I’ve come to realize that this whole exercise is as much about deepening my own faith as it is in defending the faith against those who attack it from both inside and outside the Church. It was only during my reading this morning that I came to understand how intertwined these two ideas are. Reading Reasons to Believe by Scott Hahn, I came across this quote from the First Letter of Saint Peter:
Always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence (I Pet 3:15).
Hahn goes on to explain that the best way to defend our apostolic faith is with sound logic based on faith and reason. We need to avoid the temptation to give quick, curt answers to our attackers; well thought out, logical and eloquent replies will not only earn their respect, but will also plant the seeds of Truth in the fertile soil of their minds.
How do we best prepare ourselves, then? By becoming more knowledgeable of the reasons behind why we do what we do.
When challenged with the question of why I believe what I do as a Catholic and I’m not 100% sure of the answer, the first thing I do is turn to the Catechism. Too cumbersome to carry around, I rely mainly on online searchable catechisms, my favourite provided by the Knights of Columbus. I like using the Catechism because of the concise language, as well as the references to scripture and papal encyclicals that are provided in support.
To build up my knowledge of the faith, I rely on the group of theologians called apologists. When I first came across the term apologist, I thought it meant that we had to apologize for being Catholic. I soon learned that it was the term given to Church thinkers who make it their business to defend the faith based on logic and reasoning. Some of my favourite apologists to date include Fulton Sheen and Karl Keating, who has an excellent web site in Catholic Answers. At present I am only beginning to get to know Scott Hahn.
In the end, being an apologist and defending the faith is not an easy path to take. In his most recent article in the Catholic Register, Michael Coren tells us that if we are not being attacked for standing up for what we believe as Catholics, then we must be doing something wrong. You can read the article here.
By professing the Truth, you will not make others comfortable; no one likes to realize that they are wrong. But by deepening your faith and building a strong foundation of reason, you will always be prepared to defend Catholic teachings with both gentleness and reverence.