Sympathy for Cradle Catholics Who Can’t Explain or Defend the Faith

by Steve Ray on July 5, 2019

I thought of a helpful illustration to explain why “cradle Catholics” are often unable to explain and defend the Catholic faith. The example has its weaknesses, but it does help get the point across.

As an American I asked myself this question: if some one trained to attack America intellectually approached me on the street and challenged my country, would I be ready and able to defend the USA? Would I know all the historical details, dates, and facts? Do I know the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Supreme Court rulings or even the ancient documents that preceded the birth of our nation—the documents and events that formed the foundation for our government?

The answer is simple: “No, I would not be prepared.”

But I am an American. I love my country. I was born here and believe in the principles and love the freedom that are American. I know my country has many problems and I do not love everything that is American. But I would be unprepared to explain and defend the details and documents of my nation even though I love the USA and would readily stay an American citizen rather than join another country.

This is much the same as a “cradle Catholic” like those in the Philippines. They are often ashamed that they cannot defend the faith, but they are like me as an American. I was born American and never been in a situation where I had to defend my country in a rigorous intellectual debate. Filipinos have been Catholics for 400 years. They love their faith, the Lord Jesus, Mama Mary and the Catholic Church. But for 400 years they have been a Catholic nation and never needed to “defend” it. They only needed to love it and obey it.

But now the wolves are approaching their islands and making great inroads devouring the flock. The attack comes not only from cults and sects, but also from modernism and Americanism. They are pursued from every side. They are pushed to leave the Church, to join the cults and sects or to pursue pleasure, money, and sin.

Just like I would I need to take the time and energy to study my country and its history, so they are now required to learn their faith in a new and energetic way to defend the faith and their children. The time for comfort is over. The time to study and learn is here. No longer can the Filipinos—or anyone who has been born and raised Catholic—sit back and take the faith for granted. It is time for war! It is time for defense! It is time to get to work!

I do not criticize “cradle Catholics” for not knowing their faith. I understand the situation. But now we must begin rigorous study and learning—our children and our faith are at stake. We have no time to to waste. We are called to re-evangelize and defend Mother Church! God bless us all as we serve Our Lord.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary Crisologo April 7, 2016 at 6:43 AM

Great insights Steve. Thank you for your sympathy to us Filipino Catholics. I learned a lot from you defending the faith. God bless and more power.

Morrie Chamberlain April 7, 2016 at 9:44 AM

That is a good analogy.

Doreen Carter April 8, 2016 at 5:51 PM

I dated a Baptist the knew almost every significant date in the history of our church. We spoke ?ith one of our priest and he said, to bad Catholic lack this ability. Either way, it made me want to read.

Doreen Carter April 8, 2016 at 6:36 PM

Errors noted he knew…. with (?ith)….Catholics…my apology. Did not see more or edit. In Christ, thank you.

Bari November 17, 2017 at 12:09 AM

Great Steve…i appreciate you for taking the initiative of assisting people in understanding the catholic faith..i could see that you’re a person with great responsibility through your great deeds…i myself too learned alot from your talks and your books too..your every talk is interesting n brings happiness to me coz they inspires me to study more deeper about the catholic faith..im a catholic 5 years now n for 25 years i had attended bible classes regularly n services in Presbyterian church..n now im a proud catholic! Welcome home brother!!! You’re extraordinary..God bless you,your Good wife n your family!!!

Ron July 5, 2019 at 7:23 AM

i was not able to defend myself until 6 years ago. I went to a Catholic school for 14 years, but learn nothing, and attend Mass all my life. Youtube and Lighthouse CDs that teach me on how to defend myself. I can even edify priests who are very clueless. I live listening to your CDs Ray!!!

Dave July 5, 2019 at 9:57 AM

Excellent article. My wife is from the Philippines and when we got married in 1978, the Philippines was about 98% Catholic. Reports now say that is down to about 85%. I have witnessed in my wife’s family there, too many of them “embracing” Protestantism because they do not grasp or understand their Catholic faith. The Philippines suffers from the same dilemma that I see here in the US. Poor catechesis.

Dominic Price July 5, 2019 at 8:22 PM

Great Steve! I love it, tell me the next step.

Leslie July 6, 2019 at 9:14 AM

Maybe we ought to suggest that Catholics carry preprinted cards, so that when someone starts in with "Well, what about…?" "The Bible says this, why does the Catholic Church disagree?", the Catholic should hand him the card that says "I don't know what the answer is, but I know there is an answer. Write down your questions and I will get back to you when I've had time to gather the information you want. After all, 'Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him' (Proverbs 29:20)."

STEVE RAY HERE: Excellent idea actually. Thanks for sharing!

Jae Lindemann July 6, 2019 at 9:45 AM

I find myself having to defend the Catholic Church to fellow Catholics many who are cradle Catholics on issues such as abortion, priestly celibacy, Real Presence… basic teachings. I find many Catholics are not interested in studying our Faith. Only last week, I heard a gent ask why we need to study the Bible. I’ve been involved in discussions with Catholics from birth who maintain they don’t need to go to confession because they confess to God. At times it gets very gloomy. So, how has this state of affairs happened? Whose fault is it? I will walk out of any group where the moderator states Mary had children after the birth of Jesus then defends the statement by saying the pastor told her. Universally many folks I talk with have not heard of EWTN. You can actually see their eyes glaze over when you begin to explain.

Leslie July 6, 2019 at 5:52 PM

That card I mentioned should perhaps have the URL’s of some Catholic apologetics websites like Catholic Answers, the Coming Home Network – lots of them. Even maybe one or more of those box things that are like barcodes and if they’re scanned on a phone a website opens (not on my dinosaur of a phone, I must admit). Because maybe the recipients of the cards would be curious enough to visit some of the sites and do some reading.

LCMel July 8, 2019 at 9:41 PM

Hi Steve, First, Thank you for the sympathy for us Cradle Catholics, especially Filipinos. You're right on your observations there (about the ones approaching the islands and making great inroads, etc). Next, I hope it's ok to share this with you, you can either approve or delete all of this. I have lived in Philippines for 20 years. And I love my Catholic Faith! When I was in first year college, I remember we have "Purok" stations in our small town. It's like a gazebo but made of bamboos and nipa roof. It's a small public place where purok members meet and discuss events and things.

The ones I attended in those times were gospel reading time. There was a poor, old man who reads the scriptures and tries to teach it the best that he can. I noticed after he read, he flips to another page, back and forth, like from the new to the old testaments, vice versa. He was like connecting people, places, and events. Other people think he was just a crazy old man but to me, I'm impressed on the way he reads and teach the gospel. I never heard it explained like that in my private Catholic school (elementary and high school).

After I graduated college, I got married and my husband brought me here to America. Three months after I arrived, my husband signed us up for an Applied Biblical Studies conference at FUS. It was not his first time but it was my first time. There, I watched and listened to Scott Hahn live and many other speakers and I remember they mentioned a bible reading tool called "Typology". I said to myself in my head "Oh my gosh! That's like how the old man in our Purok, teach the Bible. He was not a crazy man after all!" Approximately five years, the old man died. I don't know if they still have a Catholic Bible reader/teacher after he died.

I remember visiting back after five years and they still have those Purok stations but I just assumed that they still have that kind of session in the town. Lately, they seem to lost the chain of Bible reading, according to my observations with my relatives and friends online. I also wonder if they still teach to Purok leaders (especially Catholics) that kind of technique (like that of what the old man learned). If only tool is still passed on from Catholic to Catholic, generation to generation.

Finally, my family and I really enjoyed watching your Footprints of God series. We have 2 vhs and 4 dvd copies! Thank you for everything that you and your wife do and all the people in your team! Your documentary works added lively 3D picture whenever we read the Bible or encounter Bible characters, places, events, and etc! You're all a blessing! Deo gratias! From all of us here in PA, USA.

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