Q&A with Patrick MadridQ. 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. 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 (I 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 re-commitment 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 unexpectedly. 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 traveling, 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.
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. 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.
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 they will make it through the flood.
"If this book had been available when I was still a Protestant, I may have been convinced to become Catholic without reading any further. It’s a great resource for dispelling much of the misinformation and ignorance that abounds about the Church and also a reminder to us Catholics as to how blessed we truly are." -Gail Buckley, Founder & President, Catholic Scripture Study International
"This book is as simple and clear as its title. In ten chapters, master apologist Madrid explains and explores ten good reasons to be Catholic--ten good, true and beautiful things the Church offers us. Each is explained in a way almost impossible to misunderstand, and enlivened by fascinating actual incidents from the author's life. Full of historical facts and commonsense arguments for Catholic teachings, yet not intimidatingly 'scholarly,' this is a perfect book for inquirers or beginners."
"To be Catholic is to be joyously human and alive; ready to both party and to feel deeply the grief of this world. It is to know deep common sense and deep mystery; to weep at the tomb of Lazarus and to shout in triumph over death at the tomb of Jesus. Patrick Madrid gets this and is one of the best guides to the Faith writing in English."
“Patrick Madrid has done it again. With wit, humility, and nearly three decades of experience, Madrid lovingly responds to the top misconceptions about Catholicism, making it simple for each of us to swing wide the gates in welcoming people into the Catholic Church.”
More About the Author
BiographyPATRICK MADRID is a life-long Catholic. He has authored or edited 16 books on Catholic themes, including Search and Rescue, Where Is That in the Bible, and the acclaimed Surprised by Truth series.
In the fall of 2012, he will release four new books with four different publishers: Our Sunday Visitor, Servant Books, Saint Benedict Press, and Random House.
Since 1996, Patrick has published Envoy Magazine, and he also serves as the director of the Envoy Institute, which is dedicated to teaching Catholics how to explain their Faith more intelligently, defend it more charitably, and share it more effectively.
Commenting publicly on the effectiveness of Patrick's approach to doing apologetics, Cardinal Edward Egan, Archbishop Emeritus of New York, said, "How do you bring a friend or relative back into the Church? First you pray. Then, you follow Patrick Madrid's advice in [his book] Search and Rescue."
Prior to launching the Envoy apostolate, Patrick worked at Catholic Answers for eight years (1988 to 1996), where he served as vice president.
A veteran of a dozen formal, public debates with Protestant ministers, Mormon leaders, and other non-Catholic spokesmen, he has presented over 2000 seminars on Catholic themes, in English and Spanish, at parishes, universities, and conferences across the U.S. and around the world.
Patrick hosts the Thursday edition of EWTN's "Open Line" radio broadcast (3-5 p.m. ET), heard on approximately 195 AM & FM stations across the country, as well as on Sirius Satellite Radio channel 130 and globally via shortwave.
Patrick earned a bachelor of science degree in business at the University of Phoenix, as well as a B.Phil. in philosophy and an M.A. in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical College Josephinum (Columbus, OH).
He teaches theology and apologetics as an adjunct professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
His website is www.patrickmadrid.com.