Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Never Stop Learning, Especially About Your Faith!

from author, talk-show host, media specialist Teresa Tomeo's monthly newsletter, 9/03/07 http://www.teresatomeo.com/ [sentences in bold represent my emphasis]

It's that time of year again. Labor Day holiday marks the unofficial end of summer break and it's time to go back to school. When we think of school days or getting an education many of us tend to think of kids in grade school or those earning a high school or college degree. I've now come to realize that "education" should never stop. I am not speaking of earning an advanced degree or certificate that will add some alphabet soup to your name. That's all fine and good. What I'm talking about is the willingness to learn more, especially about our faith.

If I've learned anything since coming home to the Catholic Church nearly 15 years ago, it's that I have a lot more to learn. I could spend my entire life studying the lives and the writings of the saints, reading the countless and beautiful Church documents, going over the Catechism, but given the vast volume of material available, I would only be scratching the surface.

I was thinking and praying a lot about this recently after I had a discussion, well more of a debate, with a woman at my local gym. We entered into an exchange after she made some vary disparaging comments about Christians and other conservative politicians who don't practice what they preach. She was referring to the controversy involving the senator who was arrested in June for lewd conduct in a men's bathroom at the Minneapolis airport. I suggested that while this case was certainly disturbing, there are plenty of politicians both conservative and liberal who fall under that category and it wasn't fair of her to claim that it only happens to conservative leaders.

I learned this woman had a lot of disdain for Christians, especially Catholic Christians. She was a fallen away Catholic who also expressed a lot of bitterness about the Church and what she thought the Church taught. She claimed she was "educated" and well read but when I pressed her on whether she was getting her information from Catholic sources or the secular media, she admitted she had not cracked open the Catechism or accessed even one article written by a reputable Catholic outlet. Nor had she taken the time to access on-line some of the documents or statements she had problems with. In addition she was angry at the Vatican for reiterating the statement regarding the "one true Church", but had never bothered to read the short and very clear item, "Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church". We all know that Church documents are easily available from a number of free sources. When I offered her my business card and the opportunity to send her some information so she could read the documents and "educate" herself she threw up her hands and said emphatically "no I am never coming back to the Catholic Church and I don't want any information." So much for being well-read and "educated."

I went away feeling very sad for this woman who claimed to be informed but had built up such resentment without allowing herself to be open to learning the truth. Speaking of learning however, I also walked away with a few valuable lessons. Her initial comments are a stark reminder that we all need to practice what we preach, especially Christians who hold ourselves to a higher standard. Obviously she has been impacted by bad examples of those who claim to be God-fearing. I was also grateful that I had the opportunity to maybe give her at least a little food for thought because I know enough about my faith to explain why I am Catholic and she had little to say after admitting her lack of research.

So as we enter into the school season, let's not leave the learning to only those in the uniforms carrying the books and the backpacks. Instead we should all continue learning how to be better witnesses by learning more about our faith. As a matter of fact, I think I hear a school bell ringing. So let the education continue.

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