Sunday, July 5, 2009

If you don't know what you believe, then how is it belief?

Many people profess to being Catholic. But, if you were to ask those Catholics what they believe, they might not be able to tell you. They know in their hearts that what they practice is real and will demonstrate their love of God through their holy actions, but they may not be able to explain why they believe what they believe. My pastor, in his homily today, said, "it is necessary for us to awaken our own desire to know our faith better, to understand the teachings and implications of what we are called to believe. Only then can we be credible witnesses of Christ in and out of season." I whole heartedly agree. If we don't know God, then how can we really LOVE Him? Haven't you ever heard the saying, "to know me is to love me?" The same holds true for the One who loved us first and loves us best. God even tells us this in Proverbs: "It is not good for a man to be without knowledge, and he who makes haste with his feet misses the way." (Prov 19:2 RSV-CE). We are admonished in Sirach that before we are to speak, we are to learn. (Sir 18:19 RSV-CE)

Some may say that love is an emotion (actually, some say love, it is a river but I digress). I say that it is an intellectional decision based on factors we may find, on the surface, attractive, but ultimately are grounded firmly in truth. Think back on a time that you were absolutely "in love" with someone. Didn't you want to know EVERYTHING about that person? The same is true for God. If we are to love Him, we are to know as much as we can about Him. Getting to know the Lord seems daunting: Where do we look, where do we turn? But, it's really VERY easy. Though God speaks to us in whispers when our hearts are still, his voice actually thunders in the book of his Word. The fundamental things we need to know are contained in that divinely inspired collection of books. Right now, you may be thinking..."But, how do we know what the things in the Bible mean? It all seems so confusing." That's where Holy-Spirit-guided human intervention is helpful. First and foremost, read what the leaders of the Church (the saints, Church doctors, popes) throughout the ages have had to say about Scripture and its interpretation. Second, don't just go on autopilot during Mass every Sunday. Our priests do a fine job of explaining the Word during the homillies. Third, take classes through your parish or diocese. Fourth, go to RCIA classes. And, last but not least, the more adventurous should enroll in a Master's of Biblical Theology (like the program available at John Paul the Great Catholic University

Be prepared, though. Once you begin getting to know God, your life will NEVER be the same!

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