Defending the Faith
What does it mean to defend the faith?
As a Catholic attending a Methodist school for 10 years, there were times where I felt I was persecuted for my faith. I used to get remarks like “Why do you worship Mother Mary” or “Do you know you’re not saved”. I even had friends who used to mimic me making the sign of the cross. I guess my reaction to these was never very strong, and I remember my making the sign of the cross became smaller and smaller. Not because I was angry or afraid, but perhaps subconsciously I just wanted to avoid any unnecessary confrontation.
Today, that conversation has changed. I find myself having more healthy discussions with non-Catholic and non-Christian friends about my faith. Although I still do find times where things get a bit dicey, where I have friends who say “I still can’t reconcile Catholicism and how they worship Mother Mary”
The reality is that Defending my Faith is something I can’t run away from. In fact, it seems to be getting increasingly more important! And its not about winning an argument, but really about sharing our faith, and just helping to dispel any misconceptions that many folks may have about Catholics.
Questions and more questions
During community this week, we were posed 3 common questions, and broken up into groups to discuss.
- Who is in a better position to go to heaven: a firm believer in God who doesn’t attend mass vs a Sunday Catholic who lacks faith in God?
- Why do Catholics pray to Saints and Mary? Why not pray to God directly?
- Why do Catholics go for confession? Does the priest have the authority to forgive our sins on God’s behalf?
I found that as we discussed these questions, more questions than answers seem to come up.
For example, my group talked about “Why do we pray to Saints and to Mary.
After more discussion, our conclusions were the following:
- It is a misconception that we worship Mother Mary and the other Saints. What we do is that we ask them to pray for us, not pray to them.
- So why not pray to God directly? Saints are holy men/women not perfect, but have charisms and serve as role models. Isn’t great to have someone like Saint Joseph, who you can ask for help/intercessions to become a better man/father/husband
- The commonalities: We are all called to pray and love one another. And just as we ask our Christian brothers and sisters to pray for us, so can we ask the Saints who are brothers/sisters in heaven to pray for all
- After all, God listens to the prayers of the faithful. And isn’t grace multiplied when ‘2 or 3 are gathered in his name’
Now this is by no means conclusive. And amongst our group we started asking, so who decides the Saints? What separates Saints from Holy men and women?
Speak with action, serve with sincere love
It was an extremely thought provoking session, and I found the session wayyyy too short. But I guess we narrowed down how Defending the Faith can be done with 3 principles. The 3 “Ps’
- Present our common ground – after all isn’t everyone a child of God
- Propose, not impose – just like we don’t enjoy being told what to believe in, we can only propose, and let God do the rest!
- Practise our Faith –
Its okay that we ask/ w’re asked the hard questions.
And its sorta okay that we may not know many of the answers. After all, faith remains very much a mystery…
But that shouldn’t stop us searching. We are all pilgrims… searching for God
And the best way for us to Defend the faith, is really not about winning an intellectual argument, but sharing the faith with others through our actions and our deeds.