Luke 15:7 (RSV): “. . . there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
Music Making Angels (c. 1628), by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]
Ever wonder why I contend with and write about radical Catholic reactionaries? Why should I bother? This is why. I received the following communication underneath one of my Patheos posts:
Dave, I want to thank you for saving my soul. I became a sedevacantist [one who denies the validity of the sitting pope] last year and after reading your syllabus of traditionalist errors I saw my error and realized, to my delight, that I was wrong.
Read the rest of his comment . . .
All of the frustration, time spent, research, headaches, hassles, innumerable insults received, criticism for writing about supposedly non-necessary things, receiving very little money for what I do (and anxiety sometimes because of that), charges that I am causing division and despising other people with different views . . . it’s all worth it to hear one report back like this. This man’s life was changed for the better. He came out of a schismatic group. Now he is a Catholic in good standing again.
For even one life to be changed like that, makes all my work worthwhile.
And this is the joy and fulfillment of apologetics. I’m thankful to God everyday that this poor sinner can have the inestimable honor of being a vessel of His to share some information that may — always by His grace — help change a life.
That makes it all well worth it. It’s my motivation for what I do: trying to help people to be happier Catholics (or Catholics, period), to understand their faith better so that they can receive more benefit from it (ultimately to be saved and to get to heaven, of course), to have confidence, leading in turn to their desire to share the Good News with others.
When you, dear reader, hear all the usual criticisms of apologetics: that it is hyper-rational and supposedly denies all the non-rational components of faith, that apologists are a bunch of know-it-alls and killjoys, obnoxious jerks, always correcting people and butting into everyone’s business, or that apologetics is a perfectly worthless endeavor, remember this. Again, this is precisely why I do what I do. Apologetics is in the final analysis, a very positive enterprise; not a negative one at all: intended to help people, not hurt them or make them feel like idiots.
People don’t like being corrected and shown that one of their opinions is incorrect; that is, unless they are open-minded enough to realize that they believe in something false and dangerous, as this man did. Then all of a sudden correction becomes a very valuable thing.
The results are in God’s hands. You can bring the horse to water but you can’t make it drink. My job is to share the theological and spiritual truth that I have, by God’s grace, attained, as a representative or ambassador of Holy Mother Church. Once I do that, my job is usually done. How folks respond is up to their free will and the Holy Spirit. Or if I am wrong in some way, I’m more than happy to be corrected by someone who knows more about that topic. I love to follow the truth. That’s what it’s all about.
Meta Description: Even influencing one soul for the better makes all the struggles and labor of apologetics worth it. Praise be to God!
Meta Keywords: doom-and-gloom, lack of faith, legalism, pessimism, Pharisaism, quasi-schismatics, radtrads, sedevacantism, SSPX, ultratraditionalism, schismatics, Vatican II, Novus Ordo, ecumenism, schism