I call this strategy the Ignorant Catholic strategy. However, always follow…always follow! Take advantage of that. The worst thing you can do is to try to "wing" it. Especially when there is an answer out there, you just have to go find it. No harm in not answering at that moment so that you can come back better prepared. What you have just done by being the "Ignorant Catholic" is you have performed a tactical retreat from the battlefield, a retreat where you have suffered no losses. But, you now have the advantage. The next time you talk about Purgatory with this person will be when, where, and how you decide to do it.
And you will talk about Purgatory, or whatever topic, with this person again. Once someone questions, or even attacks, the Catholic faith in front of you, the door has been opened. Do not let that door shut! You go and do your homework. You listen to a CD, read a book, do your internet research — whatever you need to do — and then, when you are ready, you get back to that person with further dialogue, with books, with pamphlets, with tapes, with whatever — but, do not let that door shut!
It could be the next day, the next week, the next month, or six months later, but you get back with that person! You could get back with them in person, you could write a letter, make a phone call, send an email. In a nutshell, this strategy is about learning to ask questions rather than answer them. Catholics seem to always be on the defensive when it comes to talking about the Bible or about religion in general. Where is that in the Bible?
We are always answering questions. We need to start asking the questions, we need to go on the offensive instead of always being on the defensive. Most non-Catholic Christians are not prepared to deal with a Catholic who can answer their questions, so when they do come across one, they generally retreat and wait for a softer target, or they get offended by what you have to say and refuse to discuss the matter any more.
Sometimes that cannot be avoided. Afterall, truth is offensive to a lot of people, just look at what happened to Truth itself — He offended people — they crucified Him. Truth can also be very scary to people. However, if you can avoid causing offense and if you can avoid scaring them away, then you want to do so. You want to keep them engaged, you want them to come back for more.
So, how do you be Aw-fensive without being Uh-fensive? You simply let them evangelize you! Whenever someone starts coming at me with questions about the Catholic Faith or attacks on the Faith, I just let them bring it on. The number one principle in Judo is to use the opponents force against him. I believe that. I want to know the truth, because to know the truth is to know Jesus Christ! You can stop there, but I usually go on further by saying: "And, if you can prove to me that the Catholic Church is wrong on any of its doctrines, any single one, then I will renounce my Faith and I will be fellowshipping and worshipping side-by-side with you this Sunday in your church.
If anyone can ever convince me that the Catholic Church is wrong on any one of its doctrinal teachings, just one, then I would leave the Church. In other words, they cannot prove the Church wrong. Even if they can confuse you or befuddle you or aggravate you or twist your arguments around, they cannot now, nor will they ever, be able to prove the Catholic Church wrong.
Remember, there is nothing in the Bible contrary to the Catholic Faith and there is nothing in the Catholic Faith contrary to the Bible. So, what have you accomplished by saying these things? By telling them that you are searching for truth and that you are open to hearing their arguments that the Church might be wrong? And, what does a good student do? Ask questions. And all of these things lead to one very important result: You have gotten them to lower their defenses.
The Trojan horse is inside the city walls. You have made them think that they are on the offense, that they are evangelizing you, that they are in control of this dialogue, and that they have an opportunity to possibly pluck you out of the Church — when actually the exact opposite is true.
You are on the offense, you are evangelizing them, you are in control of the dialogue, and you are about to expose them to truths that they may never have considered before. You are about to plant some seeds. You might just be about to open the cage door. It is no longer you vs. It is no longer Catholic vs. Baptist or Catholic vs. Evangelical or anything else like that. And you hope that they are willing to follow the truth wherever it leads. Remember, your mission is to plant the seeds. Your mission is to open the cage door. Okay, what does all this mean in terms of hands-on, real life situations?
How do I put into effect the strategy of being Aw-fensive without being Uh-fensive? Step 2 is this: ask questions. Be the good student, ask questions. Stop answering questions and start asking them. Answer questions with questions, just like Jesus did. An example: Non-Catholic question, "Why do you Catholics believe in confessing your sins to a priest, a mere man, instead of straight to God?
That we should confess our sins to God alone? And, in Mt , it says that God gave the authority on earth to forgive sins to "men? Why would God give the authority on earth to forgive sins to men, if we are supposed to confess our sins to God alone? And take them to Matthew , read it to them, and say, "What does that mean? But I think you believe in salvation by faith alone, right? Where in the Bible does it say that we are saved by faith alone? You know what? What came out of his mouth was faith "alone. Nor does the Bible say faith "alone. Because any non-Catholic doctrine that they are trying to justify from Scripture, cannot be justified from Scripture — not when Scripture is interpreted in context.
Pay close attention to what they say and pay close attention to what the Bible says, I guarantee that the two will not match. This is where it is necessary to have it ingrained in you that there is nothing in the Bible that is contrary to the Catholic Faith. Because when you ask your questions, you will get hit with Bible verse after Bible verse. And a good habit to adopt is this: whenever someone puts a Bible verse in front of you that "proves" the Catholic Church is wrong, just slam your hand down on that Bible and say, " AMEN!!!
I believe it. However, I do not necessarily agree with your fallible interpretation of that passage. You have to pay close attention to the answers you get to your questions. After one or two questions, the answers start to contradict each other, but you have to be paying attention so that you can point out the inconsistencies.
With just one or two questions, you can cause some folks some major consistency problems. Remember that. This is very important. When you get to your second or third question on the same topic, I can guarantee you that most of the responses you receive will start contradicting themselves. But, always keep in mind the "Ignorant Catholic" technique. By asking questions of your "teacher," you are simply being a good student, a curious student. Through your questions, you are in fact the one doing the evangelizing. Children: A Model for Family Growth Catechizing the Family Living the Sacramental Life as a Family Catholic Devotions for the Family Catechizing and Evangelizing the Family Why Catholics Don't Evangelize This program deals with just how it is that Jesus, Mary and Joseph are the perfect model for all Catholic homes.
Scott looks at each of their roles in the family and examines the example each one sets for all of us. I just read a statistic 48 hours ago that since the Roman Catholic Church around the world has suffered the loss of approximately one-quarter billion members. One-quarter billion members of the Catholic Church have been lost since !
That statistic is so staggering that you really can't make much sense out of it. The number is just too far beyond our own imagination. Just take Latin America for example. Thirty years later, in the s, that had multiplied by seven to a point where you had approximately 15 million Protestants in the s, almost all of them were ex-Catholic. In the s, 40 million. In the s the statistics range between 80 to million. From 2. What is going on? The director of our institute, a former Catholic, talks about how so many Catholics are overly active in social justice matters to the neglect of evangelism and Bible study and the devotional, interior and spiritual life.
He talks about how they have voted for social justice and social action, whereas the people they have been devoted to have voted with their feet for evangelical Christianity. What is it about evangelical Christianity that is so attractive? I believe it's very simple - the Sacred Scriptures, the holy Bible. Vatican II has declared once more that studying Sacred Scripture is the soul of theology. What is theology without scripture, or what is a body without a soul? We call it corpse where I come from. When you study theology or catechism apart from the Bible, you're studying something that appears to be lifeless.
It's the Bible that testifies to the mighty acts of God in salvation history, a loving, omnipotent Father acting on behalf of His family, loving His children back home. That's the message of scripture summed up in one word, covenant, a family plan, God's family covenant with His children. That is what we need to recover as Catholic Christians.
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Jerome once said, "A man who is well-grounded in the testimony of scripture is the bulwark of the Church. Are there men and women who hear me who want to be a pillar, a foundation, a bulwark of Holy Mother the Church? Thomas Aquinas declares that our faith receives its surety from scripture. So we need to study scripture. We need to study books that will help open scripture for us.
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We need to love people enough to spend the time and expend the energy to study, to think. Dare to be doctrinal. Dogma is the food of the mind. As the mouth comes down upon the bread to nourish the body, so the mind is made by God to come down upon the dogmas of our Church to nourish the soul. But doctrine divides. Doctrine from scripture is what is attracting tens of millions of Bible Christians out of the Catholic Church and into the Evangelical church. We need to be Bible Christians. We need to study scripture.
John Paul II just recently, in evaluating and assessing the loss of tens of millions of Catholics in Latin America, in South America, especially Brazil, said in two words what we need to hear, "Abandon timidity! We are suffering losses that are far too great for us to excuse ourselves, for us to pawn it off on our priests or to complain and bad-mouth our Bishops or to congratulate ourselves on retaining orthodoxy and purism.
We are called to extend the crown rights of King Jesus Christ and nothing less will suffice on Judgment Day. And the Church cannot survive in this land unless people like you respond. Go home tonight and say, "Lord, show me two or three, or just one or two ways in which I can begin to implement the idealism and the challenges that I heard all day today.
Just one or two. Ask the Lord to increase your charity, the love that you have for brothers and sisters who have been drawn away from the Living Bread, the heavenly manna, the Body and the Blood, the Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist for what amounts to junk food in comparison to the Blessed Sacrament.
Love them enough or love the Lord enough. Bonaventure once said that the day you no longer burn with love and concern for souls, many others will die of the cold. Where can we go to increase our love? To whom can we turn to find help? I am convinced that the Holy Spirit has raised up hopes in this century to focus our attention and to concentrate our devotion upon the Holy Family. Because in the Holy Family we are going to find the source of strength.
We are going to find the encouragement we need when we have distressful losses on all sides. The Holy Family is the place where we go when we feel like weak nobodies, incapable of withstanding the onslaught of the enemies of the Church, because Christ has raised up the Holy Family as the model of the Christian home, to be sure, but as the nucleus of the New Covenant Church-family of God showing that through detachment, through renunciation, through poverty, through mortification, through trials and sufferings, the war will be won.
The Savior will be born and salvation will spill out in all directions and cover the earth. If I had to put my finger on the biggest difference between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, it would be on the difference between the Holy Family and me and Jesus. In my preaching, my teaching, my praying, my reading; all my considerations were focused on Jesus. Gradually Our Lord began to show me that that wasn't all He was concerned about. If He, the Lord Jesus Christ is the bridegroom, as my wife has said on other occasions, what bridegroom wants all of the guests at the wedding just to simply stare at him?
Doesn't the bridegroom want you to behold the glory of the bride, the Church? So Jesus was intent upon introducing me to His family and many others as well. I don't know. But devotion to the Holy Family, attention to the Holy Family, awareness, even superficial awareness, of the importance of the Holy Family is hard to find and very thin and sparse as I travel around the country speaking. Marian devotion, I can't recommend it too highly; but it is a part of a whole and that whole is the Holy Family. Scriptural Basis for the Devotion to the Holy Family.
Now, I have to confess something; that the Holy Family represented one of the biggest obstacles for me to embrace the Catholic faith.
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The Holy Family, all the devotionalism that seemed to surround the Holy Family, struck me as so much gushy sentimentality, a lot of extra- Biblical mush that you couldn't find in Sacred Scripture. After all, you look at the Bible, you read the New Testament, you study the gospels and where is the Holy Family?
It isn't there. So it must not be important, right? I began to recognize that the gospels are meant to lead you deeper into contemplative study and prayer. So that you are not just studying the words, you're studying the meaning behind the words. You're not just studying the meaning behind the words, you're studying the reality behind the meaning in the words.
And what do you end up with when you study the reality of Jesus' life as the gospels present it? You have approximately thirty-some years of Jesus' lifetime, say thirty-three. Of those thirty-three years, thirty of them are silent. Now, why is that? Why did Jesus choose to sit around quietly, invisibly for thirty years?
I mean, with all due respect Lord, let's get on with redemption, huh? He would say, "I am. Not only was it redemptive, it was redeeming; so that He invites us to recognize that when we are faithful to our spouse, when we focus upon our families with devotion and love, we are entering into a deeper share of Christ's own redemptive work. Now, we have no trouble seeing that when we evangelize, when we catechize, when we do apologetics or when we organize conferences like this one, when we participate in some parish prayer group or Bible study, we see in those occasions very easily how we share in Christ's redemptive work.
But can we see, when we go home from those activities, when we snap at our kids and we get impatient at the third interruption before we've even finished grace before dinner, that we are losing out on opportunities to share in Christ's redemptive work and what really constitutes the bulk of Jesus' mission?
The majority of Jesus' time here on earth was spent, from one perspective, wasting His time. Let's get on with redemption? He was. We need to remember that. We need to see that Jesus Christ's mission on earth from the moment of His conception to His ascension into heaven was our redemption. There was not a split second that Jesus Christ was not busily at work redeeming us, taking into himself the rich, concrete, practical realities of everyday human existence and uniting them to Divine life, Divine love and spirituality.
So that, whatever we do - scrubbing pots and pans, sweeping the floor, cleaning the garage, teaching our kids how to use a hammer and nails - whatever we do is in some way a share in Christ's redemptive work. Christ assumes all of humanity in a concrete, practical way; and He does so in a concrete, practical home, the Holy Family in Nazareth.
I want to challenge you this evening to go home and practice a new type of mortification. I want to encourage you to do the typical ones, you know, fasting, fish on Fridays, whatever you choose along those lines.
But I want you to practice the mortification of cheerfulness. Coming home from a hard day's work and smiling! My father-in-law challenged me, just three months ago, he said, "When you leave work," because the Franciscan University of Steubenville is work, it's holy work, it's joyful work, but I tell you it's draining work. I refer to my students as loving, highly motivated brain suckers! I'd never seen it before, because they want to know the Bible.
They want to know Church history. They want to know apologetics. They want to know how to evangelize and catechize, and every time I'm leaving my office, I feel like a wrung-out dish cloth. Last year I really struggled with coming home. First of all, wanting to come home. I wanted to find a pine tree and snooze for twenty years.
I wanted to find a hole and crawl into it. I was so exhausted, so bewildered, in fact, at how many students had such desire to learn their faith and share it. But I discovered that after I was doing so much of God's work, so spiritual, so theological, so religious, so catechetical, I'd come home and be an A number one, first-class jerk, to my wife first and then to my kids because, after all, my spiritual clout was what was really important. You can't do that for very long and continue praying without being electrocuted by the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
My father- in-law gave me very practical advice. He said, "When you come down from that holy hill of Franciscan University and you cross over Route 22, just picture yourself crossing over the Jordan River and entering the Promised Land, because that's what your home is. Jesus spent approximately three years in public ministry; about thirty years in the interior quiet of ordinary domestic life.
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He took the time that God, the Father, allotted Him and He gave a tenth of it to public ministry and external works. He could have tithed aside on His time, and then He devoted ninety percent of it to fostering love, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and all the other fruits of the Holy Spirit in His own home, with His own mother and with His own father. Why did God choose to launch our redemption in the quiet confines of a Nazareth house? I think it's a fair question, because God wants us to probe His own deeper reasons behind His saving works. I didn't find an answer to that until I began to contemplate the mystery of the Holy Family while praying the rosary.
I realized that you could sum up salvation history throughout scripture in one line, with one question.
And that is, where is the Holy Family? Where is the Holy Family? You go back to the very beginning and there you would expect to find the Holy Family. After all, God, the Blessed Trinity, is creating mankind after His own image and likeness, male and female, husband and wife, urging them to be fruitful and multiply that the two become one and then become three and four and five and six, and fill the earth. There would be a Holy Family, created sinless, created with Divine grace, called to be children of God. There you would expect to find the Holy Family, the replica of the Blessed Trinity within creation, and what do you find?
A husband and a wife who rebel against their Lord and Father in heaven and who rebel against the covenant of marriage in effect and sow the seeds of disgrace for their whole family, which we are.
You don't find a Holy Family a few days or weeks after the creation of the first human couple. It becomes, obviously, a very unholy family. So what is God going to do about that? God intervenes decisively in salvation history.
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Perhaps we're going to find the Holy Family with Noah. After all, He declares that Noah is a righteous man, standing out from all the other people who were so unrighteous and wicked and violent that God had to judge the earth with a destructive flood, with Noah and his wife and their three sons on that ark, set apart by God for the salvation of the world.
There at last we have a Holy Family, right? As soon as they disembark Noah gets drunk. His son, Ham, pulls off a rebellious and perverse act of disobedience and for it Ham and his son Canaan are cursed and the family is split and divided all over again. It's like a broken record; oh no, here we go again. So it didn't work with Adam, even though he had been created sinless.
It didn't work with Noah, although he was a righteous and blameless man who was so exclusively unique in all the world. I'll bet you it's going to begin at last with Abraham, the third covenant figure in salvation history. Because after all, Abraham was a righteous man, a man of faith, the father of faith. Abraham in his older years, in his 70s was willing to abandon his culture, his family, his property. He was willing to give up everything when the Lord called him. Mark He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
For them not faith but only baptism is required, that original sin may be washed away and supernatural grace imparted to them. John Jesus answered. Verily, verily, I say unto thee. Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. Hence this text applies to both babes and adults. Acts 8. Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
Acts And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. But the Sacrament itself remains the same when conferred by a lawfully consecrated Bishop as a successor of the Apostles. Mark 14, And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: This is my body.
And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. John 6, Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you; ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. John 6, For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. I am the bread of life For I came down from heaven, etc. The Jews then murmured at him, because he said I am the bread which came down from heaven, etc. I am that bread of life.
Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. Nor is it Christ's flesh as He expressly states of his Holy Eucharist. John 6, The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, how can this man give us his flesh to eat?
FIVE The Bible teaches that in spite of the Jews' most strenuous objections-Christ did not correct or modify his statement which he would have done had there been a misunderstanding ; but insisted the more upon the reality of his presence in the Eucharist. John 6, Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and by blood is drink indeed.
He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven; not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead; he that eateth of this bread shall live forever. COMMENT: Even taken as an isolated proof, this is unassailable, but taken as a part of a chain of proofs, it becomes as impregnable as a wall of solid granite. John Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, this is an hard saying; who can hear it?
From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. See also John 3, 3 to 7 and John 8, John 6, Then said Jesus unto the twelve. Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him. Lord, to whom shall we go? And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. He believed and knew that Christ was God, therefore he accepted his divine word, difficult to understand, though it may have been.
Catholics lovingly do the same. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. COMMENT: Let unbelievers in the truth of our Lord's real presence endeavor to show how the taking of a mere piece of bread or a sip of wine could be a desecration of Christ himself and a crime worthy of damnation. Where today except in the Catholic Church do we find among Christians an altar of sacrifice and a pure offering, i.
Numbers 5, Speak unto the children of Israel. When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit. Then they shall confess their sin which they have done, etc. Proverbs 28, He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. II Samuel 12, After David confessed his sins to the prophet Nathan he was given assurance of pardon. Luke 23, When the thief on the cross confessed, our Lord promised him paradise. I John 1, 9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, etc.
And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. Acts 19, And many that believed came to the Apostles , and confessed, and shewed their deeds. COMMENT: Private confession is necessarily contained in the double power which Christ gave to the Church-the power to forgive or retain sins as the circumstances require. To do so prudently-the "minister of reconciliation" must have the required information, which the penitent supplies by confession. John Then said Jesus to them again. Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so I send you.
But who will say there is no longer any need of the power to forgive sin, that sin is no longer a live problem upon earth? James 5, Is any sick among you? And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up, and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. COMMENT: As all such spiritual ordinances derived from Christ and the Apostles were of their very nature perpetual, there is absolutely no reason for saying that Extreme Unction as here described was but a temporary institution.
John 20, Then said Jesus to them again. Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. The fact that an occasional individual may be faithless to his obligations proves nothing against Christ or his Church. The fact that many slander and vilify the priests, only makes them so much the more like their Divine Master. TWO The Bible teaches that the office of the bishop, priests, etc. John 15, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit; and that your fruit should remain- that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
Peace be unto you; as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. COMMENT: Most unscriptural, therefore, is the practice of congregations ordaining, commissioning their ministers to preach the gospel to them. This authority comes from Christ, through the Apostles and their lawful successors. Titus For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders i.
Acts 13, 2 and 3: As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. COMMENT: In view of this, it is difficult to see how any one can take it upon himself to nullify the word of God, by having women preachers, ministers or evangelists.
What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. Of old it cost her nearly the whole of England.
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