“Ask a Priest: What If I Don’t Speak Up for the Faith Enough?”

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Q:  Last night we were out with two couples, and one couple brought up that their butcher asked them if they were Christian. They said, “Yes,” and he said, “Me, too – I was a Catholic Christian and now I’m just Christian.” The butcher went on to say that he didn’t need all those restrictions, rules, etc. – that we just need to be good people, that’s all Jesus wants of us. Both couples agreed wholeheartedly with that (three are Protestant and one is an ex-Catholic who goes to services with his wife). And then we moved on to other conversation. It’s been bothering me ever since, that neither my husband nor I defended our Catholic faith and Jesus. We have no courage! I went to confession about it, and my priest said that I have to love Jesus enough to want to talk about him – that it’s a great joy to have/know Jesus. I agree completely, but I don’t know how! What could/should I have said? I wish there were courses on this or videos or something. I wanted to say something but did not know what. I have the same trouble with my brother and sister who are now big megachurch fans. They say God loves everybody and all faiths are on their own journey to God. What would you suggest I say/do? – E.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Your priest gave a great answer. We are enthusiastic about people we love. We talk about them. We think about them. It’s much the same with Jesus.

A short addendum to that answer would be to try to permeate your life in the Catholic faith as much as possible. Loving Christ and wanting to share your experience of him with others is the sign of a Catholic who has caught fire with the faith.

This involves different levels. The most important is your prayer life and sacramental life.

It would help, too, to give yourself the goal of learning more about your faith. Give yourself the goal of, say, reading the New Testament in full between now and the end of the year. Or reading a book of Catholic apologetics (defense of the faith) at least every three months. One suggestion: The Essential Catholic Survival Guide is a handy work.

There are lots of fine contemporary Catholic apologists and scholars such as Peter Kreeft, Karl Keating, Patrick Madrid, Jeff Cavins, Bishop Robert Barron, and Trent Horn. And they only represent the tip of the iceberg.

Look into what Catholic publishers such as Ignatius Press, Ascension Press, OSV, and Sophia (to name a few) are offering. There are hundreds of fine books that will help you delve deeper into the faith.

You might look into helping out at your parish, too. You might organize adoration for vocations and get a Bible study going.

Evangelization, like charity, begins at home. What do you and your husband talk about in the normal course of a day? Do you touch on the faith? About events going on in the universal Church or your own diocese? Do you discuss Catholic books or periodicals that you read?

If you can weave those things into daily conversation, it will be easier to speak about them with others.

If ever you run into this situation again, don’t get discouraged. Learn from your mistakes. If someone raises an objection to the Church, and you don’t have an answer, do some research. Catholic Answers is a great resource. You and your spouse can talk through ways to deal with some questions that arise.

In other words, you want to jump in the deep end of the pool when it comes to your faith. Read about it. Talk about it. Display signs of your faith proudly.

And remember – big point! – to pray for folks who either are hostile to the Church or who have left it.

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