by Jeffrey van Zuiden
“Idol worshiper!” “Cult!” “You’re going to Hell!” These are just a few of the verbal attacks we can suffer as Catholic Christians. Sometimes, you might as well paint a bull’s-eye on your chest!
So how do you handle the accusations?
Preparedness. Ben Sira tells us: “My Child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials.” (Sirach 2:1) You must mentally prepare yourself. Envision the attacks you will face, and a prepare you responses. Pray on this very topic. Between a sound mental preparation, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, your armor will be strong for the battle. “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)
Patience. Our Lord tells us: “Know this, my beloved brethren, let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger …” (James 1:19) Do not cross tongues in an argument. Let them finish speaking when possible, before entering you point. Always try to find something in what they said to agree with. Lead off with that, and then hit your point.
Strength. Ben Sira tells us: “Do not give ground before scoundrels; it will set them in ambush against you.” (Sirach 8:11) Stay strong in the face of attack; remember you posses the truth, even if you do not know how to articulate it, or they will not listen. Never be afraid to say, “I don’t have that answer for you, but can get it. Is there a way I can contact you?”
Wisdom. Ben Sira tells us: “Do not quarrel with loud-mouths, or heap wood upon their fire.” (Sirach 8:3). Remember, never argue. If it becomes too heated, or they clearly aren’t listening, stop. You can not cure a “hardness of heart.” Always remember the example our Lord left us: “But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil, but if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also …” (Matthew 5:39)
When I was a Protestant, like many others, I attacked the Catholic Church. I would disagree with some other Protestants from time to time, but attack was reserved for the Catholic Church. The thought dawned on me one day why this always seems to be the case. Really, it’s simple: Deep in my heart, like most Protestants, I had questions and doubts left by the holes in our doctrines. This caused me, like many others, to lash out. But the Catholics — well, they could always explain their beliefs, and they made logical sense, if I bothered to listen.
My point is this; we have the “fullness of truth.” Always remember that. We are called to spread the Good News with love and charity in our hearts. “… for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God … receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:20-21)
May God bless you!