A Catholic apologist and an exorcist priest from the Philippines, Father Darwin Gitgano, highlighted these three objectives of Catholic Apologetics during an online meeting with a group of Catholic Faith Defenders Cooperators (some aspiring to be official Catholic Faith Defenders in the future) on May 24, 2020. The priest emphasized the importance of defending the Catholic Faith in our times today when many people thirst for the truth amidst all the confusions caused by the attacks against the Mother Church.
Apologetics is of course not to silence and condemn anyone who do not confess the Catholic Faith. It has to be done with a dose of ecumenism and should not cause enmity between the attacker and the defender. Many of us have experienced debates that ended up badly to a point of unfriending an opponent. This is because we want to shame them of their false beliefs instead of having a friendly conversation about each other’s views.
Catholic Apologetics, if done well, could lead many to rediscover the beauty of Catholicism and why becoming a Catholic and practicing the faith is of vital importance for one’s soul. In apologetics, numerous souls are at stake, so, an apologist should be well equipped with knowledge and skills prior to engaging in faith-based discussions. It would be better for “unprepared apologist who confuse more souls” if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea. This is how I understand Jesus’s words in Luke 17:2. So, here are what aspiring apologists should look forward in their future apostolate:
Explain our belief in God
First, Catholic apologists should be able to explain why they believe in God without using the Bible. Those who do not believe in God do not believe in the Bible or any written account about a person or happenings related to anything divine or supernatural. Still, an apologist can make use of reasoning Saint Thomas Aquinas and other philosophers use to prove that there is someone beyond time and space who has power over everything seen and unseen.
Second, apologists should be able to explain God’s plan of salvation for humanity through Jesus Christ. To our Buddhist and Hindu brethren, they will not believe in the Sacred Scriptures because they also have sacred writings of their own. They even have sacred traditions handed over to them by their ancestors. They have their own prophets and saints too. To our Muslim and Jewish brethren, we cannot use the New Testament because they focus more on the Pentateuch and the writings of the Old Testament. Still, there are ways to explain to them our stand in a diplomatic way without starting a fight with them.
Explain the Catholic faith
Third, and most importantly, apologists should be able to explain to other Christians why the Catholic Church is the ONLY church that Christ built under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in the person of a Pope as Christ’s representative. This time we can use the entire Bible, the Sacred Tradition and the history of Christianity to defend our stand. Therefore, it is imperative for an apologist to be familiar with the Holy Bible, its history and the messages God wants to deliver to mankind through it. An apologist should be able to make reference in the Holy Bible the teachings of Catholicism.
Catholic apologetics is not to shame non-Catholics of their beliefs or force them to confess the Catholic faith. Conversion is God’s job, although, we are all encouraged to help defend God and his Church against those who attack her. If we do not study our faith we become easy preys for those who want us out of the Church, and once we are out of the Church, we no longer have access to the sacraments (instituted by Christ) that keep our souls alive and healthy.
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Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!