November 13, 2010

Ignorance and Immaturity

Many Catholics have trouble defending their faith. What the Church teaches and what we understand it to teach are often different things.
"Catholicism taught that we are saved by faith, by grace, by Christ, however few Catholics understood this. And Protestants taught that true faith necessarily produces good works. The fundamental issue of the Reformation is an argument between the roots and the blossoms on the same flower." - Dr. Peter Kreeft, "Hauled Aboard the Ark"
That doesn't mean the Church is wrong, but it does mean that catechesis is lacking somewhere. If you are a "hunt-and-peck" typist, does that mean your keyboard is defective? No, it means you need to be taught how to type. If your child slides a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into the VCR, is it the machine's fault? No. More importantly, is it the child's fault? Not entirely. We are spiritual children, not acting out our Catholic faith because: A) we have not been truly taught it and, also, B) we are children. We can correct the first problem easily - through good education. The Catechism spells out what the Church truly teaches, and you can read it for free online. If you are just starting to learn your faith, I recommend the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which presents a shorter but still accurate version of the Catechism in a question-and-answer format.

The second problem is that we are spiritual children, spiritually immature. Are we free from judgment because of that immaturity and ignorance? Will they be sufficient defense for our case when we face judgment? Simply, no. We are children, and while children are forgiven for their mistakes, they are also punished for them. Without correction and punishment, there is no learning and the spiritual child never matures.

There is a reason we call God "Father", and it is not just because of our genesis (and Genesis). By making us, God became our Creator. But by adopting us, He became our Father. (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6) God is a father and all a father should be. God guides us - with a gentle touch or a firm shove, depending on our need. He knows when he can let go of the bicycle, even if we're still yelling at him not to.God knows when there is truth to those words many children have heard from a parent - "you could have tried harder" or "you aren't applying yourself".

As children, then, we must rely on God our Father to solve this second problem. We cannot mature on our own, without guidance. In that case, we must be open to guidance and correction. We must be willing to stop talking and listen to God, to say "speak, your servant is listening". (1 Samuel 3:10) The next time you are in a church, kneel for a time before Christ in the Eucharist, say those words to Him, and remain silent. Listen to God speaking in your heart, and you will be surprised.

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