I am a “cradle Catholic.” I was born and Baptized pretty quickly after in the days when it was considered dangerous to take an unBaptized Baby out into the dangerous world. My father spent time in the seminary as he contemplated becoming a priest. I spent 8 years in CCD, 4 years in a Catholic high school, and got my Bachelor’s Degree from a “Catholic” university. I’ve (almost) always go to church every Sunday and holy day.
I was even youth minister of our local parish for crying out loud!
And yet I know virtually nothing about my Catholic faith.
How can that be?
How can someone be “Catholic” and not know about the depth and richness of our faith? What went wrong in my education? What was my faith based on?
The rules of my parents?
The fact the “everyone was doing it?”
The lack of anything “better?”
Whatever it was, the more I learn now, the more I realize I need to learn more. Here is a list of 10 things I am just beginning to understand about being Catholic.
10 Things I Never Knew About the Catholic Faith:
- I didn’t know the Rosary was actually a meditation on the life of Jesus, each bead representing a moment in His life for us to reflect on, pray about, and share.
- I knew Catholics didn’t worship saints, but I didn’t know how to explain that. I didn’t know that they are called on to pray for us just as we call on our living friends here to pray for us in our our of need.
- I knew the saints are role models, but I never took the time to learn what made them worthy of imitation.
- I knew there were Jesuits and Dominicans and Franciscans and more but didn’t have any idea what the differences were.
- I didn’t know that papal infallibility didn’t mean that the Popes themselves were not infallible, but that the doctrine they teach is infallible.
- I didn’t think about those who believe that the Bible is the only authority got that belief from a fallible person and that therefore that belief may be fallible.
- I didn’t understand the humility and gift confession can be or what a motivator it is to do better next time.
- I didn’t know the peace that comes from Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, from the sitting in silent adoration of the Blessed Eucharist, sharing quiet time with our Lord.
- I had never even given more than a cursory skim through the Bible!
- I never knew that through Jesus’ forgiveness of me, I had the power to forgive daily and to act in Love even when I didn’t want to. I didn’t know what Strength would come from that Power. I didn’t know the power I had waiting in Him.
How could I have not known my Catholic faith?
I can’t explain it, and while I could sit here and point fingers, that would be useless, and I certainly don’t want the saints sitting there and pointing fingers at me one day. I won’t be judged on what I didn’t know.
But I will be judged on what I learn.
And now, I am responsible for educating myself. Sometimes it gets overwhelming. I already have so much to do and don’t know how to put more hours in the day to learn more, but I get motivation and encouragement from converts like Cristina at Filling My Prayer Closet and Melanie Jean Juneau, a veritable walking Catholic encyclopedia (and she posts just the MOST BEAUTIFUL Catholic artwork too!) If these busy, beautiful women came into the Catholic faith knowing nothing, zip, zilch, zero, then I, with my head start, have no excuse for not learning too (Did that come out sounding too competitive? Life with five athletic boys! 😉 ).
And the more I learn, the more I ask God to show me, the more I realize I need to know, NEED to know. It’ like climbing a mountain that keeps growing, but it is a mountain of milk and honey of rainbows and silver lined clouds, of sunshine warming my upturned face and friendly faces at every turn.
It is a climb which, overall, makes me stronger rather than weaker, more excited rather than more frustrated, and gives me something to look forward to each day.
I still have a lot to learn.
I am humbled.
I am proud of all there is to know.
When did you begin to take responsibility for learning about God rather than leaving that responsibility to someone else? What sparked you to take such initiative and what is something you discovered that surprised you?