Often it is the converts to Catholicism that make the best Catholic apologists. Most “cradle” Catholics’ religious education consists of elementary instruction and ends at the sacrament of Confirmation. Adult converts have the good fortune to learn the “grownup” version of Catholicism, and have more opportunity to delve into the rich theology and rationale for the many tenets of our faith and our sacred traditions. A convert is much more likely to know the answer to why Catholics do certain things, because they wondered the same thing, and could get answers during the RCIA process.
According to Kevin Orlin Johnson, PhD and author of Why Do Catholics Do That?, “In America today, a lot of people seem to be kept away from the Church on the basis of externals alone; much of the Church’s liturgy – the Church’s public ceremonial acts of worship – her art and her practices must appear uncomfortably foreign to them. But if you talk with them about religion, sometimes you’d think that they wouldn’t disagree on any basic tenet of the Faith at all.”
The fundamentals of Church teaching are summarized in the Nicene Creed, which was produced from the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. The Emperor Constantine, a convert, called the Council. He wanted to settle the feuds erupting throughout the empire over the many heresies that were cropping up, most importantly the Arian Heresy, which postulated that while Jesus Christ was the Son of God, he was not eternal and therefore subordinate to God the Father. The Nicene Creed expresses the fundamentals of Christian belief and is recited at every Mass.
For Catholics who were raised in the Church, our traditions and customs seen through adult eyes may require some upgrades to our faith formation. Many parishes offer courses for returning Catholics, and retreats such as Cursillo offer an excellent refresher on the basics of Catholic teaching practice. Catholic apologetics is exploding with books, videos, e-mail subscriptions and podcasts that are easy to understand and theologically sound. Publishers such as Ignatius Press, Sophia Institute Press, Loyola Press and many others offer material on every aspect of Catholic teaching. Finally, radio and cable television have a growing number of stations that focus on Catholic living from a variety of perspectives, including Relevant Radio which is broadcast to the Los Angeles market from studios at Christ Cathedral on AM 930.
It is worth taking the time to take a fresh look at your Church. Especially if you have questions or feel confused or even irritated by some aspect of Church teaching or tradition. As Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, one of the greatest Catholic apologists of our time, said, “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”
The Catholic Church is the only Christian church that is 2,000 years old. It was founded by Jesus to be your support and guide through life until you are reunited with him in heaven. It’s worth taking a deeper look.
Full story at OC Catholic.