Praised be Jesus Christ! How well do you know your Catholic faith? I sure hope the Holy Spirit has given you a faith that seeks deeper understanding. If you’re not regularly reading the Bible or the lives of the saints or going to Mass, then it’s unlikely that you’re growing as God designed you to grow. Coming soon Saint John’s will host its annual Bible Study – have you ever gone to a Bible Study? About the same time our RCIA classes will begin (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) and sometimes Catholics sit in on those sessions to learn more along with the folks who are considering becoming Catholic. Have you ever met someone who was passionate about something? Maybe you once had a teacher who was very sincere and enthusiastic in presenting the subject material – chances are that teacher was an active learner whose passion was fueled by ongoing study. God willing, more of us will get excited about our faith and learn more about it, thus making us of greater service to God and His people. To tease out just how well you know your faith, let’s have a little quiz... 1) Name the first and last books of the Bible, 2) What does the Immaculate Conception celebrate? 3) Who wrote the Acts of the Apostles? 4) Name the three things necessary before receiving Holy Communion, 5) Where are the following to be found: Church Triumphant, Church Suffering, and Church Militant? 6) Which saint was the first to have the stigmata? 7) Name Adam and Eve’s 3 sons, 8) Which Evangelist was also a doctor? 9) Is the Feast of the Assumption a holy day of obligation this year? And 10) How many bishops does it take to consecrate a new bishop? Did you get them all? I promise to post the answers next week. If you aced the quiz, that means you’re a good parishioner! In all seriousness, our Catholic faith is as deep as the ocean and worthy of our attention as we seek to understand more so as live better. Please take advantage of the many opportunities for spiritual growth (have I mentioned signing up for a weekly hour of Adoration at the Saint John Paul II Chapel?!). In closing, I append a sad story about what happens when malformed Catholics attempts to pass on the faith. Thankfully the following story has never happened in our parishes, and that’s thanks to the many catechists, teachers, and volunteers who take their faith formation seriously. One horror story I heard from RCIA concerned a young woman who wanted to convert from Protestantism. I knew this woman - she worked at a local Christian bookstore. I used to go in there and try to get her to come to my RCIA classes; she said she was very interested in Catholicism and wanted to look into it but just wasn't sure. She was very sincere and seemed like somebody who was disinterestedly seeking the truth for its own sake. Well, eventually I stopped running into her after she quit the store, but I later found out that she did indeed decide to respond to the grace God had given her and seek entry into the Catholic Church. She went to the nearest Catholic Church and signed up for classes. After a few RCIA sessions, she began to feel like she wasn't getting anything specifically Catholic out of the class; it was a bunch of generic Christian stuff, like God is a loving God, Jesus forgives, etc. Finally, she asked the instructor, "Why should I specifically be Catholic over any other Christian denomination?" The instructor told her, "That's for you to figure out, not me." She got upset and said, "So you can't give me one reason why I should be Catholic and not go back to my Protestant congregation?" The instructor shook his head and said, "You are thinking too much in terms of black and white and right and wrong. That's not how Catholics think." Disgusted, the woman quit the classes and went back to her Protestant church, where I believe she happily remains to this day.
May God deepen our desire to know Him and to understand the faith that He died to give us !
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin