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.