Preparing Catholics to Defend the Church

Imagine you had a friend who had just recently read a fictional account of your own mother’s life. In this book, your mother is portrayed as a liar and ultimately a murderer. Your friend says to you, “You ought to read this book. It is a greatly entertaining story.”

The Antidote at Work

In our parish this Lent, we are having a four-week Adult Formation Series designed to give Catholics the background needed to defend our Mother against the accusations of The Da Vinci Code. We are using The Da Vinci Deception and the companion study guide available at as resources for the four week course. We are also using the Catechism and The Catholic Encyclopedia as well as the writings of the early Church Fathers to assist us in understanding the true history of Christianity. All these resources are available online for free. So far we have averaged about 35-40 people in attendance, including some high school-aged Catholics in our parish who have read the book.

Our classes and discussions are assisting all kinds of people. For example, during one of our discussions, one participant revealed that some of her Catholic friends were encouraging other Catholics to read the book and see the movie. She did not think this was a very good idea so she decided to attend our class in order to share with her friends the reasons why this book is so harmful and why people should not be encouraged to read it or see the movie. Another lady revealed that her son-in-law, who was raised Catholic but no longer practices the faith, has read the book only to have his faith weakened even further. She is attending the class in order to answer his questions about the authentic history of Christianity.

Another lady is attending the class so as to share accurate information about the history of the Church with her daughter’s boyfriend who was raised Catholic but is not currently attending church. He read the book after it was given to him as a Christmas gift this past December and has been telling others about it. This lady gave the boyfriend a copy of The Da Vinci Deception and has invited him to attend the class. She is even audio-taping the class for others who are unable to attend.

It may be that your parish uses other materials for adult formation and it is not convenient to change materials at this time. The Da Vinci Deception can be distributed to the current class as a resource for those who would like to respond more effectively to the questions raised by The Da Vinci Code. In addition, the information in The Da Vinci Deception can be used in any generic class that is focusing on Church history, the divinity of Christ, and the role of women in the Church. If you would like assistance in tailoring the information in The Da Vinci Deception to your specific adult discussion group or if you would like assistance in forming and leading such a group you can email me.

As more and more parishes educate and prepare Catholics to defend the faith, then more and more people will be able to spread the truth about His Son and our Mother, the Church and many souls will be saved.

An Attack on Our Mother

I am sure most of us would never even think of purchasing and reading such a book. But what if your friend then went on to say that he thought this fictional account probably had some basis in fact. That the mother he heard you speak about was in reality the evil character portrayed in the book. You would find that alarming and want to take the action necessary to protect your mother’s good name so that individuals who read the book would not believe the false portrait that this novel painted of your mother.

Well, for us Catholics it is right to say that our Mother, the Church, has been accused of 2000 years of lying, as well as committing murder, in Dan Brown’s book The Da Vinci Code. There are millions of people unfamiliar with the history of the Catholic Church who have read this novel and many will believe in some way the portrait that Mr. Brown paints of our Mother. These individuals will ask questions and we need to be prepared to give them the true answers that they are seeking.

St. Peter tells Christians: “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pt 3:15). In order to help us to make a defense, Ascension Press and Catholic Exchange have written an excellent book entitled The Da Vinci Deception, which examines the accusations Mr. Brown makes against Christianity and the Church. It does not take a person with a Ph.D. in theology to understand the truth about the Catholic Church, and neither does it take a professional motivational speaker to make an effective defense of our Mother. What it takes is a profound love for God, the Church, and the truth — coupled with preparation and prayer.

In a previous article I detailed the ways in which someone can start and lead an adult formation class. If your parish does not currently have an adult formation group, you can easily start one. I recommend asking your pastor to assist you in deciding the best time and place for the group to meet. In our parish, the best time for us to meet turned out to be the hour between our two Sunday Masses. Also, work closely with your church secretary and pastor in advertising the class and meeting times. Our class was advertised in the bulletins of all the Catholic churches in our county and on our local Catholic radio station as well.

If you do not want to begin a long-term project of leading an adult formation class, then what about committing just four weeks to lead a discussion group to fortify your parish against the lies of The Da Vinci Code? Everything you need to advertise, plan and run a four-week discussion class on the The Da Vinci Deception is available for free download from

Remember that if the parish cannot provide a place for your discussion group, there is nothing wrong with holding it in your home. It is also not necessary that these discussion groups happen on Sunday. You could have a discussion group on The Da Vinci Code during the week.

If you are involved with youth ministry — even if you just have a teen — check for material especially designed for youths and even for college-age participants.

Our priests are extremely busy and many cannot lead a discussion like this due to time constraints. If your priest cannot lead the class, any layperson can facilitate the discussion group. The study guides available through make leading the class easy to do — even for someone who has never led a group.

The Warfare of Love

St. Paul reminds us, “For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor 10:3, 4).

Our warfare is not about hate but about love; that is, sharing the love of Christ and His Church with others including those who might believe in the accusations Mr. Brown has made against our Mother. We prepare through our classes on The Da Vinci Code to make a response to these accusations in love and charitable words. We allow the Holy Spirit to use our words and actions to plant seeds of truth in the hearts of others. Our words and actions will, by the grace of God, destroy these false arguments against our Mother that are endangering the souls of our friends and family.

You might think that you could never make a reasoned defense of the faith that was so effective that it would make a difference in someone’s life. Or you may think you are not equipped to lead a discussion group to assist others in learning more about their faith. If you feel this way, always remember what Mother Angelica of EWTN says: “God is calling us to be great saints — don’t miss the opportunity.”

It has been the experience of many Catholics that God does not call the equipped; instead, he equips the called. So let’s follow Mother Angelica’s advice and not miss this opportunity to become saints. Our fellow Catholics at Catholic Exchange and Ascension Press have put in a great deal of effort to see to it that we have the materials necessary to put up a defense of the Church. Now it is time for us to act, continuing the conversion of ourselves and others to deeper levels of love and devotion to Christ and our Holy Mother, His Church.

© Copyright 2006 Catholic Exchange

Jeffery M. Schwehm is a former member of the Jehovah's Witnesses' Headquarters Staff in Brooklyn, New York and a former Lutheran. He is an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at Lakeland College in Sheboygan, WI and a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Kohler, WI. He is also the President of The Fellowship of Catholic Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses (, a Catholic apostolate to assist Jehovah’s Witnesses into the Catholic Church.

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