MAKATI City, April 8, 2015 –- Revealing what seems to be the secret of the great apostles like St. Paul, a bishop reminded apologists that only truth spoken in love can bring about conversions.
“When you speak, truth, truth itself will find a way into the person’s heart, especially when spoken in love,” said Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Bishop Teodor Bacani Jr., during a recent recollection of the Accredited Archdiocesan Apologists of the Archdiocese of Manila at the Bahay Pari, San Carlos Seminary, Makati City.
Speaking to young apologists or defenders of the Catholic Church, the prelate stressed how the Truth “has its power” and how it can convince people about Jesus when it is “illustrated by a loving life and loving actions.”
Bacani, who also teaches Theology at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) and the Recoletos School of Wisdom, downplayed the need for apologists to display their flair for debate when talking to people who do not share the same views on faith.
“It is not enough that you win [debates]. What is important is that you will also win the heart of the one you defeat,” he explained.
To illustrate his point, the prelate, who is also the spiritual adviser of the Salt and Light for Christ community, mentioned how his seminary professor, Juan Medrano, a layman apologist, told someone after a particuarly bitter debate about faith: “The entire time you talked about God and His love, but not once did I feel that love from you.”
Bacani added: “It is love that saves.”
He was also quick to dispel the idea that apologists study Scripture and Church traditions to “destroy” enemies of the Catholic Church.
“Your training is not like sharpening a bladed weapon…That’s not it. [It is rather that] I will try my best to teach this person the faith,” Bacani explained.
One thing apologists or faith defenders forget, said the prelate, is the centrality of prayer in apologetics.
“If you want someone to be converted, let’s study but most of all, pray for that person. Do not debate. Let them explain then you explain,” he said.
Bacani cited St. Francis de Sales’ belief that “honey catches more flies than vinegar”, giving the apologists, most of whom are young, working professionals, practical tips for faith-defending.
“Our attitude is so important…Research, be guided. Pray for yourself and the one you will talk to. Practice being cool and loving when you explain,” he said.
Apologist comes from the Greek root word apologia which means “defense.”
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, apologetics is “the comprehensive, scientific vindication of the grounds of Christian, Catholic belief, in which the calm, impersonal presentation of underlying principles is of paramount importance.” (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz/CBCPNews)