How many of you would ever consider going to a Doctor that did not keep up on their studies? Did not read the latest journals or attend the latest seminars on the most up to date procedures? Most of us probable would not be very excited to know that our doctor graduated in 1945 and never took another class, never updated themselves.
It is one thing to get that education to earn the degree, but it is also expected that you keep yourself up to speed on what has changed in the world. We expect our Doctors and Tax accountants to do, we expect our educators to do it, but do we expect our priest and lay ministers to do so? Do we ever ask our priest if they are still learning? Do we inquire about our Catechists who are teaching our youth, or our parish music director?
I would have to say no, that most of us do not even consider that as an issue. Most of us assume that the person teaching us about our faith, helping us deepen our faith is someone who is educated, learned and continuing to explore their faith. If you ask me, that is placing a lot of trust in people, who may or may not deserve your trust.
Now I am not suggesting that all lay ministers or even parish staff have degrees in Theology, I for one do not, and I know many great educators who do not. But I am saying that all educators need a foundation to start with and one to build on. I personally am certified as a Catechist in the Archdiocese of Detroit and attend Sacred Heart Major Seminary (when my work schedule permits it). I read books and listen to CD’s and when I hear of a talk coming up, and all the stars are in-line (meaning work and other commitments allow and the topic is of interest) I attend. We have a responsibility to continue our discovery path, to grow and learn all we can. As paid or volunteer staff for our local parish we should expect nothing less than that.
But what about all the pew sitters (and I mean that in a very loving way, without pew sitters there would be no reason for my job within the church), what is required of them. Are they just to show up on Sunday, drop their child of on class night and call it a good week? I think not!
Going back to my example of a Doctor, do you blindly take the Doctors advice, or do you ask questions? I would say most of us ask some questions, maybe not as many as we should, but we ask some. One of the largest web sites out there is WebMD, a sight dedicated to teaching the lay person more about health and wellness. We, for the most part, do not just pop pills in us without knowing the side effects or interactions with other drugs. But we are willing to just except what we are taught in Church or for some, just to reject it. Without as much as a second thought, no research, no clarification of the issue, just taking it on face value.
How sad is that, we as Catholics need to engage our faith on all levels. Attending Sunday Mass is not all that is required of us, we must also be burning with the desire to know more, to learn more, to get closer to God. Once again I am not suggesting that we all attend school for degrees in theology, but we all can attend a bible study or prayer group. Or find a retreat weekend to attend or a lecture series or even listen to CD’s in the car. All are wonderful ways to help us grow in our faith. Just be careful to make sure you are getting true authentic teachings of the Church. Go to a local Catholic book store, or listen to Catholic Radio to find out what is out there. If you choose to surf the web, I would start off with www.catholic.org or www.catholic.com. Both sites are filled with good solid teachings, for a good set of free CD’s go to www.biblechristiansociety.com, they are free, but you will need to pay $1.00 per CD for shipping, but it is well worth it.
We all have a responsibility to keep growing in our faith, and we all have different needs and ways to do this. Try a few things, see what speaks to your heart and soul and then run with it.
p.s. And this Blog site is also a good start, if I do say so myself, even if it makes you just want to prove me wrong, who knows, maybe you will and then we both will learn something new….