You cannot win if all you do is play defense. You can have the most amazing defense but, if you do not have an offense, you’ll lose. In our Catholic Church we have been playing defense for decades without an offense, and the reality is that we’re losing. Right now, some buzz words in the Church are “maintenance” versus “mission.” For about the past 100 years, the Roman Catholic Church—particularly in the United States of America—has been in maintenance mode. Why is that? Historically, the Church actually grew, even though it was in maintenance mode. Why was that? Because there used to be a Christian culture that promoted the Church.
We had a culture that promoted family and children. After the Council of Baltimore in the United States of America, every parish in the United States of America was required to found a school within five years, and the pastor of the parish could deny a mother and father Holy Communion if they did not send their child to that Roman Catholic school at the parish. We became entrenched in becoming an institutional Church that founded hospitals and institutions, and then we just maintained them and kept them going. But that’s not mission. That’s not having offense. That’s just protecting what you’ve already created.
Now that the culture has literally collapsed—as a reminder, we live in a culture right now that says we can kill our children, anyone can get divorced at any moment they want, a boy can be a girl, a girl can be a boy. We no longer live in a Christian world. And so the Church is struggling. I want to make a proposal that it’s because we’ve forgotten how to have an offensive plan, and you don’t win with defense.
I want to look at how we should not always be on the defense, how we should be asking questions. The reality is when you are asked questions, you are backed into a corner. You’re then presented with one or two Scripture passages which seem to refute everything you’ve ever been taught to believe that is true, good, worthy, and holy. And so, oftentimes, Catholics give up.
Have you ever been asked any of these questions? My question is: why aren’t we asking the right questions? Our Protestant brothers and sisters have a very good offense. They have questions, they memorize one or two biblical passages; the Catholic then feels weak, and then leaves. My question is this: why aren’t we asking better questions? That would be our offense. So, let’s start with this. Let’s ask our own questions!
- Have you accepted Jesus Christ your personal Lord and Savior? What question should we be asking in response? Why don’t you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood? You’ll notice in these lists of questions there isn’t one about the Eucharist. Protestants know they can’t ask about the Eucharist because it is so clear in the biblical text you can’t refute it. Jesus’ teaching in John, chapter 6, and in every Last Supper narrative, is absolutely clear that we are to eat His Body and drink His Blood. So, why aren’t we out asking people and telling people how awesome the Eucharist is? Because we’ve been taught not to. We’ve been taught to defend, not to promote. But imagine how amazing it would be to talk to a Christian who loved the Lord beautifully, and to let them know that they could actually not just think of Jesus, not just have a spiritual relationship with Him, but actually enter into a personal relationship with Him—in His Body, Blood, Soul, & Divinity, that they could take within their very beings.
- Why do you worship statues? They’re images. So, the next time you walk into a good bible-believing person’s home and they have a picture of Grandma on the wall, you should just point to the photo and say “I didn’t know you practice idol worship.” Because there is no difference between someone having a picture of grandma on the wall and having a picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, or Saint Anthony of Padua, or Saint John Vianney, or Saint Cecilia, or any other saint. And, if we think that there’s a difference, then we don’t know what it is to be part of a family, because whether Grandma is dead or alive, she is part of the family. And, why do we have pictures anyways? To remind us, to inspire us, and to give us hope. So, having a statue or a picture or an image of a saint or our Lord or Our Lady, is no different than the fact that you have thousands of pictures on your phone. Now, why aren’t we asking the question: why don’t you believe that images are good? Jesus took on human flesh and we believe that the body is good.
- Next, why do you confess your sins to a priest? A great response would be: Why do you believe that you can confess your sins to God, but you don’t have to confess your sins to His Body? Now, we believe that Jesus is head and His Church is the body. But, we also believe that you can’t separate a head and a body. If you do, you have death. So we believe that you have to confess your sins to Jesus and the Church. Now, we know this from John, chapter 20, and from James, chapter 5. We have to confess our sins. This is what we do and we do so to Jesus, in and with and through the Church.
- Why do you baptize infants? What’s the question that we should be asking? Why do you not want to give the absolute best thing in the world to your children? Now, parents who are the best of parents don’t allow their children to make their own choices. If you are a good parent, you don’t allow your child to eat what they want to eat, because they’ll eat candy all the time. If you’re a good parent you don’t allow your child to set their bedtime and their wake-up time. If you’re a good parent, you teach your child to read and speak English because we live here. If you lived in France, you teach them to speak French; if you lived in Spain you teach them to speak Spanish. But, we’re here in America, so we learn English. Now, many of you could say, “Oh, how dare you impose your views of food and health and hygiene upon your child? How dare you impose your views of English upon your child? You should wait until your child is 12 or 13 and then allow them to choose what language they want to speak.” And at that point they’ll be speaking gibberish. But, why wouldn’t you, who choose everything for your child, not give them the best thing that you yourself have, which is the Faith? Why would not see that as being the best opportunity we have to share with them the greatest gift, which is eternal salvation?
- Lastly, the battle between faith and works. Now to be absolutely clear. We teach and we believe and we profess that we are saved by grace. Grace is the life of God. We are saved by God’s life. We are saved by the death of Jesus Christ on Mount Calvary and His resurrection from the tomb. But, we also believe that our faith has to be put into actions. And we should be asking people, why do you not believe that you have to act upon your faith? Why do you not believe that your faith should be put into actions? Because that’s what ultimately is being argued. That one can say that they accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior and then have no moral culpability from that day forward—once saved always saved. Would you say “Oh well, gosh, we do a lot of works. I do a lot of volunteering. I should feel guilty about the fact that I volunteer because I actually love Jesus.” No, that’s insanity. If we have faith, our faith is put into actions.
We as Catholics have been indoctrinated – we have been culturally taught that we don’t ask questions. We don’t act as missionaries and we don’t go out and engage people in conversation and dialogue. But the time has come that we need to, and these questions are not threatening. These questions are actually an invitation to something better, to something more, to something great. If we look behind every single one of these questions, we’ll find something very clear.
Now, I want to ask one more question: Who doesn’t want to be a part of this? But the reality is that the majority of Christians in America don’t know this because we aren’t sharing it, and we’re doing a bad job of asking the right questions. And we’re being asked questions and we have no answers. And many of our brothers and sisters then walk away. As a Roman Catholic, we have the fullness of the truth given to us by Jesus Christ and His Church. Let’s pray for the grace to be missionaries, to be ambassadors, and maybe to be people who ask questions. Questions that lead to eternal life.