Recently, while taking a few minutes away from getting ready to celebrate Christmas, I decided to surf the channels on our television to see what was going on around me. If my daughters had been home, they would have made me stop, but I took advantage of their absence. I quickly stopped on a talk show, which I normally avoid in order to avoid yelling at the television. However on that day they were discussing birth control and abortion, so it was like passing a car wreck. I couldn’t help but look, especially when one host said that as a child she was a raised Catholic. I was hooked. My daughters were right, I should not have stopped or looked. I would have been better for not knowing, and my blood pressure would have been much lower.
One host, as they were discussing birth control, began to talk for the Catholic church. She said she was raised Catholic and didn’t understand what the problem was because even the church is ok with birth control. I was appalled, because that is simply not true. This led me to some deep thinking. Well, mostly it was loud yelling at the television, but thinking about a few things too.
First, a Catholics, it is important to know where we are getting our information about the teachings of the Catholic Church. Many would listen to the show I saw, and assume that she must know what she is talking about because she was raised Catholic. Surely she must know everything there is to know. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that I have heard the same host talk about Catholic beliefs, and be completely wrong. So, this lead me to another thought, without yelling at the television.
I am part of a large generation of Catholics that were not well catechized. We were taught while we were young children who didn’t listen well. Our parents brought us to church, but we didn’t discuss faith at home because our faith was personal. This has led to a large group of Catholics who do not know about their own faith, which in turn led to many leaving the church.
Since we can’t turn back the hands of time to go back and learn what we were supposed to, what should we do? Well, I never would propose to be an expert on any topics of theology, but I can share with you what I did. I have hopefully taken the necessary steps to increase my knowledge, as well as my family’s knowledge of their faith.
First, be sure that someone trying to teach you about the Catholic faith actually has the knowledge to teach others. I would start with a parish priest, deacon, or a pastoral minister on staff at your parish. They will be able to answer your questions, or tell you where you can go to find the answers you are seeking. Make sure that when your start your journey you know how in depth you want to learn. You may have simple questions that a priest can answer or, like me, you may have a yearning to know your faith in great depth. I will warn you that this led me to taking theology classes every Saturday for three years and to become certified in pastoral ministry. For me, this wasn’t even enough and I want to continue my education.
Second, after you have your questions answered, pass your knowledge on to your family and others in your parish. I have fostered a love of faith learning in my family. I am absolutely thrilled when they stop me from yelling at the television and ask me to explain it to them. My children have a far better understanding of their faith at their age than I could have imagined. I am proud to have instilled in them the curiosity and love of learning their faith. There are many days that their curiosity leads to a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith for me.
You may want to know why you should think about this now. Many of us are going to make New Year’s resolutions soon. I encourage you with your resolutions to increase your faith. Resolve to take part in a bible study group at your parish, or attend a seminar about a faith topic you want to learn about. Even becoming more actively involved in your parish during the new year will increase your faith knowledge.
As Catholics, we are very fortunate to have a very rich faith history. I can promise that when you start to learn why we believe what we do you will not be disappointed. I am confident in saying you will want to keep learning.
I hope you all had a very blessed and Merry Christmas, and that your New Year brings you the blessings that come along with learning about the wonderful history and teachings we all share as Catholics and fellow Christians.