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The word “apologetics” has a technical meaning. It refers to explaining the Catholic faith to those who disagree with it or don’t understand it. The term comes from the Greek word “apologia”, which means explanation. In this use of the term, we are not talking about making an apology for some kind of offense or mistake, but rather explaining why the Catholic faith is true, reasonable, and redemptive. All mature Catholics needs to be able to do this in order to fulfill their mission as witnesses of Christ and missionaries in the world.
This Study Circle Guide simply enables you to utilize for small group study a series of books containing testimonies of a wide variety of people who converted to the Catholic faith. These people come from different backgrounds: Protestant, Jewish, Orthodox, Mormon, fallen-away Catholic, etc. Each chapter of these books contains a personal narration of how the person made his or her way into (or back into) the Catholic Church. The series of books is called Surprised by Truth and is edited by one of our generation’s great apologists, Patrick Madrid.
There are two ways to study apologetics, either argument by argument or through real-life case studies. The Surprised by Truth series offers a powerful opportunity for the second way, which we highly recommend because of its existential weight. Understanding the path taken by real converts to Catholicism equips you to help others take that path much more effectively than simply understanding abstract arguments divorced from real personal journeys.
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Did the witch of Endor really summon Samuel from the dead (1 Samuel 28:7-20)?
From Fr. Michael Baggot, author of this course:
If I remember correctly, I would have mentioned the witch of Endor as a case of necromancy condemned in scripture. Some Protestants claim that Catholics are guilty of such biblically sanctioned necromancy through devotion to the saints. However, when we pray to the saints, we can be confident that God is pleased with their intercession on our behalf. Revelation 5:8, 8:3-4 picture the saints in Heaven presenting their prayers to the Lord. In particular, Revelation 6:9-10 mentioned the saintly martyrs petitioning God on behalf of the faithful still suffering upon earth. Many Catholic churches maintain the custom of placing relics of the saints under Mass altars to recall the scriptural verse and our earthly participation in the heavenly liturgy. When Catholics (and Orthodox and some Anglicans) call upon the intercession of the saints, their prayers are directed to a deeper conformity with God’s will. In contrast, appeals to occult powers through mediums or games like the Ouija board look to manipulate the future or gain special knowledge apart from God’s providential plan. Some mediums today are mere charlatans who use psychological tricks to prey upon human weakness and gain money. However, it is also possible that some mediums manage to tap into dangerous occult forces. In the case of the witch from I Sam 28, it is possible that she managed to contact the ghostly spirit of Samuel without necessarily raising him from the dead in the sense that Jesus raised Lazarus.