My First Apologetics Moment


#1

“Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you”–1 Peter 3:15

Greetings Mighty Catholic Apologists!

Recently, for the first time in my life, I was called to fulfill St. Peter’s words above to stand ready to give an account of the faith when questioned–and I’m so excited I just want to tell everybody about it! Well, at least anybody who’s interested in listening, so I figured I’d join the Forum and post my story. I’m hoping that other people can comment on how I did and also will post their first apologetics moment on this thread as well.

Before I begin with my first apologetics moment let me just give you a very brief background about myself. I was born and baptized Catholic into a very normal Italian Catholic family. I went to Catholic elementary and high schools. I received my first communion, first reconciliation, and confirmation. In spite of all this, I was still pretty much your average nominal Catholic who knew nothing about his faith. I don’t remember when it was that we stopped going to Church, but it was a long time ago. We kept going at Christmas time for a while, but then even that stopped. My knowledge of the doctrines of the faith was virtually nonexistent. I wouldn’t have been able to explain the Trinity, the Immaculate Conception, the sacrificial nature of the mass, the Eucharist, or any other fundamental belief of the faith. Then I went to University and I don’t think I ever thought about my faith even once while I was there. Not even for a moment. Then a couple of years ago, about the time I graduated, I started to ever so slowly come back to the church. I won’t get into why or how it was that I started to relapse into Catholicism, that’s a post for another thread, but during the past two years I have been studying a lot of Theology, reading lots of Catholic books, listening to Catholic Answers Radio, and watching EWTN. Unbelievably, I also actually started to read some of the Bible :thumbsup:. So here I am today. I’m not completely all the way back yet, but it is an inevitibility now. A few weeks ago I started to go back to mass, and I am now about to prepare a general confession of my life (which I’m estimating will be about twenty pages long!).

So now to my first apologetics moment.

The other day at work (new job) one of my coworkers, I’ll call him Ravi, noticed this picture that I keep in my briefcase. That I even have that picture in my briefcase is kind of an accident. I just wanted to try out some free samples of super glossy photo paper that I got with my inkjet printer one day, to see how the printer performed. I just did some surfing on the web, downloaded a photo and hit print. The print turned out so nice that I kept it. Then when I got my new briefcase I decided it needed some decoration, so now I carry around the image of the Holy Father with me to the office.


#2

So anyways, Ravi, whom I didn’t even know yet because I’m new here, noticed the picture in my briefcase and asked, ‘Who is that? Is that something to do with Christiany?’ (I’m paraphrasing here). Ravi, it turns out, is an immigrant from India in his forties or fifties who happens to be a more or less nominal Hindu. Of course, I didn’t know this yet and I had him confused with another coworker, so I thought he was actually Mohammed from Pakistan. I was shocked that a Muslim wouldn’t know who the Pope was, so I responded, ‘Don’t you know who he is? He is Pope John Paul II, the leader of the Catholic Church. Is your name Mohammed? Are you a Muslim?’. Then I introduced myself. Well, laughing that I would make this silly mistake, he quickly corrected me and told me that he was Ravi, that I was confusing him with another person, and that he was most definitely NOT a muslim (it turns out that Ravi has a very low estimation of the Religion of PeaceÈ).

After making our introductions I proceeded to answer his question. I could see that he recognized the image as being that of some famous and important Christian figure, and that what he was really asking was what the Pope did and what his role in Christianity was. So I explained that this was Pope John Paul II, that he was the leader of the Catholic Church and that he is the latest in a long line of successors of Peter who was a follower of Jesus Christ and who was chosen to be the leader of the Christians after Jesus died. I explained that he has his headquarters in Rome, Italy because that was where Peter was killed by the Emperor Nero of the Roman Empire. Ravi then mentioned that he wished to learn more about what Christianity was about, because “there are many Christians in India” and “they are very nice people and are always helping others” (looks like Mother Teresa helped me out a bit here :)). I tried to respond humbly that some of the better Christians were like that but not everyone lives up to those standards. I then mentioned that there have been Christians in India since the first century when the Apostle Thomas, a disciple of Jesus Christ, visited the Kerala region of India and evangelized the people there. He seemed to be vaguely aware of this and mentioned that many people from that state are named Thomas.

He then asked me about Jesus Christ and asked me a little about who he was. I started by saying that he was a Jew (he was shocked by this) who lived in first century Palestine which was then under Roman occupation. I explained that we Christians believe that he was the Messiah or Saviour whom the Jews were waiting for and I was about to get into the Incarnation when he interrupted me with another question. He mentioned that back in the day when he was in school they studied Christianity a little and read a little bit of the Bible. He described how they very briefly studied the “Law of Moses” and also the “Law of Jesus Christ” and mentioned how his teachers and classmates were baffled at how Christians could reconcile these two radically different and contradictory moral systems. He seemed really excited about this chance to ask a real Christian how it was that we reconciled these two things.


#3

So he asked the big question, and I got a tingly feeling all up and down my spine at the thought of having to answer this! I was in way over my head. I was about to tell him that I was not knowledgeable enough to answer this question satisfactorily. But then, I guess the Holy Spirit kicked in :slight_smile: and I proceeded to give an account of all of Revelation History from Creation through the Fall, through the Prophets, to the Redemption! :smiley:

I began with the Creation of Man, explained the Fall and explained the concept of progressive revelation as best as I could remember it from all the Scott Hahn essays that I had read online! I described, a la Scott Hahn, how God decided to lift us up from the Fall by lifting us up out of the muck a little bit at a time, with each new covenant that he made. I explained how the Covenants made with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David etc. were all intended to bring a greater and greater number of people to a greater and greater knowledge of Him to prepare us for the final, perfect Covenant, when God himself would come to reveal himself to us in person and lift us out of the muck of Original Sin.

I then moved on to try and describe our concept of God as a Trinity as best as I could remember from the Frank Sheed book I had read. He seemed absolutely fascinated by this.

I was about to begin talking about our Marian beliefs when he mentioned he really had to go. I looked down at my watch and realized that I HAD TALKED FOR OVER TWO HOURS WITHOUT REALIZING IT! I felt really embarrassed, but he assured me that he thoroughly enjoyed my lecture about Christianity and wanted to hear more about it another time.

So how do you think I did? Any constructive criticism greatly appreciated.

My sincere apologies for this post being ridiculously long. Many thanks to anyone who read the whole thing.

It is my hope that others will post their “first apologetics moment” on this thread too. I’d love to read about them! :slight_smile:


#4

I thought it was very good. It seems like your coworker really was interested and that is what matters.

I can’t say I have ever had a apologetics moment like that. When I talk about religion it is usually with cousins who are anti-Catholic or with my family. I also talk with some Orthodox sometimes.


#5

Well done, good and faithful servant. And by the way, welcome back!

I’d have to say that my first apologetics moment was not as successful. I remember being attacked and really not having an answer for the mis-conceptions about our faith. With the grace of God I was able to take this opportunity to learn about my faith. I haven’t stopped reading yet. Books and audio from Scott Hahn, Frank Sheed, and last but not least Archbiship Fulton J. Sheen have helped me tremendously.

God Bless…


#6

In college, I was involved with Campus Outreach (CO). Officially a Presbyterian (PCA) ministry, but they’d also get in with “Reformed Baptist” churches if there was no good Presbyterian church in the college town.

Being involved there got me and some friends in with international students. We hung out with them, studied class things, played sports, whatever with them. And shared the Gospel with them. Now, I’m not Catholic, but I hope nobody is going to jump on me for that on this thread. They’re questions were often very different from average American non-believer’s questions.

Like, some would ask about fate, reincarnation, karma, things like that. It really pushed us to learn about all those odd philosophical things, and directed towards the Lordship of King Jesus. They’d receive it differently, like, kind of. Because they think so differently than we do.

Sounds like you did your job as an apologist. Hopefully you and this guy will continue to discuss things and be friends.

BTW, I clicked on the link to the picture. Great painting!


#7

[quote=Reformed Rob]BTW, I clicked on the link to the picture. Great painting!
[/quote]

I know, isn’t it great! I think I might order a print.


#8

Your story made my evening. I’m blown away by you and the Holy Spirit. You make a great team. Cuddos and yes, welcome home!

My first experience of sharing the faith started with what I think was “an annointing”. I was very shy and someone asked a question in a group setting and I just remember my heart started to pound and felt as though it was going to pop out of my chest. It seemed loud enough for everyone to hear. That was accompanied by a persistant interior urge to speak up which I finally did. The response I gave was amazingly effective and I just wanted to tell everyone it wasn’t me.


#9

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