Defending the Faith?
Father Amaro Saumell

I've been looking around the Internet at all the different things concerning "Defending the Faith".  I ask myself this question: "What's there to defend?" Now that may seem a little strange.  But actually, God needs no defense. In fact, He never told us to defend our faith. His command is to spread the faith to all nations. There's a big difference.

Defending our faith would be to try to put another to a disadvantage.  What we really want to do is to give them the advantage of our joy of salvation and way of life.  When we force others into the position of having to formulate an offense for us to defend, we lose the battle.  We've stirred up their pride and resistance.  So, we may have "won the battle" without apologetic response, but they've heard nothing and we lose any chance of converting a soul.  Jesus' command to us for those who will not listen when we "share" is that we shake the dust from our sandals and walk away.  He didn't say to waste time arguing.

The best defense is the best offense.  That means that when people live horrible lives and see that Catholics are happy, confident, cooperative with each other, charitable without judgement or coercion, and simply loving of our neighbor, they eventually want the same.  When they see us peaceful and prayerful under the worst of circumstances, keeping our sanity, they'll want the same.

Those we think we must defend ourselves against are actually doing us a favor.   They criticize us and give us clues of how we can be better witnesses of the faith.  When they do this, what they're actually saying is, "We expect more from Christians."  In other words, they're saying that they are looking for the hope that they want available when they reach their final desperation. 

I, like many, have had to hear about popes through the ages who have had concubines and illegitimate children, pedophilia, etc. But I have seen more conversions when, rather than "defending the faith”, I talk about what we've learned through these experiences of individuals who did not follow the tenets of the faith.  I talk about the fact that all the Apostles betrayed Jesus in one way or the other and how I do it too, leaving me in the situation of having to deal with the truth in Confession.  I talk about how God even uses those experiences to bring me to a fuller and more human existence in His image. I have no reason to "defend the faith."

I have an opportunity to show how healing our faith is.  This is how I've been able to attract more people to R.C.I.A..  I have taken away the divide that defines itself in "us vs. them" and try to bring us all together in Christ.  It works so much better than putting people on the "them" list and placing a barrier between us.  

Actions speak so much better than words.  That's why St. Paul says in last week's second reading, "Be imitators of me."  He was not bragging.  For when we see his other writings, we see him talking about his faults, his conversion, his failings, and the successes of the Lord through his weakness.  He is totally transparent.  And that is what brings others to conversion. 

Remember, having to "defend" means that we see ourselves as having a disadvantage.  There is no disadvantage in Christ.

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