One of the things that struck me when I recommitted to my faith some years ago was just how little I actually knew about it! Catholicism is full of amazing teachings, inspiring saints and incredible ritual and symbolism. As a cradle Catholic who went to Catholic school for twelve years, I wasn’t completely ignorant but the more I started to dig, the more I realized that I was barely scratching the surface! My Type A personality quickly kicked in and I found myself on a mission to learn as much as I could and as quickly as I could.
What was the point?
I dove into a variety of websites, books and podcasts and I soon became overwhelmed. For example, I would read an article about a devotion I wasn’t familiar with which contained a reference to a saint I didn’t know. Researching that saint led me to an interesting historical piece about Catholicism in the 4th century. After finishing that, I didn’t have time to reflect on the devotion that started me down this rabbit hole! This activity would be awesome if I could spend all of my time engaging in it. But I have a family and a job, and I can’t just walk away from it all and immerse myself in study. I started to feel like a bad Catholic. My desire to learn more about my faith started feeling like an impossible task that I was undertaking out of guilt rather than out of love for God. I made the mistake of thinking that how much information I possessed was indicative of the condition of my soul and felt inadequate when I didn’t think I possessed enough. The irony was that even though I was consuming more information, I didn’t feel like my relationship with God was growing. I had to put on the brakes and pray about what I was doing.
Accomplishing more with less
Thankfully, God reminded me that He gave me this life. He called me to the vocations I have with family and work knowing full well that I would not have time to be a scholar, at least not in this season of my life. God knows how well I love Him and others. It isn’t dependent on how many saints I can quote or how much of the Catechism I can rattle off. Certainly, gaining knowledge enriches my faith life and helps me to more fully embrace Catholicism but I’m accepting that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. I also fully believe that we must be educated in our faith in order to evangelize and defend it when necessary, but I trust the Holy Spirit will make sure I’m prepared. I now regard learning as an act of love to help me know God and understand his will in my life. I may read less, but I spend more time meditating on what I’ve read and talking to God about how I can implement the lesson. When I see articles online that interests me, I save them and dedicate time in adoration reading and praying. I became involved in a small faith community where we take turns sharing interesting things we’ve learned which is a great introduction to a variety of topics. Finally, I keep a running list of subjects I want to explore more thoroughly, eventually.
We do need to know about our faith in order to live it and spread it. It’s a great idea to devote some time each week for that purpose– just don’t make the same mistakes I did! God is calling each of us to know Him intimately and give ourselves to Him completely. His word and the words of others can help us accomplish this as long as we keep that goal in view and fix our gaze on Jesus.