As a Catholic evangelist/apologist, one of the most difficult tasks that I face is explaining our Faith to other Catholics. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of listening to a talk given by Fr. Jim Dever, the chaplain for La Salle University in Philadelphia, PA. He spoke of the challenges involved in teaching young Catholics about the Church. His talk was both sad and enlightening, as he revealed the way most young people view the Church. Artificial birth control, premarital sex, gay “marriage”, and staying home from Sunday Mass are viewed as being perfectly acceptable to most of the Catholic students that Fr. Jim speaks with at La Salle.
While it’s sad to hear this, it’s a reality that we must accept and it’s not just confined to today’s youth. I work with numerous Catholics who feel the same way about many of these issues. Telling them that missing Sunday Mass is a mortal sin won’t mean a thing to most of these folks. How then, do we reach them?
For one thing, Fr. Jim recommends that we listen to them. We need to hear why they believe as they do. Then we can better formulate our explanations to suit their needs. We need to be able to explain why the Catholic Church condemns premarital sex, artificial birth control and embryonic stem cell research. Gone are the days where everyone follows Church teaching because “that’s what you do”. Many of today’s Catholics want explanations and the good news is that the explanations do exist.
Once we know how these individuals feel, we can do some research and find out why the Church teaches as they do. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a great starting point for your research. We can then present logical explanations for the teachings of the Church. Sometimes people will listen and sometimes they won’t, but we can’t get discouraged. Above all, we must never compromise Church teaching in order to appease them. Remember that when reaching out to sinners, Jesus never said that “it’s ok to keep sinning”, saying instead “go and sin no more”.