By Austen Ivereigh 

Our Sunday Visitor, 2012 

160 pages, $13.95

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If you are known as a well-informed Catholic whose faith goes beyond an hour on Sunday, it’s bound to happen. It could be at the company picnic or some family gathering. Inevitably, you will be asked to explain, defend or justify the Catholic Church’s position on some moral issue of the day.   

You scramble for an answer. You point out a or b to add some perspective on the issue. Or, worse, you lose your temper. You’re tired of the trite persecution by your family and friends. Either way, in the end, you didn’t feel like you were a good spokesperson for the Catholic Church.

Enter author Austen Ivereigh and his new book, How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice, to the rescue. His mission is to equip you to better handle such nerve-racking moments. 

"We call these issues ‘neuralgic’ because they touch on nerve endings, those places in the body which, when pressed, cause people to squeal," writes Ivereigh in his introduction. "In our public conversation, they are the points which lie on the borders where mainstream social thinking inhabits a different universe from that of Catholics. Touch on them and people get really annoyed. ‘How on earth can you believe that?’ they ask you."

In 10 chapters, the author dives into such polarizing topics as same-sex "marriage," contraception, assisted suicide, abortion and religious freedom, among others. Each chapter serves as a hands-on guide to what is at the heart of the issue. 

He starts with the secular view of the issue. For instance, in his chapter on assisted suicide, he points out that the challenge presented by society is: Why would the Church be against those who are terminally ill from choosing the time of their own death? He then explains the why of what the Church teaches and ends each chapter with a reframing of the issue. In the example of assisted suicide, he writes, "Assisted suicide is a mistaken attempt to avoid pain and suffering. The idea of an autonomous, free, rational choice in favor of suicide is a myth. Rather than condemn people to unnecessary suffering, we need to enhance the quality of our care for the dying."

At times, his explanations of Church teaching are too exhausting, in the sense that one’s defense of the faith is more likely to be in the form of a three-minute sound bite rather than a lengthy campus debate. However, for those who want to master the Church’s position on these topics, the information provided by Ivereigh is concise and to the point. He offers ample quotes from the Holy Father and bishops as well as statistics that support what the faith teaches. He appropriately points out how the Church’s stance is often sympathetic to popular opinion on ethical issues of the day. However, it is the manner in which the popular solution is carried out that is often problematic. 

In the end, this positive approach to what the Church really teaches makes one feel proud to be Catholic. His practical lessons on how to tackle these neuralgic topics make this book a must-read for any Catholic who wants to share his or her faith. 

Eddie O’Neill writes from

New Castle, Colorado.