From the Pastor – May 14, 2023

Beloved: Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope. (1 Pet. 3:15)

For the last several years our Director of Religious Education, Phillip Bellini, has been running a series of articles in the bulletin on “Apologetics.”  Since the word has the same origin as our word “apology,” often time people think that the word means to “say you’re sorry.”  That’s not the case, but the origins of the words are similar.

Both “apology” and “apologetics” come from the Greek word “apologia” or apologia, but the original meaning of the word has changed in our current use of the word “apology.”

In the classical Greek legal system two key technical terms were employed: the prosecution delivered the “kategoria” which was like “bringing charges,” and the defendant replied with an “apologia.” To deliver an “apologia” then meant making a formal defense speech to reply and rebut the charges against onesself.

That word “apologia” appears in the Greek of the New Testament when St. Paul uses it in his trial speech: “I make my defense” (Acts 26:2).  It’s also used in his Letter to the Philippians as he is “defending the gospel” (1:7 & 17).  And it’s used in the second reading for Mass today (quoted above) where St. Peter tells the early Christians must be ready to give an “explanation” for their faith.

The word “apologia” in Greek is formed by two words: “apo” (apo) meaning “for” and “logos” (logoz) meaning “word.”  In it’s most basic form, one is giving a “word” “for” what one believes.  In a sense, it’s giving a “word” for the Word made Flesh.

Learning to give a good “defense” of one’s faith means learning about Jesus and what He said and did.  But it also means learning how the Holy Spirit has guided the Church over its 2,000 year history.  Jesus didn’t leave us alone.  He sent  the Holy Spirit upon the early Church at Pentecost, and that same Holy Spirit continues to guide the Church.  So even though “apologetics” involves some studying, it must be animated by the Holy Spirit.  It must be done in a spirit of charity and compassion toward those who have not come into a more personal relationship with Jesus.  And Jesus Himself gives us encouragement and peace.  Because He even used the word apology: “When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say.  For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”  (Lk 12:11-12).

I hope a lot of parishioners will think about attending some of our Apologetics classes as we give them from time to time. As St. Peter says, we need to be able to explain the hope that is within us!

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty