The third instalment of the Know Your Faith series started Monday, June 7 on the topic ‘Apologetics’. Fr Robert Christo, Parish Priest St Dominic’s Penal, and Vicar for Communications in the Archdiocese, was the featured speaker dealing with ‘Understanding Apologetics/Do Catholics Worship Statues’.
The first instalment of the education series hosted by Catholic Religious Education Development Institute (CREDI) was In January, ‘A Walk with Mark’, next was ‘Come Holy Spirit’ in April-May. Moderator for the talks is Director of the CREDI) Dr Maria Byron. Know Your Faith is streamed live on CREDI’s Facebook page 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and a delayed broadcast on Trinity TV at 8 p.m.
Fr Christo referenced Jesus’ call on Ascension Sunday [May 16] Matt 28:19: “Go make disciples to the ends of the earth” saying the key word was “go”. He explained, “…to be a missionary, we are called to explain in a gentle and reverant way”. He added that mission was not just for priests, religious and consecrated persons but all. The Church did not have a mission: the mission had a Church”.
According to Vatican II decree on apostolate and laity #6, “…. Exhorts laymen each according to natural gifts and learning to be more diligent in doing their part to explain and defend Christian principles.” Fr Christo underscored an internal and external growth occurs in knowing how to explain and defend the faith. The early Christians practiced apologetics when they joyfully recognised the Messiah, penitently repented for sin, lovingly served the poor and courageously preached and taught. The work of apologetics can be summed up in 1 Peter 3:15, “…always be ready to make a defense to anyone who call on you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” Fr Christo listed the purpose of apologetics: pursue truth, provide honest/logical explanation, dispel dishonesty/false doctrines, strengthen faith (internal and external), provide took/formation and opportunity for accompaniment.
He explained what apologetics “is not”. “It is not to win and argument, it is not to ‘get them’…Catholic theology has always been, we don’t impose, we propose. It is charitable, it is gentle, it is reverence, it is not self-promotion”.
Later on, while talking about the 15 “secret pointers” for apologetics he said “argument and heat” will not accomplish anything but, warmth gentleness, reverence, adds light. “Start with a charitable stance if you want to win people over and explain”.
Apologetics is integrative—it is consistent with how people live…in harmony with mind/body/will, emotion, in pursuit of personal holiness. Fr Christo stated that apologetics and evangelisation are mutually inclusive. “You can’t offer what you don’t have, you can’t share what you don’t know, you can’t show what you have not experienced and you can’t live what has not been integrated”.
Apart from being able to defend the faith Fr Christo highlighted that one’s life can be a testimony to faith. “The only Bible people will read and the only one they will witness to is the Bible of our lives so we can defend as much as we can but sometimes people are moved and converted in the accompaniment.”
Fr Christo suggested that viewers approach apologetics as a self-study course; they could revisit the topic at Catholic TT on YouTube, do research online and go at their own pace. “The aim and objective is not to learn everything and be overwhelmed by all the scripture, the aim is to expose an awareness that the truth exists, the answers are there and it is already endorsed by the Church, sacred tradition and scripture”. Other topics to be covered by Fr Christo in the next sessions June 14, June 21 and June 28 are: why intercessory prayer, why confess to a human being and the Eucharist.