Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter
July 25, 2023 // Diocese

Theology on Tap in South Bend Offers Reasons to Believe

Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter

“Your soul is stinky.” Four words that Father Andrew Budzinski heard in response to a female friend who inquired about the last time Budzinski went to confession to which he lied and said one year. “And that got me back to confession.”

“I went in and I said, ‘Father forgive me. It’s been over ten years,’” said Budzinski to the priest about the last time since he had been to confession. “And he said, ‘I’ve got nowhere else to be.’ I’ve never forgotten those words. And sure enough, as soon as I went to confession, all of a sudden, I wanted to pray just a little bit more, I wanted to learn about the faith a little bit more. I wanted to go to daily Mass a little bit more, and what the heck, why in the world am I thinking about being a priest? So, it works. It was like a drain had been unplugged and grace could finally flow again.”

This was the opener to “Rescued,” the first talk of the Theology on Tap South Bend lecture. The series theme this summer is “Off Pulpit: Where Spiritual meets Secular.”

Pictured is Father Andrew Budzinski, Pastor of Cathedral Parish of St. Matthew in South Bend, and featured speaker at the Tuesday, July 18, Theology on Tap South Bend Summer Series.

“This was chosen by your young adult planning team,” said Ally Brown, a planning team member, to the visitors assembled. “We worked together over the past few months to plan this series and hope that you enjoy it. Our speakers will unpack the ways that we can understand finances, friendships, and psychology in the light of our Christian faith. So, some kinds of different conversations you might not hear from the pulpit directly. We wanted to bring that to you and see a better way that Christ can fit in these conversations and how those fit into your daily life.”

Father Budzinski based his talk on the recording “We Have Reason to Believe-An Apologetic for the Resurrection” by Father John Riccardo. He finds Father Riccardo’s work inspirational, and he felt this particular podcast fit in perfectly with this lecture topic.

“He points out don’t use critical thinking anymore,” said Father Budzinski about the podcast. “We like things based on feeling, emotion, and impulse. We believe things just because of the way they make us feel and that it suits our preferences. Father John Riccardo is saying we should be looking at what has been revealed to us by God and is there sound reason for believing what is proposed to us and having been revealed by God as something true and real.”  Father Budzinski shared he was a “cradle Catholic” and took all his knowledge about his faith from his parents, teachers, and priests along his faith journey. In the podcast, Father Riccardo suggests that we shouldn’t just believe what is told to us which blows Father Budzinski’s mind being a priest and realizing that’s why he believes what he believes – based on teachings from others.

“It’s not saying that those things are incredible or unbelievable, but rather he’s saying you should believe what you believe because there’s reason,” clarified Father Budzinski.

“So, faith, according to ‘The Catechism of the Catholic Church’ in the glossary section is both a gift of God and a human act by which the believer gives personal adherence to God who invites his response, and freely assents to the whole truth that God has revealed,” noted Father Budzinski. “In other words, it’s not like oh this sounds like a good idea, or this makes sense. No. It’s God has actually revealed things to us, and we can have faith based on really that evidence if you will, those proofs, those facts that God has revealed things to us and that is the reason for our faith.”

Father Budzinski talks about how the podcast goes into an apologetic on the resurrection of Jesus because our entire faith is based on the momentous moment.

“If He really did rise from the dead, then He is who He says He is. And He says He’s the Son of God, and therefore, if He really did rise from the dead, we can believe everything He said and follow everything He’s established. So, did He rise from the dead or not?” noted the podcast according to Father Budzinski. “And I’m sitting there, listening to this, hanging on his every word. I’m like, I believe Jesus rose from the dead, what are you going to tell me that’s new, right? But he does this wonderful thing of appealing to especially the younger minds who don’t really think critically. It’s either, ‘Oh yeah, they said this, and I like it, so I will believe it, or They said this, I don’t like it, so it can’t possibly be true.’ What he’s (Father Riccardo) doing is appealing to reason and critical thinking. He said, okay, the Christian claim is that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. So, there are only two options. He either rose from the dead or He didn’t. Well, how do we determine that? The tomb.”

Father Budzinski discusses with the group how historians have found proof that Jesus Christ did exist, how disciples and enemies wrote about Jesus Christ and His many teachings followed by His crucifixion by Pontius Pilot, death, and burial. All these groups agreed that Jesus Christ died and was buried.

“So, there are only two possibilities – His tomb is either empty or it’s not empty. Well, it has to be empty. Why? Because the enemies of Jesus Christ were trying to stop this talk that He had risen from the dead. And if He in fact still remained buried, all they would have had to do is say, ‘Hey, let’s go over here to the tomb. take a look, and roll back the stone. See the body? Yeah, that’s Him. You can stop this nonsense. He has not risen from the dead.’ But they never did that. Why didn’t they do that? Because the tomb was empty. So, the tomb’s empty. We know that has to be a fact,” noted Father Budzinski.

That now left three possible answers. Either the enemies of Jesus stole the body, His friends stole the body, or He rose from the dead.

“Did His enemies steal the body? No. Why? Going back to the same thing we just talked about. They were trying to put an end to the talk that He had risen from the dead. So, if they had taken the body, they would have just thrown His body out there and going, ‘Hey, look, there’s His body. You can all go home now.’ But they never did that,” shared Father Budzinski. “Okay, so that leaves us with either His friends stole the body or an impossible thing, He rose from the dead. So, let’s just focus on His friends who stole the body. Did His friends steal the body? No. Why? Because they insisted to the end of torture in their very lives that He had risen from the dead and people don’t lose their lives for something they know to be a lie.”

Father Budzinski elaborates on Father Riccardo’s thoughts on why we should believe the disciples by posing the question to one of the audience members about the date of their birthday. The gentleman responded January 21 to which Father Budzinski asked him how he knew. The young man said it was because his parents told him that and he has a birth certificate verifying that date. Through the dialogue, it is decided that parents are trustworthy, credible witnesses and the ultimate reason for believing the information shared.

“So, who are the credible witnesses to Jesus’s resurrection? His disciples. What makes them credible? They are trustworthy. What makes them trustworthy? They’ve demonstrated by their lives that they can be believed. What makes us say the disciples have demonstrated by their lives that they can be believed that Jesus Christ rose from the dead? How they lived their life, and how they gave their life. Peter was crucified upside down. Why? Because he said Jesus rose from the dead. Paul was beheaded. Why? Because he said Jesus was risen from the dead,” said Father Budzinski. “Bartholomew, did any of you know how Bartholomew was martyred? He was skinned alive. Why? Because he was saying Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. Now tell me if you were being skinned alive and your tormentor said all you have to do is stop saying Jesus has risen from the dead and let’s say you stole the body, and he knew it was a lie. Tell me you wouldn’t talk. Of course, we’d talk. You know, my parents told me my birthday is May 11.”

Father Budzinski continued, “You can walk out of this room tonight with more confidence that Jesus Christ rose from the dead than the date of your own birth. I tell this and people say at that point wait a minute, say that again, because they’re mesmerized. They know it to be true. They’re believers, right? But they’ve never had it explained in quite such terms. And I remember when I heard Father Riccardo give this apologetic. I remember at the end of it going thank you. I’ve kind of had, in large part, blind faith. I have staked my life on blind faith, and there was nothing out there really to strongly challenge Jesus’ rising from the dead for me. But when I heard this testimony of his, I went that makes perfect sense. And that’s absolutely true.”   Father Budzinski told the assembled crowd that faith is believing because there’s reason to believe. He invited them to read Father Riccardo’s next book “Rescued” that shares how to spread the good news.

After the talk, visitors were invited to discuss prepared questions in small groups and continue conversations about faith.

Remaining Sessions:

Off Pulpit: Where Spiritual meets Secular

Tuesdays, July 25, Aug. 1, 8, and 15.

Chicory Cafe
114 W 1st St., Mishawaka

6:30 p.m. – Gather/Food

7 p.m. – Talk, Discussion, Q&A

8:30 p.m. – Closing Announcements

Closing Celebration:
August 15th, 5:30 p.m. Mass at St. Matthew Cathedral, 1701 Miami St., South Bend
Closing Party in Cathedral Courtyard following Mass

Visit for more information.

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