I Told You So

Amy Welborn is a columnist for Our Sunday Visitor and Catholic News Service and a regular contributor to the Living Faith quarterly devotional.

“I really have to be careful how I spend my money now.”

Told you so.

“I’m trying to stay organized, but it’s really hard to keep track of everything I have to do.”

Told you so.

Besides the adjustments he’s having to make as an almost-adult suddenly put in complete charge of his own time, my son has confronted another aspect of life that’s surprised and even confused him a little.

Defending his faith.

Told you so.

It’s true. My son, a student in Catholic schools his entire life, surrounded by Catholics, and, while not resistant, never too terribly interested in the intricacies of faith either, is facing questions about being Catholic.

They’re coming from a co-worker, a devout Southern Baptist, who won’t stop asking questions. The fellow isn’t being mean or belligerent, but he is, apparently, pretty persistent, peppering my son with questions about the Pope, saints, Mass – the usual subjects.

And so now, these same questions have become a part of our telephone calls. My son asks, I explain, and he says, thoughtfully, “That’s what I thought, but I wasn’t quite sure.”

Because, you see, it’s one thing to make good grades on religion tests, and another thing completely to answer challenging questions coming from someone who’s got a lot of misconceptions about the Catholic faith. It’s one thing to sit in Mass, say your prayers, and coast along with a vague sense of dependence on and gratitude for God’s love, and another thing to be directly asked, “Are you saved?”

My son’s lucky, too. The guy who’s asking him these questions doesn’t seem to be intent on drawing my son away from his faith. Not all of us will be so lucky. There are certainly lots of groups out there, groups that target Catholic teens and young adults, not for curious questions, but for outright proselytizing.

If you don’t know your faith, you’re extremely vulnerable to that kind of witnessing. If you don’t understand why we as Catholics believe as we do and practice what we do, you’re like a fertile field, ripe for the sowing of doubts by folks who know exactly what to say to do just that.

Am I being too harsh? Nope. Ask anybody who works in Catholic campus ministry on a college campus – they’ll have lots of stories to tell about college kids coming to them, upset and confused because they’ve almost been convinced that everything they’ve believed and done as a Catholic their whole life has led them away from, not closer to God.

It may not be at the top of your priority list at the moment. But it might not be a bad idea to add deepening your understanding of your faith to the rest of your high school tasks: picking a college, getting those SAT scores up, saving for tuition, and learning how to study.

Being unprepared for any of those future challenges puts you at a disadvantage. Being unprepared to discuss your faith with conviction and intelligence puts you someplace worse – in danger.

Told you so.

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