SIR,-Recently Sir Arnold Lunn gave a talk at the Alfonsianum, the Redemptorist college in Rome, on the subject of the teaching of Apologetics in our schools.
In not a fcw cases, the way the subject is taught produces few good results. If Apologetics remains nothing more than a school subject our youngsters will gain nothing from it. They only remember what they think will be of use to them later on, and, if Apologetics is only an exam to be passed-the exam over, Apolngedes is done with.
It must be made to come alive. How can this be done? Above all by bringing them into contact with real questions and real people. Apologetics is a type of boxing and one can learn to box only by taking on real people. There is a technique in discussing which has to be learnt.
Sir Arnold has spent considerable time in America and when he was teaching Apologetics in Notre Dame High School, he arranged meetings and discussions with Protestants and Communists (refreshments provided by the organiser). The results were worth the effort. One of his class, within a few years after leaving school, had twelve converts to his credit.
But someone might ask: Will our boys be able to stand the attack on their faith? Sir Arnold's class did.
A point which the speaker stressed, was the value of public debates-an activity in which he has engaged, especially in America. People like to hear both sides of a story and so form an opinion on their own account.
Often, Catholics are accused of haying an inferiority complex. This should not be so. The case for our faith is strong. to say the least, and what is more. we have the advantage of knowing beforehand most of the arguments brought against it. This is not the case with our opponents. The chief danger of our age is materialism, which is spread not only by Communists. Young Catholics, by defending and putting into practice Christian principles, can do a lot to stem this evil.
They will be surprised at the number of people who are anxious to ask them questions. But they must not be surprised if these often seem rather aggressive: they do not always want to appear as likely converts, and So hide behind a bluff exterior. Sir Arnold knew this from personal experience, from his own attitude to the first Catholic he met, an Irish army chaplain. But it is important that we should not be aggressive.
Three things arc of great value. Keep an even temper. Make an occasional joke. Try to compliment your "boxing partner" (this may sometimes be difficult but it is worth trying). Apologetics, said Sir Arnold, is the art of defending the faith, not of passing an exam.
B. Abram!, 0.Carm.
Collegio Internazionale S. Alberto, Dei PP. Carmelitani, Roma.
SIR,-I would be grateful for a little space to thank the anonymous CATHOLIC HERALD reader who sent a donation of 2.6 to the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child, following Pat Jones' excellent feature in a recent issue, drawing attention to our work and appeal for financial support. We have also received a donation of 5/as a result of this article.
We need an extra £6,000 a year in order to continue our vital work, and it is just this kind of generous support from members of the public that will save us.
Margaret E. Bramall