Wednesday, May 28, 2008

On Presenting the Faith

here was a time that I relished, absolutely relished, the opportunity to debate my beliefs — political, religious or otherwise. I used to describe myself as a verbal scrapper.

And, in all those arguments, I never made a single convert. Oh, I won arguments, I changed minds. But I never changed a heart.

After many years of being red in the face, I learned a valuable lesson.The Holy Spirit, not man, changes hearts.

St. Paul wrote, "Always be ready to give a defense of your faith". He didn't say, "Always be ready to beat people into spiritual and intellectual submission."

The simple rules that I've learned are few:
  1. Live your faith. As St. Paul put it, "Put on love". Even when you don't feel like it, behave like you're a Christian, like you're a Catholic. Not as a phony put on, but as an act of obedience to God. Love is a choice, not a feeling.
  2. Know your faith. Study scripture. Study the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. Study the Catechism of the Catholic Church. One excellent guide in understanding what the Church has always taught is A Commonitory, by St. Vincent of LĂ©rins.
  3. Be willing to give a defense. Notice, don't attack with your knowledge. That's not defense. Deflect heresies with the truth.

Remember the four pillars of Dominican Life
  1. Apostolate
  2. Community
  3. Contemplation
  4. Study
None of them say "Conversion by verbal sword"