Interview done in 2003.
Back in late 1998, I had the great privilege of working at Catholic Answers in San Diego, CA. While there, I became acquainted with one of their apologist Jason Evert. Jason made an incredible impression on me – this twenty-something guy was personable, funny, sweet and handsome, as well as devoutly Catholic and in love with his faith. He didn’t just preach it; he lived it! I haven’t talked to Jason since I left in ’99 to get married so it is an honor to interview him and his (equally sweet) wife Crystalina Padilla. I hope you enjoy getting to know Jason through this interview and if you ever have a chance to see him live, do so! You won’t regret it! -Bobbi
RoL: Hi, Jason. I really appreciate you taking the time to share with us. Why don’t you start off by giving us a little background about your life. Were you always a practicing Catholic or was there a definitive point in your life when you made a change of direction?
Jason: I was raised Catholic. My family would always go to Sunday Mass and say grace before meals but that was pretty much the extent of our spirituality. I began to dig a little deeper probably my junior or senior year in high school when I went through Confirmation. I had a very solid priest and solid youth minister who were both very devoted to Our Lady, to the Pope, and to the Eucharist – those three, in my estimation, are pretty much a grand slam. Because of their spirituality I was greatly influenced to start looking more into why I was Catholic and why I was not some other faith. I started to ask some tough questions and found some answers. I began to fall in love with the faith. So it wasn’t an overnight "St. Paul conversion" experience. It was definitely something gradual that began with the faith and the fervor of this priest and youth minister.
RoL: How did you get involved with Catholic Answers? What’s your main role there?
Jason: I landed an internship with Catholic Answers after I finished my undergraduate work at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. I flew to California and did that for about three months and they invited me to stay onboard. I said I’d love to but I wanted to finish up my Masters. So I went back to school, did my Masters in about ten months and then came back to California. I have been employed by Catholic Answers for about four years now. My role is an apologist, which means any number of things, but basically it’s explaining and defending the faith. My main task in doing this is traveling around with my fiancé Crystalina to different high schools around the country speaking on chastity. I also write for Catholic Answers. A couple books I’ve done is Pure Love, a booklet on chastity and Answering Jehovah Witnesses, which is pretty self-explanatory. A new one coming out is called If You Really Love Me. After that will be Love, Sex, & Babies, which is a little book about NFP. So I write for Catholic Answers, do radio shows, and I speak on chastity.
RoL: With your work as an apologist, how important is it that a person knows their faith well? If someone wanted to learn more about their faith or be able to explain it to others better, where should they start?
Jason: I would say that it is imperative that a person knows their faith. St. Peter tells us in his first letter that we should be prepared to give an explanation, or even a defense, for the hope that is within us. So we need to have reasons for why we believe and not just blindly accept these doctrines that have been passed down from our parents and spoon-fed to us but to really know... why am I not Episcopalian, why am I not Buddhist. Fundamentally, there is only one reason to be Catholic and that’s because it is true. If it is not true then life is too short to be spent on believing pious little fairy tales but if it is true, then the whole world should kneel beside us. So it should be a lifelong endeavor to learn our faith and spread it. If you want to learn your faith a little better I’d say to start off with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Start reading that. Visit such web sites as www.catholic.com or www.jimmyakin.com is another great site. Just start to study up about the questions you might have.
RoL: What do you do to maintain and deepen your relationship with Christ?
Jason: A couple of things…one of them would be morning prayer time, ten minutes in the morning just to be with Christ and talk with Him about the day and give the day to Him. Secondly, I make sure to go to Mass every day of the week. I try to get to the Sacrament of Reconciliation every two weeks and I try to do an hour of Eucharistic Adoration each day. I think those are really the pillars of faith, especially the rosary every day as well. I think if you have your life imbedded in the Sacraments and, as the Pope says, have an intensely Eucharistic life and are devoted to Our Lady then you’ll always stay close to Our Lord.
RoL: As a chastity speaker I know that you work with a lot of teens and people may associate you more with relating to high schoolers. Yet I believe that your message is just as relevant, if not more so, to single Catholics trying to live a chaste life, whether you’re eighteen, twenty-five or thirty-five years old. Any thoughts on that?
Jason: I would say, certainly. The virtue of chastity is not simply for single people. It’s a virtue that must be practiced by the married and by religious because chastity is essentially the proper use of God’s plan for the gift of sex. Because chastity is a virtue, it applies to all of us no matter what age you are or what vocation you are. We are all called to make this total gift of ourselves.
RoL: When I first heard that statement I found it particularly interesting – the concept that chastity doesn’t mean to simply "not have sex". You’ve said that it’s more than what you can or cannot do; rather, it is what you can do and can have.
Jason: Definitely. Abstinence basically means no sex. Chastity, as I explained is a virtue that frees us from the selfish attitude of using other people as objects thus making us capable of authentic human love. It is not a negation of our sexuality. It is not repressing our hormones. It’s basically taking love and overpowering the lust so that we can be truly free. If we can’t say 'no' to sex, then what is our 'yes' even worth?
RoL: An excellent point…but everything in our society – from TV, movies, magazines, etc – seems to tell us that a normal, single, young adult is sexually active. A handsome, intelligent guy in his 20’s or 30’s is almost never portrayed as an emotionally balanced virgin. Yet you are a living example of true manhood…are you blushing yet?
RoL: What words would you share with other guys out there – for I think a male virgin is more ridiculed than a female one – who may feel uncertain or even embarrassed about being a virgin?
Jason: Chastity needs to be rehabilitated nowadays but the fortunate thing is that the tide is turning. The majority of high school students now are virgins. It’s no longer a four-letter word. In fact a lot of high school students are very proud of the fact that they’re virgins. It used to be that if you were having sex and you were sleeping around it was "wow you’ re bad, you’re living on the edge." Now it’s almost boring because it’s so common place. I think women, and even men, long for a better kind of love. We are saturated by sex, we’re not satisfied by much, and sometimes we don’t know what the problem is but virginity is not a curse. It is not a stigma. It’s a gift and we need to return to that sense of virginity being a gift of yourself. There is no greater gift that you could possibly give than that total gift of your body to another.
RoL: I know a couple years back you were struggling with finding the right spouse and knowing where God was leading you. I was so excited to hear that you’re now engaged to Crystalina.
Jason: Thank you.
RoL: What was it that most attracted you to Crystalina and how did you know that she was the one God had chosen for you?
Jason: When I first saw her she offered me a piece of pizza so I knew she was a keeper because she’d feed me well. (Laughter.) Actually no, we met in the Bahamas at a chastity conference and we immediately hit it off. We both had a passion to spread the message of chastity and she really was pure. She was living a sacramental life. It wasn’t one of those relationships where you have to hope and pray that you could fix the other person and bring them into the faith and convert them and make a project out of them. It was one where God had really prepared us for each other. She, and I, had taken a break from dating for years before we met, just to sort of sit still and say, "Lord what is it that you have in mind for me?" We wanted to do His work unreservedly; instead of jumping from relationship to relationship. I think once we really did that, that is when He brought us to each other.
RoL: My sister went to a chastity talk you and Crystalina were giving awhile back and she was telling me some amazing Catholic love stories. Would you mind sharing some of them with us?
Jason: One is of a fourteen year old girl that I know of who fell out of bed in the middle of the night and freaked out and said, "Oh, I really need to pray for my future husband." So she got on the floor and prayed for her future husband. Ten years later me the guy, fell in love, got married, and said to him, "Honey, I prayed for you one night." He said, "Well thanks." But she wanted to figure out when it was so she opened her diary and found the exact day and said, "Look there it is. That is the night I prayed for you." He opened up his journal and flipped to the exact same day, because he had kept a record of his life back them as well. He was a veteran and had fought in the war. He said to her, "Honey, that was the night when the enemy troops came across our lines. They slaughtered almost every man in my platoon but they spared me. So thank you for your prayers." That is a little love story about the power of prayer.
RoL: Do you have any last comments about your new book or do you want to give us your two cents about your favorite things in life?
Jason: My new book will be out in March. It’s called If You Really Loved Me. It’s available at www.catholic.com and it is the 100 top questions teens have on dating, relationships and sexual purity. And two cents on my favorite things in life…I love living down here in San Diego and surfing in my free time, whenever I do get that, and that’s about that. But my last comment would be – the peace and joy that comes form chastity is worth more than all of the pleasures of the world.
RoL: Thanks so much for your time. It’s great to hear from you again, Jason. Our prayers are with you and Crystalina and your work!
Jason: Thank you. God bless you and what you’re doing!