January 17, 2011

Praying for Apologists

Yesterday afternoon I found myself inspired to pray for folks in the ministry of apologetics. It's a challenging and somewhat thankless ministry sometimes, and I'm grateful for those God has called and graced to do it, whether here in the Catholic blogging world or in any other way. I realize that what I do here isn't really apologetic in the sense that it presumes a lot, and is mostly for insiders or at least those who are interested in the Lord, the Catholic faith, or the Franciscan or Capuchin life.

I was led into this prayer because I had an encounter, as I do from time to time, that reminded me how hard it is to communicate Catholic teaching in our society and culture. The faith and the world are at odds at the most basic level of teachings and assumptions, those concerning the nature of the human person, the meaning of the world existing at all, and of being alive in it. Therefore, one can preach or describe that Church's teaching on topics like vocation, marriage, death and treatment of the dead, or even social questions like work and the nature of rights and the state, and get nowhere because these depend on more fundamental truths and assumptions about the human person and the world which are not in place in the conversation.

I don't feel like there is much mechanism in the Church to preach and teach such things either. When was the last time you heard a Sunday homily on the nature of the human person, the final destiny of the dead, or the beauty and meaning of sexuality in the created order? So it's no wonder that the Church's teaching on something like marriage doesn't make sense to people--even Catholics--because we have not taught them the fundamental truths that ground these teachings. The world, on the other hand, is constantly teaching its impoverished and erroneous version of these things through television and popular culture and everything else.

So I pray in thanksgiving to God for those who have taken up this challenging ministry, and ask Him to continue to grace them with wisdom and perseverance. Amen.


Lisa Graas said...

Thank you for this, Father.

Stuart said...

Yes thank you indeed.

Lee Gilbert said...

"The world, on the other hand, is constantly teaching its impoverished and erroneous version of these things through television and popular culture and everything else."

That's right, so ala James Dobson of Focus on the Family, let me role play with you for a moment.

Our [fictional, we're role playing here] family of five children, two of them adolescents, live near a college campus and provide room board to a very interesting and personable young man. He has an incredible fund of funny stories and magic tricks. He's good looking, very athletic, plays the guitar, and my two teenagers worship the ground he walks on.

But here's the thing, whenever he is entertaining us or interacting with us, there is ALWAYS something that's a little off, just a little. Perhaps it's a little laugh at the expense of the Church, a story that's slightly off color, or thinly veiled amusement at our going off to Church on Sunday morning. It is dramatically affecting my family. Only since he arrived have my children started asking me why we have to go to Mass on Sunday. How can I harness his incredibly winsome personality to bring the message of Christ and His Church to my family? What should I do? I am at a total loss.

Any Catholic father saying that over a beer at the Knights of Columbus would have everyone looking at him in complete disbelief. Somebody would say, "What, are you kidding me? Throw the bastard out!"

Now, this is what I don't get, the complete lack of animosity from the pulpit against TV and the other media. Switching metaphors, if the media is coming like a jaguar for our souls and the souls of our children, it seems tactically mistaken to deal with each paw, separately, and argue against abortion, homosexuality, fornication, heresy, etc., etc, rather than go for the throat and kill the whole animal. Of course, we have to answer those arguments, but why not go for the throat, and have the word go out from the pulpit insistently, "Kill your TV."

There are several secular organizations behind such a move for secular reasons, White Dot among them, but we who have eternal motives say virtually nothing. Would it be "too extreme" or what? The media, certainly, have no fear of going to extremes and they are absolutely killing us.

Sara said...


I have four non fictional kids, two adolescents, and I wouldn't throw the guy out. I might start bringing some apologists home... :)

That being said, I agree with you about the TV. I've been trying to kill the TV for years but my husband is only starting to come around.

Greg said...

Excellent thoughts, Brother Charles.

Recently I've had reason to reflect on apologetics as well.

Most apologetics, however, seem to descend into argument that does not win hearts. Fun for people who love debate and scoring points, not too helpful for those of us that look to the heart for direction.

I wonder if there is not a different way to address these topics. There is a need and a hunger for increased catechesis that could perhaps be met by new media projects. Father Barron's work is excellent but I wonder if there should not be a Franciscan effort.

In the same way the Francis went out to meet people and pray and preach and touch their hearts, maybe we could do the same with media.