For those unfamiliar with the acronym, AMDG stands for Ad maiorem Dei gloriam, meaning for the Greater Glory of God and is the motto of the Jesuit order. Everything must be done in order to reflect the glory of God.
Having given the matter some thought, I am aware that perhaps I have come across as intolerant and overly-aggressive which certainly is not my aim. What I am engaging to attempt, albeit in quite a ham-fisted fashion is some good old-fashioned Christian apologetics. Apologetics doesn’t mean apologising for faith, but derives from the Greek, apologia meaning a speaking in defence.
Part of my faith calls me to evagalise. However I am unable to do this effectively, help others to understand my faith if I don’t understand it myself. Unless I can discuss my faith rationally, I am unable to share it with anyone be they fellow Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus. agnostics or atheists.
I am unlike the traditional “cradle Catholics” who are prone to accept dogma, doctrines and Tradition not because they understand them but out of habit ingrained in them as children. I had actually quite a loosely Catholic upbringing, with many of the outward trappings, but none of the catechism. Often cradle catholics simply accept the Church’s teaching at face value, which is entirely natural, it is how children learn.But at some point we must appropriate our faith intellectually, if we don’t understand our faith, how can we live it, let alone share it with those in need?
I have reacted very strongly to criticism that my faith makes me some sort of raving bigot, wishing to impose my morality on others and do them real damage. I understand people’s difficulty with the Church and with Catholicism in general, particularly in the light of the appalling and indefensible child abuse scandals. What I am seeking to do, is to demonstrate that my faith is well-thought out, rational and not the product of a mind that has been subject to pressure. Chances are that if you’re not questioning some aspect of your faith, you aren’t thinking about it.
What I did realise however is that I need to temper this and attempt apologetics and evangelism with love and sensitivity. Whilst the Bible does contain a call towards apologetics “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Ptr. 3:15), St Peter also adds the following “Yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame” (3:15–16).
I do not wish to perpetuate the myth of intolerance. I recognise that an aggressive approach is counterproductive, so for any who have found my thoughts unpalatable due to having been addressed in something of a hectoring tone. I apologise. My aim is to attempt to reflect the great Jesuit principle wherever possible.