Dive into the Sky
During the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI has encouraged all of us to dive deeper into the faith by coming to a better understanding of the Church. Many Catholics don’t know the importance of truly understanding the faith in order to defend it, love it, and practice it to the fullest.
In a discussion I recently had, I tried to communicate the importance of understanding the Faith in addition to faithful practice and belief. To these “catholics”, the idea of seeking to learn and understand more about the Catholic faith didn’t really seem to be as important as just believing without question. When the topic of ‘why have faith?’ is brought up with them, the “feeling” aspect of faith is made to be a central focus. When I say feeling, I am speaking about emotional feelings. While these things are well and good, how we feel isn’t everything. So often, people don’t treat the Faith as objective truth, but rather as a tradition that they hold to stubbornly, without really knowing why they are even Catholic.
The reasons why we do what we do are not often communicated or taught, especially in this generation. For many “catholics”, practicing the Faith has become routine rather than a heartfelt choice. To others, it is a ritual limited to going to Mass a few times a year with the family, while the rest of the year is spent neglecting the Church. The reasons for why we practice the Faith are all too often forgotten. Do we know the reason? Do we know why we believe in what we believe and do what we do? This can lead us to life’s most profound question ‘Why?’
It’s like this. If a child asks his or her parent why the sky is blue and the parent simply says ‘because that’s the way it is’, that doesn’t leave the child with much to go on and it doesn’t do them any good except to, perhaps, keep them quiet. A parent might respond this way because they don’t know, don’t care to know, or don’t want to bother taking the time to explain the truth. In any case, the child would be much better to know it is because of the way the Earth’s atmosphere scatters light from the sun (Howstuffworks.com). This kind of answer allows for deeper understanding, even if they may not fully understand the concepts right away. There is also an appreciation and a desire to know and learn, rather than simply observe the surface and ignore what makes something what it is.
This uncaring attitude could also be compared to a wife who is only concerned with how her husband looks, who doesn’t really feel the need to know his heart, mind, and spirit. She would not appreciate all the things that he has done – building a roof over her head and a foundation for their home, providing her with food, and devoting his entire body and soul to her. The reasons deep down for why he does all these things for her is because he loves her. If he had to explain himself he would say that he wishes her to be sheltered from the storms, to be healthy in body, mind and spirit, and to feel cared for. He would be faithful to her until the end. Should the wife choose to ignore his efforts, deny his love or simply turn her back on him, not only does she pierce his heart, but she chooses to pull herself away from him.
The Church can never be separated from Christ, but members of the Church so often stray from Him. They refuse the sacraments He instituted, they ignore the Teachings of the Church which come from Him and choose to live out their lives in sin, pushing ever further away from Him.
The truth is, when the wife hurts and dishonors the husband in such a way, it is like when members of the Church dishonor and turn away from God. God has established so much through his Son, Jesus Christ, to care for us all in all the ways we need to be cared for. All of the things that He gives to us or allows us to struggle through are His way of trying to lead us closer to Him.
Christ knows the Church inside and out. He longs for her and all its members. He knows the heart of every person. Christ gave His life for the Church on the cross, because the Church is His bride. The Church’s members therefore should come to know Christ too, by in turn giving their lives to Him, getting to know who He is through prayer, seeking understanding His teachings, loving the sacraments, and by following His example. As Catholics, we are part of His Church and therefore we should know what it means to be a Catholic, and strive to become better follows of Christ.
If someone were to ask why we believe the host actually becomes the consecrated Body and Blood of Jesus, would we be able to answer, or would we simply say ‘because that’s the way it is’? To believe in the Eucharist and accept it as Christ’s flesh and blood is crucial and central to the faith, but so is the understanding of why we believe it.
To say that we are Catholic should not be something we take lightly, or push off to the side. If we are Catholic, we should know our faith, and know what makes us Catholic.
There are still many of us faithful Catholics who try to live out the faith with our lives; who fulfill their obligations, and strive to obey Christ and the Church. It is not always easy, however. There will come days when we will be tested, and respond to the question, “Why do you believe in the Catholic Faith?” This question demands that we must answer with charity, and present the truth with wisdom and understanding. We cannot answer this question properly unless we have sought to understand our Faith. There will be those who will attempt to tear down the Church and attack our Lord. In knowing our faith as best we can, we can defend it against those who speak against it, and we may stand as true followers of Christ. While our human knowledge will always be limited due to our human nature, we must aim to know all we can, so that we be open to the Holy Spirit, and thus be more able to glorify God.
There is no excuse in this day and age for being unable to find information. The Catechism is at our fingertips. The works and writings of Saints are in libraries, bookstores, and some are even available online. We can be questioned at any given moment about our faith. Saying, ‘because that’s the way it is’ isn’t going to cut it. Love the faith enough to understand it and invest time in learning the ‘whys’. Dive into the sky. While we may enjoy its splendid blueness, seek to reach beyond and witness the mysteries beyond just what we see on the ground. Seek to know and understand Christ and His church. To conclude, here’s a quote from Archbishop Fulton Sheen:
True followers of Christ; be prepared to have a world make jokes at your expense. You can hardly expect a world to be more reverent to you than to Our Lord. When it does make fun of your faith, its practices, abstinences, and rituals-then you are moving to a closer identity with Him Who gave us our faith. Under scorn, Our Lord “answered nothing”. The world gets amusement from a Christian who fails to be Christian, but none from his respectful silence.
Posted on January 11, 2013, in Apologetics, Catechism, Catechism in a Year, Catholic, child, Church Corruption and Renewal, Current Events, Devotion, education, Evangelization, faith, Jesus Christ, knowledge, Mass, Orthodoxy, Tradition, wisdom and tagged Catholic, Eucharist, family, god, Jesus, knowledge, life, Mass, Prayer, Truth, Vocation. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.