Defending the Faith Without Getting Defensive

There are times when someone who is not Catholic may have a question about your faith. Why do Catholics not eat meat on Fridays in Lent? Or why do Catholics have to confess their sins to a priest? It’s a great opportunity to be able to explain your faith with mutual respect. There are other times, though, when someone may be insulting, belittling, or attacking your Catholic faith. In those situations it’s easy to get angry or defensive and think that if they’re not going to respect you, you don’t have to respect them.

However, Jesus commanded you to turn the other cheek and pray for those who persecute you. So retaliating with anger or insults isn’t really an option. Patrick Madrid, host of The Patrick Madrid Show, has spent decades as an apologist, defending and explaining the Catholic faith. And one thing that many listeners have noticed is is signature calm, collected approach to those who call-in to the show. Whether he is being yelled at, insulted, or told how wrong he is, Patrick keeps his cool as he responds to whatever is thrown at him.

Recently, a listener called in to The Patrick Madrid Show to ask Patrick what his secret is. She confessed that she has a hard time keeping her cool when her Catholic faith is attacked, and asked for guidance on how to respond to attacks or insults in a more charitable manner.

Patrick responded saying, “A lot of that has to do with just long experience in dealing with this. I’ve been at this for over 30 years. So I don’t know necessarily in my case if practice makes perfect, but practice does sort of move you in the direction of knowing how to deal with that kind of emotionalism and not let it get to you.”

But he also acknowledged, “It’s not always easy. Because I’m like you, I think all of us are that way, that we would feel offended and we would get a little bit hyped up because somebody is attacking our mom, Mother Church, and nobody likes that.”

When it comes to the ability to speak the truth in love to those who attack the faith, Patrick said, “My advice would be to just remember that this is somebody who Christ died for. Christ loves this person. And out of ignorance, or whatever the reasons are, they just don’t see it yet. So don’t let them make you angry, maybe have that anger make you a bit more compassionate.”

But how can you be compassionate when someone is speaking so poorly of Christ and His Church? Patrick said he looks to the example of Jesus, and how He responded to those who persecuted Him, and the one key phrase that he keeps at the forefront of his mind when defending the faith.

“You notice as He was on the Cross, as they were killing Him – after torturing Him, the crown of thorns, the scourging at the pillar, everything that went into it – and now they’ve nailed His hands and is feet to the Cross and He’s dying, He still says, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ So I try to think of that when I’m faced with that type of anger or insult.”

Just as Christ used His death on the Cross to bring eternal life, we can use attacks on the faith as opportunities to bring light and life to those in darkness. Patrick said, “I just remember Jesus loves these people too. And maybe they don’t get it yet, but maybe He wants me to be in this conversation to help them a little bit further down that road. I find that helpful, and it helps me stay calm.”

“We need to love them and be patient with them,” he said. “If Jesus could say, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do’ when He’s being crucified, I think you and I can probably hang in there. Don’t you think?”

Listen to the full conversation below:

The Patrick Madrid Show airs weekdays from 9:00 a.m. – noon Eastern/6:00 – 9:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio and the Relevant Radio App.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.