by Tim Rohr, 10/04/2005
You're busy doing what you're supposed to be doing at work and a co-worker makes an off-hand anti-Catholic remark. You're mowing the lawn and a group of nicely dressed people with umbrellas and handbags wave to catch your attention. You're preparing dinner for the family and you answer a knock on the door and find your Catholic faith being challenged.
Would that we all would take the time to learn our faith not only well enough to defend it, but to advance it. We can all work toward that. Meanwhile, because of the everyday, on the spot nature of the majority of the challenges to our faith, many of us find ourselves in immediate need of a way to deal with a co-worker, a family member, or fellow students who question and challenge or even impugn our Holy Mother Church.
Listening to the likes of Scott Hahn, James Akin, Patrick Madrid, or even our own Fr. Eric, or my good friend, Dr. Robert Morgan, can be quite daunting. Their grasp of scripture and their skill can leave many of us, including me, inspired, but thinking "I could never do that".
Well, the good news is that you don't have to, at least not right away. You can handle any challenger to the Catholic faith with a simple two-step method: 1. Buy Time; 2. Run for help!
Protestant Pete: "Why do you Catholics worship idols in clear violation of the teachings of the Bible!?”
Catholic Cathy: “You know Pete, that's a good question. I'd really like to talk to you about that. But now's not a good time. Could we get together tomorrow after work? “
If it was a comment instead of a question just change the words around a bit: "You know Pete, that's a really interesting thought..."
Buy as much time as you want. It could be next week or whenever. The main thing is not to get stuck trying to answer the other person's question or respond to his or her comment without proper preparation. Also, make the sign of the cross and say a short prayer before opening thy mouth.
Now, run for help. It would be best to find a knowledgeable member of the clergy to actually meet with you and Pete, because not only do you want to answer Pete's challenge, you want to use the opportunity to begin brining him "home to Rome". So try your pastors first.
There are also a number of excellent resources that you can consult, but before I tell you what they are I need to advise you about your upcoming meeting with Protestant Pete. Of course if you can get a pastor or an informed lay person to come with you then all you have to do is let them do the talking. But since most often you'll probably have to deal with challenger alone, keep the same two step method in mind. Prepare your answer, but be prepared for Protestant Pete to take your answer apart or change the subject. If that happens, simply say something like: "Pete, I can appreciate your point of view on this, however, I would like to think more about what you said before I reply. Can we get together again tomorrow?"
Now here are a few resources that you can begin adding to your apologetics library.
1. The whole Beginning Apologetics Series Vol.1-7, but Volumes 1 and 2 will definitely be enough to get you started.
2. Beginning Apologetics on tape. This is an in depth discussion of the above Volume 1. You can learn much listening to these in your car, your bathroom, or wherever you have a tape player.
3. Catholic Verse Finder. This is a single laminated sheet that functions like an Apologetics concordance.
4. Topic Tabs - enable you to set up your Bible so that you can quickly and easily find the bible verse that supports the Catholic teaching.
Also, one more note. It's best not to quote the scripture itself, but to quote Chapter and Verse and put it in the form of a question. Example. When you reply to Protestant Pete's original question, instead of saying "well God certainly didn't mean not to make graven images because later on He says to Moses to make a bronze serpent”, try it this way: Well, Pete, what is your interpretation of Numbers 21:8?
Well, more later.