Today I received a great blessing….I had a chance to defend and explain the Catholic Faith. And yes, that is a blessing.
Even though I teach theology every week day to unwilling youth forced to bear my class on pain of not graduating, who provide ample opportunity to defend the Faith, today was different.
I also answer many questions emailed to me from this blog, yet today’s defense was new.
It happened outside of the classroom and out of the bounds of email. It happened at Starbucks.
On my way home from school, I stopped off to get a cup of coffee and I patiently awaited my turn in line. When the man at the register received his beverage, he turned around and saw the hat I was wearing and asked were I got it. I told him and he confessed that he was looking all over for a hat to wear with a suit. The conversation then moved onto my profession. I told him that I taught theology at a Catholic High School. It then came out that he was an ex-Catholic. I asked why he left.
Immediately, I could sense the Holy Spirit at work. I’ve never had a situation like this occur before. Here I am minding my own business, seeking nothing but a cup of good coffee for the drive home and I end up engaged in a twenty minute conversation about the Catholic Church. We explored all aspects of the Faith; Mary, the Saints, the Structure of the Church, the Papacy/Authority, Salvation Outside of the Church, Purgatory, excommunication, etc. He kept jumping around as I answered each objection he brought forth. I didn’t mind, I expected it (this is the way most Protestants debate against a Catholic). Then we came to the real reason why he is an “ex” Catholic. He left when he was in college after seeing so many Catholics around him not living the whole Faith, but rather picking and choosing what they want to believe.
The scandal of “Catholics” who go against the teaching of the Church is great, as evidenced by Joe Biden and Notre Dame. Yet, I appeal to all non-Catholics out there, do not judge the Church by those who claim to be members, yet refuse to obey its teachings. You would not judge any Protestant denomination by that standard, so why the Catholic Church? Rather, look to what the Church believes and teaches and look to the faithful who do indeed strive to live out their faith. For every cafeteria Catholic that is produced, a Catholic who adheres to the Church’s teaching can also be found. Look not upon the sins of the people, but the Faith of the Church!
I left him with my number in case he wanted to dialogue more and also a recommendation to read Scott Hahn’s book “Reasons to Believe.” We will see what comes of it. I believe that with the Holy Spirit’s help a few seeds were planted and he will again begin to think about the teachings of the Catholic Church. Hopefully he will realize that the Bible does not contradict the teachings of the Church and the Church does not contradict the Bible.
The point of this post is to be prepared! You don’t need a Masters Degree in Theology to be able to defend the Faith. All you need is to be committed to the study of the Bible (read it daily), the Catechism (read it with the Bible), read books on how to defend the faith (from authors such as Hahn, Madrid, Kreeft, Aquilina, Armstrong, etc.), and pray that the Holy Spirit will grant you the wisdom to know how to answer any questions that may come your way. Always be prepared to make a defense for the hope that is within you….even at your local coffee shop.