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Knowing Our Faith

How much do you know about our faith?

How would you quantify how much you know? Would you base it on how many prayers you have memorized? Do you know what all Ten Commandments are? Do you know when to genuflect, bow, sit, and stand at Mass? How much do you know about what’s in the Bible?

Or you measure how much you know about our faith based on what grade you stopped attending Sunday school or Catholic school in?

We certainly memorizes prayers including the Our Father and Hail Mary. We should know the Ten Commandments. However, most of the questions I asked above are about quantity of facts, i.e knowledge. Knowing these things is important but are the facts enough?

Knowledge is important. We need to memorize prayers. We need to know what to do at Mass. We need to know about the Bible. However, it is not just about memorization. Think of it this way, how many gifts of the Holy Spirit are there? The answer is seven. One of the gifts is knowledge. It doesn’t stop there. There are also gifts of understanding and wisdom. This should tell us that knowledge alone is not enough. Knowledge is important. It is how we begin to learn. Yet, to truly know anything, including our faith, we need to grow beyond facts and memorization to questions of meaning? Why do we believe it?

Yet, with our faith, we don’t do well at this. You probably learned the Ten Commandments as a child. Do you know what they mean? Do you know how to apply the commandments to all aspects of your life?

Unfortunately, we tend to think we learn everything we need to about our faith as young children. So, we stop learning. It might be at a certain grade level. Often, it is at Confirmation (unfortunately, sometimes even earlier). We think we have learned what we need to because we think we just need to know the facts and what to do at Mass. I know because this is what happened to me.

Children need to learn the basics. This starts with prayers and facts. As we grow older, we begin to look at why things are. Unfortunately, many stop going to religion classes before then. However, this is precisely when we would start learning what our faith really means for us. Learning about our faith should be a lifelong activity.

Of course, I feel like I might be preaching to the choir. You probably won’t be reading this if you don’t have an interest in learning more about our faith. Perhaps what I write today will help you encourage others to learn more about our faith in God.

Each person has their own level of knowledge and understanding. It’s not just a question of how much but what. For instance, in the evaluations about my recent webinar, Praying With the Trinity, one person said they are learning more than they did in all their years of Catholic school while another person said they learned nothing new. Certainly, I hope people learn new things but probably the two comments that most express what I try to do in the presentations were, “Make me ponder even more about the Trinity” and “I have a much better understanding of the Trinity.”

When we do this, hopefully we grow in understanding and appreciation for what our faith offers.

How do we learn? Traditionally we learned about our Catholic faith in Sunday school or Catholic schools. Often, parents would drop their children off at the beginning and pick them up when it was over, leaving it to the classroom teacher. Now, with online learning, parents can get involved. Parishes are starting to invite the parents to join the children at faith formation activities. Parishes also are more and more offering faith enrichment opportunities for adults. People can go online or read books to learn at their own pace.

However, learning about our faith is not just a matter for the physical classroom or the Internet. Life in general can be the greatest classroom. Life is where we put our faith into practice. Thus, it can be a good place to learn about our faith.

Sunday school or Catholic school should not be the first place we learn about our faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls parents the primary catechists of their children (paragraphs 2223-2226). Why? Because the home should be the first place we see faith in action. It can be saying grace before meals. It can be praying the Rosary together. It includes making weekly attendance at Mass a central part of family life. It can include reading Bible stories to little children. Parents can teach their children to make the Sign of the Cross and to teach them prayers like the Our Father. This is what by “domestic church.” The home should be the first place a little child sees faith in action.

What do you do to learn about your faith?

Parents, how do your children see you put faith into action?

I don’t know if there was anything new for you in this article. This article is more about encouraging you to learn and grow in your relationship with Jesus.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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