EWTN’s Search and Rescue program is very informative. Following it whenever it is possible has given me some insight into a spirituality that I never knew was present in Catholic Apologetics. Patrick Madrid of EWTN is the host of the show and one who knows what he is talking about.

This afternoon, he explained three methods for confronting door-to-door evangelists — the kind that actually would draw one away from the Catholic Church. The three methods are:

  • Paul’s Areopagus Method — seek a common ground; listen to what the other one is saying and try to find anything on which you can agree on
  • Redirect Method — since the other comes to you with a canned presentation, redirect the topic to something that you are prepared to handle. This method also puts the other one outside of his prepared talk. (I like this method, actually. This way, you can be in the “attack mode.”)
  • Socratic Method — question the other one. If well done, it could disarm him/her and make him/her look at his/her own beliefs in another light. The questions, however, should be like a “wasps’ sting” as the question was in Socrates’s handling of it. Accurate, precise and to the point. The purpose is that the other one be led to the truth (or to grasp the lies to which he or she has been immersed)

The above methods however should be “wrapped” in an attitude that is basically evangelical. Apologetics after all should not become an occassion where “I” put down the other, or make him/her small. Patrick Madrid insisted that confrontations with an unbeliever should become an occassion for witnessing to the faith: to talk to the other about what the Lord is doing in one’s life. Now this is new precisely because apologetics has always been presented as an occassion for demonstrating the perfect rationality of one’s beliefs. In other words, something of the mind, not of the heart. Patrick Madrid, I think, and those from whom he learned his approach, is emphasizing something that really belonged to the spirit of apologetics (see for example the early apologists) but was forgotten for a time.
Lastly, he emphasized prayer. Prayer should touch on three points: (a) the method to be used; (b) the conversion of the “other”; and (c) the transformation of the one praying to someone who does the will of the Father. After all, apologetics should always be geared towards conversion, whether it be the other’s conversion or one’s own conversion to a firmer and fuller immersion in the mysteries of the faith.
I think that with these elements, one can now even think about a “Spirituality of Apologetics.”

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