Here’s a problem: our Catholic faith is so vast…there’s so much awesome to share, that sometimes it’s hard to know when to stop—or where to start. How do you distinguish between those times when you’re being helpful and those times when you’re being downright annoying and/or overbearing?
On the one hand, if people have questions, you want to try and be there with answers. On the other hand, sometimes we forget that ultimately what this person is seeking is a real relationship with Jesus, and without that, your answers don’t mean a whole lot, no matter how perfectly crafted or philosophically sound.
So what do you do when your friend asks you a question about the faith and you’re so excited that all you want to do is grab your Catechism and go over it paragraph by paragraph with them from beginning to end?
Short answer: I’m not entirely sure. But I have a couple of ideas…
Put yourself in your friend’s shoes. If you suddenly and reluctantly asked a question about something they were passionate about but you only think is sort of cool, would you really want them to introduce you to their entire Pokemon card collection? No. (and yeah, I just compared the Catechism to Pokemon. Lord, Have Mercy).
Take your friend’s words at face value and simply answer the question they asked and no more. If they want to go deeper, let them make the first move.
2. Pray to the Holy Spirit.
Ever done that before? The Holy Spirit we all received at Baptism and were sealed with at Confirmation is someone we can talk to. Plus, He gives out gifts. Sweet. Ask for them.
3. Recognize: it all boils down to believing in, and coming into relationship with, the Person of Jesus Christ.
Did Jesus exist? Is He really God made man? Did He really rise from the dead? If “yes” to all of the above, then feel free to point out that it means a lot.
- God is not dead. We can talk to him and grow in relationship with him.
- That same God? He set up a Church and guaranteed that it would be protected from the gates of Hell. (Matthew 16:18) Because we believe He’s God, there’s a pretty good chance that 100% of the things that Church teaches as dogma are true.
Ok, but what if your friend believes that Jesus guy most likely existed but doesn’t really buy the spiel about the Resurrection and all that jazz? Try this one on for size: Basically all of Jesus’ followers that He lived with on Earth died awful deaths at the hands of persecutors. And they all went to their deaths proclaiming to their very last breath the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I think it’s fair to assume that at least one of them would’ve cracked and dug up the body to save their life if it was all made up to make them famous (famous still counts when you’re dead, right?).
And then leave it at that. Simple. Introductory. Remember you want them to meet a Person, not just read a book.
4. Go surfing.
Or shopping. Or to a movie. Or out to lunch. Point is: don’t take your friend’s first ever question about the faith as an invitation to talk about the Church and nothing but the Church until you’re watching them get baptized at the Easter Vigil. Patience. God has a great plan for this person’s life. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it all depends on you.