In the know with Father Joe

Apologetics or Apologizing?

Dear Fr. Joe: Whenever I hear people talking about apologetics, I get confused. It sounds like apologizing, and I don’t think we need to apologize for our faith! What am I misunderstanding?

First, let’s define apologetics. It’s a tougher thing to do than you would think, because the word is flexible enough to be used in a few ways.

These days, when we say we are apologizing, what we are usually doing is asking someone’s forgiveness in an informal way: “I apologize for laughing when your team fumbled and my team scored.”

How can I invite my family and friends back to church?

What a great question – it can be such a difficult thing to invite someone into practicing the faith without coming across as self-righteous or as somehow a bit “off.” A big part of the process of bringing someone back is to start with the recognition of a couple of points.

First, remember that what you are desiring is holy; it’s good. Sometimes, what we desire isn’t so good, isn’t so holy. You have in your heart a hunger to bring someone back into a communal practice of the faith and that is a blessing. You desire something good.

Why is there so much violence in the world?

I write this article with a heavy heart.

We live in violent times. Some will say that things have always been this violent, and that may or may not be true. What is objectively true is that we’ve never been able to observe and process the present violence in the way we can now. Social media have, for better or worse, revealed our interconnectedness in a way that has never been possible before.

If you are like me, each event of great violence prompts feelings of sadness, fear and powerlessness.

Sadness, because people were killed.

Do I really have to talk about Jesus?

Dear Father Joe: To be a good Christian witness, is it enough to be a good person – or do I have to talk about Jesus?

Thank you for your question: It’s an important one. Often, when we imagine ourselves talking about Jesus to co-workers or friends, it comes across as an uncomfortable requirement, instead of an organic reality that comes about from living our faith well. What I’d encourage us to do is get us out of the either/or idea and into the both/and.

Priest, pastor, nun, brother: How are these roles different?

These questions sure made me do some research! It’s funny, but I found that there were some elements to this that I simply didn’t know. One of the first things I discovered is that there are official terms and designations and there is the way we talk – these can be two different things! Think of what happens when you want to blow your nose: you ask for a Kleenex. What you are really asking for is officially called “paper facial tissue”, but we all call it one brand of paper facial tissue: Kleenex. (Massive props to the Kleenex marketing department).

What's the point of small faith-sharing groups?

All over the country, a movement is really taking shape in the form of small faith-sharing groups. We’ve been getting a lot of questions about the value of and need for this practice, so we’re going to talk about it here and now.

Small faith-sharing groups meet a very practical and human need: the need to belong. In a large parish, there is always the danger of getting “lost in the shuffle.” In a small parish, there is always the challenge of being the “new person” or outsider.

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