To be Deep in History
On Tuesday night, I went to daily Mass. I have been trying to make a point to do this at least once a week now that I have found an evening Mass closeby. This past Tuesday, I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful couple. Early in our conversation, they told me that they had just entered the Church this past Easter. Praise God! I was so excited and so happy for them. The joy of Christ and love of the Church just radiated through them. It was so beautiful and inspiring.
Believe it or not, this was the first time I had spoken to any recent converts about the faith, who were really and truly on fire for the faith. I asked them what it was that brought them into the Church. Their answer? They started reading books. They started getting immersed in history. The more they read and learned, the more thirsty they became. The Mrs. started with C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and it went from there. Her husband recounted a story where as his wife was reading one night, and he was watching a game and eating popcorn, he saw her excitement and wanted to know what the big deal was. She showed him, and sure enough, he caught this fire as well.
I couldn’t help but share with them the quote from John Henry Cardinal Newman when he said, “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.” They wholeheartedly agreed. The more that I learn about the Church, the more that I learn about Her history and what She believes. To be deeply immersed in history is to be truly Catholic. I become more and more of a solid Catholic the more that I study and learn the faith.
As Catholics, there is a very real importance of our studying the faith. As Catholics, we have a specific responsibility to study the faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “Catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life.” It goes on to say that “Catechesis is intimately bound up with the whole of the Church’s life. Not only her geographical extension and numerical increase, but even more her inner growth and correspondence with God’s plan depend essentially on catechesis.”
What does this mean for us? It means that our remaining in relationship with God and His Church depend on it. Successful relationships with our family and friends require that we know one another. We know each other’s life experiences, hopes, dreams, beliefs, likes, dislikes, and so on. People who leave the Church often leave because they do not know Christ or His Church. They do not know the beautiful richness of her history, or what she actually believes and why. They do not know Christ truly and what He hopes for us and for our lives, especially for his hope to us to spend eternal life with Him. They do not really know His love for them.
So, how can we do this? Personal prayer is key. We need to spend time with God in prayer and allow Him to reveal Himself to us there. Break open the Scriptures and let the Lord speak to you on a passage. Do a Bible study. Read the Catechism, or books written by the Saints or other great Catholics. The more that I do this stuff, the more that I thirst for more. I guarantee that you will too. It will fascinate you. When you think you’ve learned a great a number of things, it is then that you will realize how vast and expansive the Church is and that you have barely scratched the surface of what there is to know. God is infinite and so is what there is to learn about Him and from Him.
St. Augustine said, following his conversion, “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!” It is never too late to immerse yourself in the Church and her history, which is always rich with it, yet always relevant.
The Bridegroom waits for us. We cannot be with Him if we to not choose to get to know Him. What are you waiting for? Dive into history, for there you will find a God extremely present at every juncture seeking to lead His people to Himself.