Ancient people believed that their gods needed human support in the form of sacrifices — animal or even human — in order to live. God, however makes abundantly clear in the Bible that he is not like that. He does not need our sacrifices. He is self-sufficient.
Renowned Baptist preacher and author Charles Spurgeon said it best: “The Gospel is like a caged lion. It does not need to be defended. It just needs to be let out of its cage.”
Many people don’t understand the Catholic faith. This leads people to confusion or misunderstanding about the sacraments and what exactly it is we believe. Defending my faith has come to be a big addition to my personal and social life in the past two years.
I go to high school at Mount St. Mary Academy. Since starting as a freshman, I came to realize how much harder it is to be a soldier for Christ. The first time I truly realized my fears that came with defending God was in sophomore theology. This was the year I covered the infamous morality chapter in theology. By my second year of high school I realized that not everyone at Mount was Catholic. But theology class soon became a series of debates and long discussions about what is right and wrong in the eyes of the Church and people’s personal opinions.
In times of obvious disagreements I could have just as easily sat back silently and watched, but I made the decision to defend the Catholic beliefs in touchy issues.
Another time I was faced with direct opposition against Catholicism was in the fall of 2015, when I went with my Catholic Youth Ministry to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis. This experience overwhelmingly showed me how we are not alone in our faith. It also showed me how we must also be firm in our faith against the evils of our world. I have been fortunate enough to have gone to Catholic schools all my life, but that has in a way kept me in a bubble from the real world.
The protesters we encountered in Philadelphia really shocked me. They would stake out a corner close to checkpoints and wave around signs, hand out pamphlets and yell “Pope Francis is the Antichrist” into megaphones. This was my first real test in standing firm in my faith.
After my experiences in Philadelphia I realized that for me to be able to defend my faith, I must know my faith. To learn about Catholicism other than from a textbook, I would go to Catholic summer camps and retreats. One summer camp I attended, called Alive in You, was a service-based camp, where we would go out into the community to serve and come back at night for praise and worship. There were also multiple other conferences that would bring together thousands of teens to share and celebrate our faith.
A recent local tool I have discovered that helps me to be more confident in my faith is a program I went through called Search. Search is a three-day diocesan retreat for teens, to help them have a deeper understanding of God and to become a soldier for Christ in the outside world. The Search team members, to me, embodied a willingness and excitement to share God’s love.
At the end of Search the last thing we do is receive our Search crosses. This is an outward symbol of you being a solider for Christ, and it is also like your armor against the world.
For me today, defending my faith means living my faith openly in front of everyone and not being ashamed of it.
What I have found that helps me is to surround myself with people who have the same beliefs and morals as me. In high school everybody is trying to find a friend group or somewhere to belong. It will be easier to openly live your faith if you find people who have these qualities. You won’t have to worry about hiding your faith from your friends or conform yourself to fit in. Your friends should be somewhat like a support group and help you grow in your faith, not bury you underneath the worries and materials of the world.
I defend Catholicism on a daily basis through my responsibilities on the Youth Advisory Council or YAC. YAC at the diocese brings together around 24 teenagers from all over Arkansas that help plan and lead retreats for youth. I love to be a leader in our faith in front of the multiple parishes of the diocese. YAC also challenges me to be bold and grow in my faith by improving my relationship with God and encouraging others to do the same.
A quote that reminds me to stand up and live and defend my faith is in Psalm 94:16: “Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will stand up for me against evildoers?”
Once you have claimed your faith as your own you must take up your shield and defend it.
Olivia Parker is a junior at Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock. She attends Immaculate Conception Church in North Little Rock.
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