Popular Catholic author Patrick Madrid has a new book coming out this summer, and you don’t want to miss it! Madrid is a cradle Catholic and a leading popular apologist for the Catholic faith through his work with Catholic Answers, Envoy Magazine, EWTN, and Immaculate Heart Radio. He is known for being witty, engaging, knowledgeable, and charitable as he explains and defends the truth of the Catholic faith. Below is a Q&A shared by the publisher of his new book, Why Be Catholic, Ten Answers to a Very Important Question.
Q&A with Patrick Madrid about his new book, “Why Be Catholic?”
Q. What inspired you to write Why Be Catholic?
It was more a matter of “who” than “what.” Over the last 30 years or so, I have encountered countless people who have posed this very question. Some couldn’t imagine anything more ridiculous or objectionable than the Catholic Church, and others who were genuinely interested in becoming Catholic sought answers and information. I’m convinced that “Why be Catholic?” is a very important question, whether it comes from a scoffer or from a seeker. I wrote this book so I could present to the reader, regardless of his or her feelings about the Catholic Church, what I believe to be the compelling and convincing answers. These reasons can change one’s life for the better if they are honestly considered and explored.
Q. What do you love most about being Catholic?
I love being Catholic the way Noah loved being on the Ark when the flood came. Like the Ark, the Catholic Church is not perfect. It’s not tidy, clean, and odor-free. It has plenty of problems and challenges and unruly passengers, but it’s still the “ark of salvation” given to us by God and I love that I get to be on board. I love the beauty of the Catholic Church’s teachings, its Liturgy, art, architecture, music, and wisdom. I love the Catholic Church because it is “ever ancient, ever new.” I love tracing its existence back 2000 years to Jesus Christ and the Apostles, and I get to be part of that. I love being Catholic because of its richness and diversity. It’s a big hospital for sick people – sinners, like you and me — and it’s in the Catholic Church that I can receive the cure for what ails me. I love being Catholic because I can have the most personal relationship with Jesus Christ possible, by receiving Him, body, blood, soul, and divinity, in the Holy Eucharist.
Q. How did you become a Catholic apologist? What is the most rewarding part of your job? What is the most challenging?
Although born-&-raised Catholic, and never left the Church or even had the slightest doubt about whether I should be Catholic, I did nevertheless experience a profound re-conversion or recommitment to Jesus when I was in my mid-20s. As I was praying to God to show me what to do with my life, the door to the world of apologetics opened suddenly and completely unexpectedly. I tell the whole story here: http://www.catholic.com/audio-player/7779, but the short version is that God answered my prayers by opening that door to work at Catholic Answers, back in early 1988. I’ve never looked back, always grateful for this wonderful opportunity to serve in this part of the Lord’s vineyard. I think the most rewarding aspect of the work I’ve been privileged to do is knowing that it helps others draw closer to God and the things of God, not because of me but because the truth, as Jesus promised, will set us free. As for challenges, to be frank, I really don’t see any. Sure, the work sometimes involves routine inconveniences that come with travelling, but that’s nothing compared to the hardships Saint Paul endured, including beatings, stoning, getting shipwrecked, starved, etc. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). That puts it all into perspective for me. I love what I do and I love that God permits me to do it!
Q. As a Catholic apologist, you sometimes participate in debates with those who reject the teachings of the Catholic Church. In your experience, what is the most common argument you hear against Catholic teaching?
I don’t enjoy doing debates, but I have done about a dozen formal, public, debates. The most common arguments raised against Catholic teaching are based on the underlying question of authority, everything from the “Bible alone” (sola Scriptura) argument to the “Science proves that God doesn’t exist” claims, and everything in between. Most arguments against the Catholic Church, I have found, are simply based on misunderstandings of what the Bible and the Church actually teach.
Q. In Why Be Catholic you write that “being Catholic does not require that I fully comprehend every truth God proposes to me.” Could you elaborate on that point?
Well, for example, I don’t fully comprehend what it means to have a soul. I know I have one, I know it’s in my body. I can think, ponder, remember, be self-reflective, self-aware, and love. But how exactly that all happens in me, and how my soul and body work together as a single unit, I don’t fully comprehend. No one does. But we know these things are true even if we can’t understand all their complex realities. That is the nature of truth. It’s not necessary to first understand every single facet of a truth before he will deign to accept it. We all know this from personal experience in our daily lives. These divine mysteries revealed by God are deep and far more profound than the fact that I have a soul. We should never forget that a mystery is not something we can know nothing about, it is something we cannot know everything about.
Q. Who should read this book?
I wrote Why Be Catholic? For two particular audiences: the first is the person who is not Catholic, may not know much about the Catholic Church and, heck, may not even like the Catholic Church. I want to take that reader gently by the arm and show him what the stained glass windows look like from the inside, the way they were meant to be seen, with the sunlight streaming through them so that their meaning and beauty can be understood and appreciated. So many non-Catholics see the Catholic Church in a way similar to looking at a stained-glass window from the outside, where their beauty is impossible to perceive. I hope that non-Catholic readers of Why Be Catholic? will experience the adventure and wonder of exploring the Ancient Church in a new way and from a new vantage point.
The second audience, naturally, is Catholics, whether they are firm in their faith or wavering, plagued with many doubts and questions. For them, I pray that Why Be Catholic? will serve as a gentle and comforting reminder that they are in the right place. They are on the Ark and, no matter how turbulent the ride may get or how jostling the conditions on board might be, if they remain, with God’s grace they will make it through the flood.