by: Colin Priest (Loras College Knight)
We’ve heard a few stories recently of people attacking the Church and our beliefs as Catholics. Some dismiss our faith as a mere illusion or wishful thinking. Others might see us as fanatics unwilling, or unable, to discuss matters in a calm, intellectual manner. Still others see us as devoid of reason altogether. In the midst of all these challenges, name-callings and back-biting we must ask ourselves how we might respond to such assaults. Perhaps we even run to the somewhat overused and perhaps even cliché adage, “What would Jesus do?”
From my perspective and experience, I can tell you that it’s very easy to get caught up in making defensive arguments and refuting the line of reasoning of the one challenging our Faith. However, I’ve noticed time and again that no matter how logical my argument seems, when I respond with aggression and spite I immediately lose any chance of really opening the heart of the person who doesn’t believe in my faith. Here I am talking about an infinite and all-loving God while I’m yelling at the person I’m trying to teach about love. It’s completely ineffective every time.
Now I’m not saying that we should stop defending for our faith. On the contrary, I believe we should never stop preaching the Gospel ever. But I think that when we are challenged by people who do not believe what we believe we should be careful with our response and follow the example of the saints and the apostles, even Jesus Himself. Remember that our Lord dealt with this exact same thing we are dealing with today; indifference to His word and lack of understanding. In fact, they crucified our Lord for what He taught because they didn’t want to accept what He offered them. Should we be any more surprised when people hate us today? But we should not give up just because someone doesn’t like what we’re saying. We preach and we pray hoping that their hearts will be converted and that one day they will come to love God and accept what He offers (grab your Bible and read
1 Peter 3:15).
Our prayer for this person should never be haughty or puffed up, coming from some kind of superior viewpoint, though. It is in the moments of persecution that we ought to call to mind our own sinfulness and the real fact that we ourselves do not live up to Christ’s call to love. When we pray for another, we ought to offer a prayer for ourselves that Christ may live in our actions and love through us. Then people will start to be converted. So if you know of anyone who really needs to be prayed for, offer up a prayer of love for them and for yourselves. Here’s a prayer from St. Francis of Assisi that just about sums it up:
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light. O’ Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”