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However, I reiterate again that the best preparation for defending the faith in a harsh world comes from going to a university that represents the harsh world, and finding the tightly-knit faith community that invariably exists there.

I agree that it is one valid course of preparation, but am not sure it can in all cases with confidence be called the "best" one. Masada is not in our heritage but the Jewish one, and the Mighty Fortress is a Lutheran hymm. We perchance define ourselves best as Catholics, especially in these postmodern times, by not worrying about the defenses of the faith so much, to not get entirely caught up in the defensiveness, but to simply use the energy available to you to go about your own mission, as baptism calls us to do. Focus on the forward movement of one's own faith, on what one is called to do and must do next, and backpedalling or "defending" the faith becomes almost an unnatural act.

There is also something in the New Testament about shaking the dust off of your feet when you are not well received, and still more, even less subtle, about casting pearls before swine.

As various saints all throughout Catholic history have demonstrated, much but not all great Catholic thought occurs at the university level. I think that the Catholic university, ever an institution that is isolated to varying degrees if not quite any longer monastic, is also ever in danger of becoming a defensive fortress, rather than an offensive launching pad.

I don't need to come to the boards or go to work to indulge Catholic criticism much--I can get all the critiquing of the faith I need from most metropolitan daily newspapers, which publish at least one thing critical of Catholics every single day. And I know there is much to criticize: if Catholicism is 1/7th of the world, its adherents figure to be responsible for 1/7th of the world's mistakes. (Even if they were slightly better than everyone else, they would still account for 1/8th of the worlds mistakes, a tremendous amount!) But I don't believe they are better than anyone else. I also already hear most of the criticisms each Sunday after mass, over donuts and coffee, out of the mouths of churchgoing Catholics themselves.

This points to the chief reason I'm in my church's RCIA. In RCIA I get to work with people who are moving forward, interested in becoming Catholic, or receiving sacraments they missed. I am not often in a position of being obliged to shake my feet of dust, but when I do, I relish the opportunity to move on, because I am always moving on with others. To be around isolated people who are interested in tearing the faith down is pointlessly draining--God will work with them if they pray, I can't do much until they do. But to be around a group of people who are genuinely interested in Catholicism, whose lives are filled with transformational energy, positive spirit, and mystery--I too am transformed into something new along with them, every single year, just by being around them.

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