In the New Testament, Peter told the early Christian to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:15-16 NIV).
Today, in a world that is becoming more and more secular and less and less friendly to any religious beliefs, we must be more prepared than ever to defend our Catholic faith. We must train our children to do the same, so that they aren’t caught off-guard when they are challenged by those around them for the way that we have raised them. CAINA—the Catholic Apologetics Institute of North America—is one organization that is helping parents do just this.
Why Do We Need Apologetics?
“Apologetics is the art of credibly, convincingly, and compellingly defending and presenting our faith,” says Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Many of the early Church Fathers were skilled at apologetics, and some of their greatest writing defended the Catholic faith against the ideals and values of ancient Rome.
Given our increasingly secular society and the atheistic worldview often promoted by the media and academic/scientific establishment, the need to strengthen the faith of Catholics and equip the faithful to better explain why we believe what we do has never been greater. As Cardinal Dolan stated, “We have failed to equip our young people and ourselves with the art of credibly, convincingly, and compellingly defending and presenting our beloved faith. Apologetics prepares us to survive a rational criticism of our faith that is all over the place today. We need it more than ever.”
Bishop Robert Barron said at the Youth Synod in Rome, “Innumerable surveys and studies over the past ten years have confirmed that young people frequently cite intellectual reasons when asked what has prompted them to leave the Church or lose confidence in it. Chief among these are the convictions that religion is opposed to science or that it cannot stand up to rational scrutiny. What is vitally needed today, as an aspect of the accompaniment of the young, is a renewed apologetics and catechesis. A new apologetics should look deep and long into the question of the relationship between religion and science.”
CAINA is an excellent apologetics resource for families who want to learn how to defend their Catholic faith to those around them. This is especially important for high school and university-age students, who are most at risk of getting hard questions from peers or teachers.
What is CAINA?
In support of the Catholic Church’s New Evangelization, the Catholic Apologetics Institute of North America (CAINA) provides informative and interesting presentations and writings to help Catholics better understand and uphold our faith heritage to an increasingly secular society in need of hope and the Christian vision.
CAINA offers PowerPoint and video-based presentations on apologetics, Islam and Christianity, and Church history for adults and youth at Catholic parishes, schools, campus ministries, conferences, etc. Five of these presentations are now available on CMAX TV, where you can rent or purchase one or all five to view at home or in your school or parish.
CAINA’s two most popular apologetics presentations are God and Science: Where Does the Evidence Lead? and Which is True: Creation, Evolution, or Both? These multimedia presentations present “the rest of the story” on the actual harmony between science and faith, contrary to the prevailing modern myth that they conflict. These apologetics presentations help dispel doubts, strengthen faith, and equip faithful Catholics to share objective reasons for belief with family and friends.
The CAINA presentations are geared for older teens or young adults. Sunshine completed grade 7 this year and, according to the BC curriculum, was supposed to cover evolution in science. I spent most of the year looking for Christian resources for her on the topic of evolution and creation, to provide a balanced perspective in line with our faith. We rented Which is True: Creation, Evolution, or Both on CMAX TV to view.
While I enjoyed Steve’s presentation and his historical and scientific explanations, much of it was a bit over Sunshine’s head. I would suggest it for a young adult group at church, unless you have a student who is particularly interested in science and this topic (as I was at Sunshine’s age).
CAINA also has five PowerPoint presentations available on their website on topics such as Faith and the Big Questions and Islam and Christianity.
More about President Steve Hemler
Steven R. Hemler is President of CAINA and author of The Reality of God: The Layman’s Guide to Scientific Evidence for the Creator, Search No More: The Keys to Truth and Happiness, and Catholic Stories of Faith and Hope: How God Brings Good Out of Suffering, all published by TAN Books.
Steve has a Master of Pastoral Studies degree from Loyola University of Chicago, as well as Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Civil/Structural Engineering from Virginia Tech. He also has a Certificate in the Catechism of the Catholic Church from Catholic Distance University and a Certificate in Advanced Youth Ministry Studies from the Center for Ministry Development, as well as Specialized Catechist Certification in Apologetics from the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. Steve has been actively involved in adolescent and adult catechesis for over 30 years, including developing and teaching several 3-week-long online apologetics seminars for the Certificate in Apologetics offered by Catholic Distance University.
After a 33-year professional engineering career, including 13 years in Saudi Arabia, Steve took early retirement in 2011 to follow a calling to serve God and the Church full time. Steve and his wife Linda have been married for over 40 years and have three grown children. They live in Culpeper, Virginia, and are active at Precious Blood Catholic Church, where Steve serves as the Coordinator of Adult Faith Formation.
Steve has given CAINA’s well-received presentations over 300 times across the United States. Hehas been on TV discussing his two books with Doug Keck on EWTN Bookmark, religion and science with Fr. Mitch Pacwa on EWTN LIVE, and with Fr. John Giel on the Catholic Community Television Network (CCTN). He has also appeared on several popular Catholic radio shows, including The Jennifer Fulwiler Show, Meet the Author with Ken Huck, and Faithworks with Dr. Matthew Bunson.
To find out more about CAINA or defending the Catholic faith, drop by their website. You can explore their presentations and videos as well as view a huge list of articles on various topics. You can also connect with CAINA on Facebook. To find out more about Steve and his books, follow him on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Have your teens done any apologetics training? Are they prepared to defend their Catholic faith? What apologetics resources would you recommend?