It’s time for me to really shake off the lethargy of past sin and run full-speed at actively rebuilding my foundation in Christ. I’ve been thinking this for several months. There are people I want to help, things I want to learn and a wonderful, mysterious God I’m dying to know better.
First things first. I know beyond a doubt that my faith is the inextricable core who I am. But there are things about my faith I do not know, and therefore, I don’t fully know myself. I was so immensely blessed to attend the Catholic school I attended; had I spent my four years anywhere else, I wouldn’t know what the “synoptic Gospels” are (Matthew, Mark, Luke), nor could I differentiate between the cardinal virtues (fortitude, justice, prudence, temperance) and the theological virtues (faith, hope, charity); I couldn’t recite my favorite Scripture verse (or any, for that matter), I wouldn’t even know the correct pronunciation of Saint Augustine—“Uh-GUS-tin,” not “AW-gus-teen,” as one of my favorite Catholic writers, George Weigel, taught me.
These things probably seem trivial. As individual factoids, maybe they are, but the point I’m trying to make is that there is such an endlessly vast world of history, literature, culture and values within the “Catholic difference,” another Weigel-ism, which he uses to describe the unique perspective through which Catholics collectively experience existence. There is an inherent something about our faith that gives Catholics a supernatural tie to the distant past. I’m only eighteen, but by virtue of my Baptism into Christ’s earthly Body, I carry in my blood the rich heritage of Her 2,000 years; by my forefather Abraham’s covenant with God of Israel, and that of Adam before him, I am heir to God’s promises throughout all of salvation history–so are you.
If we are so unfathomably blessed as to comprise His faithful remnant, which, as Catholics, we joyfully proclaim to do, then it is our responsibility to learn the history of our faith. We call ourselves “Catholic” (word derived from the Greek katholikos, meaning “universal”, “whole”) because we are ONE BODY in Christ, undivided by race, gender, ethnicity, age or even era of earthly life. That means that all the Christians from Christ’s time until now, and all the disciples of the future, are our brothers and sisters in Christ, people with whom we share our identity as Catholics. Their history is our history, their Church is our Church.
Having said all that, I return to my original point that attending a Catholic high school taught me a great deal about my faith—but there’s still so much to know. There are things I don’t fully understand, questions in my mind that need answers. I need to know as much as I can about my faith so that I can know what I believe and why. I want so desperately to lead people to Jesus, and that means answering questions and defending teachings. I’m really dying to show people that religion isn’t for the intellectually challenged or for those incapable of independent thought. God gave me brains, but if I want to get through to the smart and stubbornly cynical, I need to study philosophy, science and history in order to counter their arguments.
Long, rambling post, I know, but right now, I feel motivated. I hate the way people think we’re just crawling out from under the rock to accept modern science and evolution, as if faith and intellect are incompatible. I’m going to combine the two and come to better know God through the lens of knowledge and reasoning.