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Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. SPECIAL PROMOTION FOR NEW MONTHLY DONATIONS! Thank you and God bless.

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Apologetics for Regular People

Erik Tafoya’s story of imprisonment and redemption is a powerful demonstration of God’s mercy. Now Tafoya is on a mission to bring apologetics to everyday folks. He shares his story and his techniques for explaining and defending the Faith.


Cy Kellett:

Hello, and welcome to Focus, the Catholic Answers podcast for living, understanding, and defending your Catholic faith. I am Cy Kellett, your host. And sometimes when we’re making the show, we’re like, “We have a topic and we want to find somebody who’s an expert in that topic.” And sometimes we have a person and we just want to talk to that person. And we’ll talk with them about anything. And that’s, I kind of think, what we’re doing today. Erik Tafoya, an extraordinary person, a convert to the Catholic faith, we’ll get a little bit of his story. I don’t know, a podcaster, right? That’s the word I’m supposed to say? Podcaster.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

A traditional urban Catholic speaker and a fired-up Christian. One of those things that we see again and again and again is that the convert to the faith often brings an energy that the rest of us need, really, really need. So it’s wonderful to welcome you, Erik. Thank you for being here with us.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah. Thank you, Cy. I appreciate being here.

Cy Kellett:

And what we wanted to talk with you about was sharing the faith with the unchurched today, because I think that’s a big part of what you do. So maybe you could just tell us a little bit of your story, and then I’ve got some questions for you about how to share the faith with those who don’t know Christ. They didn’t grow up in church, they don’t know all of that.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah. You know what? Because you asked me a little bit about my story. But before I do that, I’d just like to pray real quick. So if you don’t mind, I’m assuming.

Cy Kellett:

Oh, Erik, that’s fine.

Erik Tafoya:

Saint Michael, the Archangel Prayer, he defends me in battle. So in the name of Father,

Cy Kellett:

Amen.

Erik Tafoya:

… Son, Holy Spirit.

Cy Kellett:

Amen.

Erik Tafoya:

Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle.

Cy Kellett and Erik Tafoya:

Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do all thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, casting out Satan and every evil spirit that prowl around the world seeking the ruin the souls.

Cy Kellett:

Amen.

Erik Tafoya:

Amen. Amen. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Well, as you were saying, I was a part of the unchurched at one time.

Cy Kellett:

Is that how you grew up? Did you grow up outside the church? You didn’t get a religious upbringing at all?

Erik Tafoya:

Well, yeah. I guess there was some form of religious upbringing. I was baptized as a baby.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

But we were just kind of like the Christmas and Easter Christians-

Cy Kellett:

Gotcha.

Erik Tafoya:

… when I was non-Catholic. Because remember, I’m a convert you were saying that-

Cy Kellett:

Correct.

Erik Tafoya:

… to the faith. But I believe a big part of reaching out to the unchurched, I don’t know if you really want me to go into my background.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah, a little bit.

Erik Tafoya:

Okay.

Cy Kellett:

If you wouldn’t mind.

Erik Tafoya:

Well, I grew up in gangs, drugs, homelessness, extremely violent. Doing drugs at a young age and being sexually abused at a young age set me off on a pattern of life where I was just living in the world. I’d seek the pleasure of the world, instant gratification. I struggled for many years. And even when I did go into some form of Christianity or belief system, which was like Jehovah’s Witnesses, Calvinism, non-denominational, Baptist, Fundamentalism, extremely anti-Catholic, I could never get my life together. I always struggled. And even when people tried to reach out to me, I couldn’t get my life together.

Cy Kellett:

So how did you come to the Catholic faith then? How did that happen?

Erik Tafoya:

That’s an amazing story. And I know that we’re limited on our time right here, but what happened was back in 2015, I was struggling with life, going from relationship to relationship, all Catholic women, too, I was being with. Tearing down the crucifixes, ripping everything off the walls, pretty much making them capitulate from their faith. And so, what happened, I met a very awesome man named Joshua Betancourt. That’s what I’m talking about reaching out to the unchurched. He did a method that I’m going to talk about in a little while where he reached out to me through compassion and empathy. And he knew his faith. And so, that was my first instance of Catholicism.

And I met Terry, Barber, went to Sacred Heart Chapel, had an experience with the Blessed Virgin Mary there that I thought was extremely profound. I was mad and I left out of the conference.

Cy Kellett:

Really?

Erik Tafoya:

They were having a… It was Fred Krauss and Paul Clay, Catholic Evangelists, conversion stories. And I heard it and I got mad and I ran out the door and I kicked the pews. And everybody’s like, “What’s this guy doing?” I was really upset. “Why are they talking about Protestantism?” I was a Protestant at the time. And so, what happens is I went outside, took a walk around. And as I walked back out to the front, Sacred Heart Chapel in Covina, this old lady tells me, “What are you doing?” And I was like, “I’m upset. I’m Protestant.” And she simply tells me, “God’s brought you here for a reason. Open up your heart and receive Him.” And she went inside and I started crying because she hugged me so tight and lovingly. But they had a Blessed Virgin Mary out front. And I remember telling the Blessed Virgin Mary over and over again, “Why are you out here?” Actually cussing, bro, to be honest with you.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah, because you’re mad.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah, yeah. “If they’re Christians,” because this is what I was getting taught at this time, that Catholics were Christians. I didn’t know that before. I didn’t understand the church history and all that. But I remember this premonition, words coming into my mind saying that she was telling me, I was saying, “Why are you in front of the church? If they’re Christians, why isn’t Jesus out here?” But I remember this feeling, this emotion, this thought in my… “Your eternal salvation came from my womb. This is where Jesus came from, your salvation, the King that you’re always adoring and loving.” And at that moment, something changed. I went inside there, attended the rest of the service. It was awesome.

Cy Kellett:

Erik, what a story.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

Isn’t she wonderful? Isn’t she wonderful the way she’s there at that moment that we need her?

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

And she’s not a shrinking violet. She just tells you… Like what she said to you is very, that’s quite clear about who she is.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah. Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

She’s not shrinking from that. So tell me what you do now then.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

Okay, first of all, you ran into Terry Barber. That tells me a lot right there.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

Jesus had you on a path.

Erik Tafoya:

Yes, He did.

Cy Kellett:

He sends Terry Barber to people that need him.

Erik Tafoya:

Yes, He did.

Cy Kellett:

And so, I’m glad that you ran into Terry Barber.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah. But you know what? Even after that, see with the unchurched, sometimes we’re fighting addictions, we’re fighting mental health. Hurt people have a tendency of always hurting people and repeating these patterns.

Cy Kellett:

Right.

Erik Tafoya:

So I was getting incarcerated at 12 years old. Sexual abuse at 12 years old, drugs at 12 years old. And so, this pattern continued for many years. And even after I saw Terry and I was there, I went to a Cursillo, and I didn’t want to leave that Cursillo. Decolores i you’re a Cursista. But I didn’t want to leave because I had been sober for four days there at Divine Word Seminary right here in Norco, California or Rubidoux. And I didn’t want to leave. And I was like, “God, please.” And I wasn’t Catholic at the time. Remember, I’m not Catholic. I left.

But you know what happens when you clean your house and you don’t have the tools, the instruments, the right weapons, prayer weapons I’m talking about, to live in victory when the enemy attacks you?

Cy Kellett:

Yep.

Erik Tafoya:

I didn’t have it. I wasn’t Catholic yet. So when I left the Cursillo, the demons hit me 20 times harder. I picked up extreme heavy drug debts, just to be honest. I was extremely in the world. I tried to still go to RCIA. I tried to study the church fathers while I was in my addictions, still trying to attend mass. I started meeting people, but caught up in my addictions. I couldn’t help it. Men were after me. I picked up big drug debts. I got in a high-speed chase, and I killed a very beautiful person in a car accident eight years ago. My life will never be the same. I think about them all the time.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

Between me and you, I’ve got people attacking me because they think I’m not Catholic enough because of what I did. And I tell them, “But Jesus forgave me.”

Cy Kellett:

Praise God.

Erik Tafoya:

And the sacraments strengthen me.

Cy Kellett:

Right.

Erik Tafoya:

And so, I’ve came to the point now where I’m at today, is while I was in there, I got catechized. And I had to transform to-

Cy Kellett:

While you were in lockup?

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah. I was facing life in prison.

Cy Kellett:

Wow.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah. I was facing life in fed.

Cy Kellett:

And so you met a priest or other inmates or how did that happen?

Erik Tafoya:

You know what’s so awesome is that I was going to kill myself, literally. I was going to make a noose. I remember going to kill myself. All my family rejected me, my friends. Everybody was like, “Dude, you disturb me by what you were doing.” Because there was a lot of crimes. Okay? They were disturbing. I was outside of my mind. I was up for three weeks straight, completely on drugs, getting in gun shootouts, got stabbed in my leg. My life was out of control, and I begged God, “Take it away from me” one day.

That day I went in a high-speed chase and a beautiful man would lose his life. His name was Randolph Stevenson. My life will never be the same, because when I got incarcerated and I was going to kill myself, my son literally told me on the phone one day, “Dad, I love you. I forgive you. And I can’t wait to see you.” But I knew it wasn’t my son literally saying that because I was going to hang myself that day. But it was God telling me that I needed to hear it.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

Because I just barely started learning how to love myself. The unchurched, we don’t know how to love ourselves.

Cy Kellett:

Right.

Erik Tafoya:

How to receive love. And so, in that moment right there, I dropped on my knees. I went to my cell. And it was a couple days, a few days, but I could imagine every single person that I’ve hurt, God’s mercy and love was working through my system. And I couldn’t stop crying. I kept throwing up. I was sick. I could imagine everybody, every woman, every one of my family members, everybody from the community, everybody from society. And I asked God, “If I have to do life in prison, just use me.”

And it’s just like something came through my system and I started reading the Catechism and the Catholic, people would send them into me. My mom sent me in a Catholic Bible. She’s like, “Catholic, are you crazy?” I’m like, “Yes, Catholic.” And I had friends who said, “Okay, Erik. We see where you’re flawed, but we want to help you get better if you’re going to do life in prison.” So they sent me a rosary. They sent me books, tan books, Dynamic Catholic.

And I kept on growing in my faith, but I couldn’t forgive myself. And this is where the first priest comes in, because I called the diocese and I asked the diocese, “I need a priest. I know God forgives me, but I can’t forgive myself.” Because I was preaching every day. I would go to every cell. I was catechizing my brothers that were in there, men who were coming in and out. I was preaching the gospel because I had seen salvation. Even if I was going to spend my life behind bars, I wanted to be used for His glory. I’m an instrument of His peace and His love.

And so, I started doing that, but I couldn’t forgive myself. They send me a priest and I tell him what I just told you. He stands up and says, “How dare you?” And I’m thinking in my head, “Hey, man. Why is this priest?” Father Porter, he actually is a lead exorcist priest in our diocese, a very amazing man from, he’s at St. Kateri in Beaumont, South African. At the moment that they sent him to me, remember, I was baptized as a baby in 1981 by Father Marx, Louis Marx, rest in peace. They sent me a priest from that parish.

Cy Kellett:

Oh, isn’t that, that’s something, yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

There’s a little something just to let you know. Yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah. Just to let me know.

Cy Kellett:

Because the Lord is letting you know. Yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah. And then he did confession with me. And I told him my beliefs and I told him how I was studying the faith. It’d already been like six months. And I’m telling you, I’m going through the catechism. I’m going through the sacraments. I’m going through salvation. I’m going through justification. I’m learning things. I’m really growing in my faith, but it won’t be the biggest part I learned in my faith.

But he actually tells me that God forgives me and that I needed to start learning to forgive myself. And he puts the Eucharist through the gate and I tell him, “Father, I’m not Catholic.” “You’re baptized Catholic.” But he knew the efficacious graces-

Cy Kellett:

Praise God. He did. Yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

… and powers that were inside that, that were going to transform me and make me stronger.

Cy Kellett:

Right.

Erik Tafoya:

Because I was still growing.

Cy Kellett:

Right.

Erik Tafoya:

And I took it, and from that moment I went to a prison, they didn’t give me life. They only gave me 10 years. Rest in peace, Randolph Stevenson, or if he’s still in purgatory, I don’t want to take it away from him. I pray for his soul. But I believe he’s in heaven. I truly believe that and he’s praying for me, and he’s praying for everybody that I’m affecting. Because I can’t make direct amends to him or to his family, but I can make indirect amends and I can make living amends by the people that I touch, by the people that I share the truth of Jesus Christ and the practicing of the Catholic faith with. And so, I go to prison and I’m walking around prison, and everybody’s going to love this. You’re going to love it. So I’m walking around. I don’t see it in here. It used to be in here. I don’t see it.

Cy Kellett:

But anyway.

Erik Tafoya:

But I go walking around and I see an orange book on the wall. And I’m saying, “What is that orange book over there? I see a little life raft on it. Remember, we’re in prison.

Cy Kellett:

Oh, I know the book you’re looking for. I don’t know where that got to. Somebody took it.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah, somebody took it. It was right there. Oh, no there it is, right there.

Cy Kellett:

Oh, there it is.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah. The Catholic Survival Guide by Catholic Answers. Oh, yeah, right here. This was my baby right here for years. It’s everybody from Catholic Answers. We’ve got Carl Keating, we’ve got Scott Hahn, Tim Staples, Karlo Broussard. We have everybody inside here, Trent Horn, Joey Heschmeyer. We can keep naming them forever. But I got to read it and learn how to defend the faith. And I read it every single day. And then I wrote Catholic Answers, and you guys know what you did? Catholic Answers sent me hundreds of books. And then, there was people that would answer our questions on justification, on predestination. And it allowed me to grow into the Catholic who I am today.

Cy Kellett:

Wow.

Erik Tafoya:

And not just coming into the faith in there, but actually bring in six other brothers with me. It was a passion because I knew the truth. And I always say this, if I knew where somebody was giving away a million dollars, I would scream it from the rooftops.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

But what I know in Catholicism, and not just Christianity, I’m talking about Christ saving us. What I know the truth of Christ died on the cross, the merits of Him on the cross and the power of the sacraments efficaciously working in my life now. And it started transforming me, the way I thought, the way I acted. I started combating my flesh, mortifying my flesh.

Cy Kellett:

Right.

Erik Tafoya:

Learning what vices are, but learning how to pick up virtues. I never knew that Saint John of the Cross, the Three Enemies, there was all these things. The Rosary, I remember making one out of a trash bag. My sixty-

Cy Kellett:

Did you really? Tie the knots or something?

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah, we did. We would stretch out the bag and we would tie the knots because they didn’t give us one.

Cy Kellett:

Wow. All right. So I’ve got to get you to help us a little bit because the story, I just thank God so much that we have you here to tell us about His mercy in your life, about His grace in your life. And I’m so happy to hear that you connected to all of the sacraments. Because I really do think many Catholics, there’s a kind of acceptance of the sacraments, but just not a wonder at the fact that they can actually heal you. This burden that you’re carrying, whatever you’re into, those sacraments can heal you. So I’m so grateful that you… It is Jesus, but Jesus has these gifts that He has given us. And so, we have to talk about more than Jesus. We’ve got to talk about the gifts themselves that He gave us.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

So now I want you to help us with how am I going to reach unchurched people? Because maybe she will, but I don’t know if the Virgin Mary is going to talk to everybody outside the church.

Erik Tafoya:

Mm-mm. Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

So how are we going to do it?

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah. You know what I want to talk about? One thing I think before we go into even evangelization or how we’re going to reach the unchurched, we have to go inwards.

Cy Kellett:

Okay.

Erik Tafoya:

So I’m talking about you have to be living out your faith. It is extremely vital. And your evangelization can be extremely ineffective if you’re not living out your faith.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

Because for instance, at work, where do we meet the most unchurched people? We’re at work more than we’re at home. And so, it’s in those moments, not where we’re preaching the gospel, but that we’re living it out so much that my light shines.

Cy Kellett:

Yep.

Erik Tafoya:

That when I see someone who needs help at work, now I’m going to do something with them because I’m going to help them out and help them to be successful. It’s more than that. I’ll tell you this. Living out your faith, it’s a lot more than preaching and teaching. It’s about striving to live out our principles every day. Because the more that we rely on God, the more that we rely on the Holy Spirit, the more it becomes effective.

I almost say that you need to have a personal checklist. This is something that it’s allowed me to live in victory because we have all these tools and instruments. Because you have to look internally and order for God to do something externally in our lives. Because if I’m not right here, then how can I try to help somebody else get right? And so, I do a checklist. This is real quick. I like to point the finger inwards, because when you’re pointing the finger like this towards somebody else.

Cy Kellett:

Oh, yeah. Right.

Erik Tafoya:

There’s three more fingers always pointing at you. So I like to say, “Do you pray the Rosary every day? Do you read the Bible? Are you in mass, if you can, more than once a week?

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

Are you believing that it’s His body, blood, soul, and divinity before you go up there? We have to look internally. Do you serve in church? Do you pray? Do you help others? And one thing that Jesus said that sometimes with some people that we’re trying to evangelize too, fasting is fundamental, and not just during Lent or Advent, please. I’m talking about fasting every Friday and Wednesday throughout the whole year. If you really want to make your evangelization effective, because the unchurched are not just the unbaptized, they’re not just the ones that are not Catholic. But what about the unchurched that are in our church also?

Cy Kellett:

Right.

Erik Tafoya:

We’re an example to them within your family, people who are non-practicing, because that’s the unchurched also, the faithful who are not practicing the faith appropriately. So how are you living out your faith so that you can be that example in church so that you can be an example at home, so that you can be that example at the gym, and you’re not checking out girls. Because if you’re in your faith, you’re not at the gym looking at women’s… You’re not checking them out. You are focused on God. You are focused. And so, people notice that.

Cy Kellett:

That’s right. They do.

Erik Tafoya:

You go by them, you tell them hi. They’re watching you. It’s like a fish tank almost.

Cy Kellett:

Okay. And again, the sacraments are the key to all this, but how many tools the church has to do this for us, to make us a person whose life is evangelical because it’s full of Jesus. You’ve got more for us about how are we going to reach it?

Erik Tafoya:

No, please. The reality of it is, is that we can preach and teach all day. But if you’re not spiritually preparing yourself and saying, “God, I need you.”

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

So when I did my talk yesterday, I spoke to 200 kids, I made sure that I was fasting in the morning. I made sure that I prayed, that I went to Adoration and mass. Why? Because I want Him to be the focal point. Sometimes we want results so much that we forget that we’re not result makers. We’re sowers of seeds.

Cy Kellett:

Yep.

Erik Tafoya:

That is our job to be like Johnny Appleseed, throwing these seeds of hope and encouragement, not just theologically. We have to wait on the theological or the biblical forcing it down their throats. We got to show them that we care about them, because people don’t care how much until you show them how much you care. You can blabber all day long, but unless you’re showing interest in… Maybe you’re at work, for instance. “Hey, that’s your team, the Raiders? Oh, man. My team is the Chargers.” And now you’ve got an engagement. Now this person sees that you like football, or maybe you can catch a hobby that they like, and now you’re opening a door. Because like I said, people don’t care about all the theology I know. They don’t care about all the Bible I know.

 And then, when I open a door now, once I open the door with them and we talk about something similar like hobbies and stuff, now they trust me. Because building rapport and trust is extremely vital to evangelization, especially when we’re talking about on the micro level, when we’re talking about communication between coworkers, between family members, between people at the gym, at school, whatever it may be. So we always got to make sure that we’re allowing ourselves to what? Let our actions reflect what? Love.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

Forgiveness. Serving God, serving others, and living out our faith. By embodying the teachings of the faith, you can effectively demonstrate its relevance and impact. You can. By practicing your faith every single day, not just saying, “I’m Catholic.” It’s easy to say, “I’m Catholic,” go to mass on Sunday and then say, “You know what? I really want to evangelize my family.” But I haven’t read the book or I haven’t helped the needy. I haven’t gone and volunteered at the church, the poor. If I want my evangelization with the unchurched to be effective, I got to make sure that my relationship with the king and the queen are vital and they’re to the most importance that I’m giving more and above and beyond. Because if I want to be effective, all of us, I got to make sure that I’m living in Christ, not just straddling the fence, half of the time for Jesus, half of the time for the world. I’ve got to be, yeah.

Cy Kellett:

That’s the thing, right?

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

I suppose that’s part of getting there, is people do go through that period of straddling. But at some point, choose, pick.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

Because you can’t be effective as a Christian parent or as a Christian evangelist if that straddling is still going on. You’ve just got to let go of the world and cling on to Jesus. All right. So here’s what I’ve got then from you, unless I’m getting it wrong.

Erik Tafoya:

Go for it.

Cy Kellett:

It sounds like the first thing is be a person of integrity who’s really using the tools and the gifts that Jesus has given to be filled with the gospel, really live that life. Two, reach out to people in a way that actually shows them that you care about them.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

Do I have that?

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah. Amen. Amen.

Cy Kellett:

Have you got any more?

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah. No, of course. You know what I want to talk about? One thing is remember your metanoia moment.

Cy Kellett:

Okay.

Erik Tafoya:

Remember that moment? We have to. When we’re trying to evangelize and reach the unchurched, we’ve got to remember that moment that Jesus touched our hearts. I hold onto that moment and I embrace that moment, because every time I’m trying to evangelize somebody and they’re going through something, I have to remember that Jesus pulled me out of that pit.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

I had to remember when I was in my depressions, mental health, addictions, whatever it may be, all of us have it out there, that Jesus pulls us out of the pit from the merits of what He did on the cross for us and through the graces, of course, through the sacraments. But it’s important that we demonstrate compassion. It’s important that we actively demonstrate compassion towards those that are struggling and going through challenges. Because if I want to evangelize the unchurched, if I see my coworker going through something and I don’t even pay attention to him.

Cy Kellett:

Right.

Erik Tafoya:

Then how am I going to be able to open that door of love for him? But if I’m noticing that he’s going through something and I say, “Hey, brother. Are you all right?”

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

Now I’m giving compassion. Now I’m showing that I understand who he is. Even asking him, “Are you married? Do you have kids?” Just little things like that to open that relationship, because until we’re demonstrating compassion, then we’ll never know what people are going through.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

That really strikes me that a lot of what we do is we kind of sit in judgment on other people, even when we don’t intend to do it. And compassion is the thing that gets us past that, about being the person who’s, I don’t know, judging someone else morally or for whatever, for their politics or their beliefs. But compassion is the thing that gets you past all of that and makes it an actual human relationship.

Erik Tafoya:

No, it does. And you know what? And when we see these things offering support, offering assistance, asking people what their aspirations are. Because you’re around work, we’re around people eight hours out of the day, and ask them what their dreams are. Just ask them what they like. Try to build this relationship without any agenda. It can showcase a lot of love and value of the faith that we’re representing, that there’s no agenda. I’m not trying to do this because I’m trying to pull you in. I’m just trying to show love to you because you’re a human being and I know you have a soul, and God loves that soul. So how do I get to that soul without pushing them away? And so, offering support, assistance, and kindness. And genuine care and concern can often speak louder than words and evangelization.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah. Well, okay, I can see that. Yeah. Right. If I just start dropping a lot of Jesus on you, and I’ve never showed any concern or care, that could be the opposite of effective.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

That’s like, “Oh, okay. Another one of you guys.”

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah. It’s like St. Francis said, I like his saying. Well, people tell me St. Francis didn’t say it, so if anybody’s out there listening, I hear you guys. “Preach the gospel at all times. And if necessary, use words.” Because the effectiveness of how I act, how I talk, how I love, how I move, how I serve God, because we’ve been created to worship, serve, know, and love Him. And so, the way I’m serving God should be reflective on who I am. And so, when people say that, they’re like, “Why is he so happy? Why is he always helping others? What’s going on with him that he’s so even when he’s going through things, he’s still praise to God?” We have to be that example. We have to show who we are, because a lot of times in the church, even with myself, okay? I’ve been out for three and a half years, but being fully tattooed and having people be like, “Oh yeah, he had his past hangups.”

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

And so, sometimes people would be leery of me and they would push me away rather than showing compassion and love and asking, “Who are you?” And a lot of people did. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got a lot of people out there that love me and I love a lot of people in the church. But we sometimes can have that hang up, the way a person looks, maybe the look that they have on their face because we don’t know what they’re going through either. Because remember we said the unchurched are the ones that are also in our parishes. Because you can go to mass every Sunday and not really know the love of God. You can go to mass on Sunday and not really participate in the mystery of His love, especially the sacrifice at the altar.

So like I was saying earlier, we get so hung up on results when we should just be sowing seeds. That is the major objective. And building relationships, I know our time’s going around, but building relationships. If you don’t build relationships, who cares what you’re telling me? If I’m around somebody and they’re trying to force-feed me with all this knowledge, I really don’t care. But building relationships, it’s vital to forming genuine connections and relationships with unchurched individuals before delving into theological discussions. Build a relationship, then I can talk about a theological discussion after that, once the rapport and the trust has been developed and built.

Cy Kellett:

Erik, I’m really grateful that you came in, and really grateful that you came in. Because to get to sit and talk with you is just a real privilege. You might not accept me saying this, but I feel like knowing you and hearing you speak, that Jesus has just unleashed a powerhouse on the world. And I’m so grateful for you and for the fact that He did that, that He unleashed you on the world because the world needs it so bad. So God bless you, brother. I’m very, very grateful to get to talk with you.

Erik Tafoya:

God bless you, too. And if you don’t mind, I just wanted to get one more point across. Okay, please. I think this is important.

Cy Kellett:

All right.

Erik Tafoya:

One last one.

Cy Kellett:

One more.

Erik Tafoya:

Let’s just do it. One more. What’s the time right there? I see 33.

Cy Kellett:

No, you’re fine.

Erik Tafoya:

34, just one more point.

Cy Kellett:

Go ahead.

Erik Tafoya:

This is important because you know what? When it comes to evangelization, I believe that you know Tony the Tiger? Frosted Flakes, right?

Cy Kellett:

Of course I know Tony the Tiger. Yes.

Erik Tafoya:

Great. Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

I love my Frosted Flakes. Yes.

Erik Tafoya:

Well, it’s been around for 60 years.

Cy Kellett:

Oh. Yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

The substance hasn’t changed, though. But what changes over time, I think with everything that we do, I see with most of the successful companies and products over the time is that they’ll evolve a little bit. So the substance within the box stays the same. It’s been Tony the Tiger substance, crunchy, sugary, tasty, loving stuff. But the outside of it, as times went on, man, I remember there’s a Tony the Tiger looking like Reggie Jackson. There’s a Tony Tiger that’s really buff. He’s starting to look more modernized. And I think that’s what we have to do with the deposit of faith.

Cy Kellett:

Oh, yes.

Erik Tafoya:

It stays the same, but the delivery, the delivery and the packaging changes. We’re facing against this modern world: the social media, the fast cars, the fast life, the fast movement. So we have to be passionate about our faith. We have to be passionate about the love of Jesus Christ when we’re sharing it, not changing the substance, like I said, but changing the way that we deliver it.

There is a technique that I see used by a lot of people. And so, one technique I’m going to say use, like I said, is Danny Reese, my buddy. He’s a Catholic rapper. He was stabbed, man, I want to say 16, 21 times. I know two different events he was stabbed. But he loves to share salvation and his faith and the sacraments and the rosary and what Jesus has done in his life through Catholic rap.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Erik Tafoya:

And see, the unchurched like Catholic rap. And we’ve been using this technique, not just him, but many other rappers in order to reach that population that likes that music.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah. Oh, I’m so glad. Again, and not be afraid of that.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

We have to not be afraid of the… I love that analogy, too, that the Tony the Tiger, the stuff in the box is exactly the same.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

But that does not… The same package from 1960 or whatever is not going to work. That won’t sell it.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

And we’ve got to keep repackaging it. I suppose that’s why the Lord just keeps calling new people. All the saints are great, but they can’t do what you can do, because you can speak the language of this moment, of these people.

Erik Tafoya:

Yes.

Cy Kellett:

And the fact that you do it, oh man, it’s beautiful. Erik, I’m really grateful. Thank you, again.

Erik Tafoya:

I’m really grateful. Again, I just want to end this last one to everybody out there.

Cy Kellett:

Oh, my gosh. I keep trying to end my own show.

Erik Tafoya:

He wants to end it, but I’m going to give it one more last one, two minutes here. So I want to show you guys how we can take a poetry or a rhyme and show you how it could be edifying. Because I know a lot of times people say, “Well, Catholic rapper, Erik, what are you talking about?” It’s whatever your hobby is: sports, gym, basketball, that’s the way you can evangelize at your capacity.

But there’s a lot of people in the world who like hip hop, so I just want to… In the ring with the devil, ain’t no time to play. With the Rosary in my hands, I kneel down and pray. Bible in my hand, I stand firm on His Word. Sacraments as my shield, Jesus’ voice will be heard. In the battleground of life, darkness tries to devour. But I’m armed with the faith, man, I’ll never cower. With the teachings of the church, I’m ready to fight. In the name of Jesus Christ, I’ll shine His light bright. TUC on the front lines of the spiritual war, with the power of Christ, I’ll settle the score.

Through pray and devotion I’ll always stand tall. Putting my trust in Christ, I’ll never fall. With the armor of God, I step into the fray. Every step that I take, I’m guided His way. The devil may roar, but he’s already beat. By the blood of the lamb, I’ll claim my seat. With the Rosary beads, I count my blessings. In the face of temptation, I’ll make my confessions. The Word of God, my sword and my shield. In His strength, the devil will yield. Amen.

Cy Kellett:

Amen. Amen. All right. Can I end my show now?

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah. Amen.

Cy Kellett:

I have Erik’s permission to end the show. Hey, thank you again, Erik. Thank you very much.

Erik Tafoya:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

Thanks to our listeners. If you want to reach us, you can always send us an email, Focus@Catholic.com. And wherever you’re listening, if you would give us those five stars and a few nice words. Also, check out Traditional Urban Catholic. How do you check it out? If it’s a person like me who doesn’t know where to look for anything, how would I find Traditional Urban Catholic?

Erik Tafoya:

Well, if you go on YouTube and you put @TUC7, you’ll find it on YouTube. You’ll find me also on Instagram.

Cy Kellett:

All right.

Erik Tafoya:

Praise be to God. Thank you.

Cy Kellett:

Well, that’ll do it for us. We’ll see you next time, God willing, right here on Catholic Answers Focus.

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