and more persuasive than any amount of reasoning. You do need to learn about the Church and know your Faith…but you can’t stop there. The Catholic Faith is so much more than a long list of Q&A. It’s so much more beautiful than a set of facts and figures. It’s so much more than bantering back and forth.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. -James 2:14-17
Do we run the risk, I wonder, of using words only? Do we run the risk of worrying too much about concepts that we are blind to the people in front of us? Can we, in defending the Faith, actually lose sight of what the Faith really means?
Now, don’t get me wrong–I’m not knocking this form of apologetics. I find it to be both useful and helpful, and it’s also a good resource for us. But I think that we can water apologetics down and make it all about being able to recite answers to questions when, in fact, it is about living our Faith and showing the love and mercy of Christ to the world.
Don’t tell someone what the love of God is like or how it has been shown throughout salvation history. Live it in your daily life. Show them yourself what it is to love with Christ’s heart! Don’t rattle off a list of what it means to be Catholic. Show them! Do good works, help others, set yourself aside in your care for those around you. Don’t tell people all of the “rules” you “have” to follow as a Catholic. Show them the joy that the Church gives you! Live with the freedom and the joy of Christ in your heart, and it will be impossible for people not to notice. And when they do notice, they will ask. And then you will need to be prepared to give answers. But when you do, make sure that you aren’t looking at the discussion as a Q&A. Make sure that you are walking with that person as Christ did on the road to Emmaus. Make sure you are listening to that person’s concerns. Make sure that your discussion is grounded in love and concern for that person. Make sure you are as patient with that person as Christ is patient with you.
People today are searching for peace, love, and hope. THAT is what the Church has to offer them. THAT is what Christ promises. Be an apologist by living according to that peace, love, and hope that you possess in knowing Jesus Christ. Be ready to share that with others.