How many books on apologetics are there? How many do you own? How many say the same thing? Sola Scriptura this, Sola Fide that, Mary this, Eucharist that.
We can hammer our opponents with great arguments but that’s not all a Protestant is searching for. They have questions, but their answers aren’t all found in dogma and apologetics. There is one way to stop a Protestant dead in their tracks, but it takes some skill and development.
If you really want to convert your friends and family, if you really want to being people “back to Rome,” you have to walk the life of a Christian, not just a scholar. You must be imbued with virtue, morality, and the piety of a Christian.
Without these, nobody will listen to you. Would you take advice from a poor man on how to become rich, or an addict on how freedom works, or a bus driver on how to fly a plane? Such reasoning would be ridiculous.
Our Christian witness is really the meat and bone of what we have to offer the world. We can soak up all the knowledge of the dogmas, present the teachings of the Magisterium perfectly, but if we have no Christian virtue, our witness is worthless. Here’s a basic formula for this virtue:
– Charity. Charity is giving freely to those in need. Charity takes form in our service to others when we help them up steps, help clean their spilled coffee, or pay a parking meter. Charity is most importantly given when we speak about the Church to others. There are a lot of amateur apologists in the Church and on the internet who project an arrogant, at times hostile, or polemic tone in their words. This only drives people away. Communicate the Gospel and the teachings of the Church to your Protestant friend as it was communicated to you – with clarity, patience and understanding.
– Love. When we love the world, we seek the goodwill of the world, what is best for others, and forget about our needs. “They will know you are my disciples,” Jesus said, “by your love.” If you don’t love, you’re not a Christian, plain and simple, because you’re not really following the teachings of Christ in the first place.
Paul makes this exceedingly clear to the Corinthians:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Cor. 13:2-4
The Moral life is also necessary for leading others to Christ. Here’s how:
– Stop sinning. Easier said than done? Impossible? No, not impossible. The fight against sin is a present reality, not a future one. Too much we think of sin as it will come, not as it is. To really defeat our sin, we must engage this enemy of our soul. Each day, each moment, make a concerted effort to keep the Lord near you in prayer, fill your days with activity, and become more aware of what triggers your sin. Then, pray and avoid those triggers. Study your sin, because I guarantee you that Satan is doing the same..
Here’s how to be more pious:
– Sacrifice. Nobody gave more than God, who became man in Christ, and let His own people crucify Him. The God who chose death gives us life in this ultimate sacrifice. Many of us will not have to give our lives for Christ, but while living, we can give up our daily lives as sacrifices. This can take shape in the
– Cut the fat. The fat is the extra weight we carry with us day-to-day. This could be office gossip, withheld anger at a spouse or in-law, or even the ability to let others speak and be heard rather than thinking up the next stalwart reply. These are the little things that build up over time, things that make us less trustworthy and deteriorate our witnesses.
Like I said, without these, nobody is going to listen to you. Who would? Who would want to take advice on being a good Catholic, enjoying the fullness of truth, if the fullness of Christ isn’t hardly present in your life. If you don’t develop these attributes, your message will be rejected before you ever deliver it.
EDIT: I am a little embarassed that some did not like the title. The last thing I was going for was a polemical piece, given the content in the post. I hope you understand I was just trying to say that a good Christian life full of virue, coming from a Catholic, can be the last thing a Protestant would expect to see. Forgive me if the piece came off wrong with a misleading title.