If you ever see me walking down the street with a very pensive expression on my face...don't stop and say "Hi!" You see, when I am in thinking mode, I kind of go into hermit mode...shutting myself off from the world. It's not that I stop being friendly...or that I stop wanting to talk to people. It's just that I am lost in thought...and a lot of times, these thoughts are the types of thoughts that have been tackled by some of the most genius saints our Church has had to offer these past 2000 odd years. Most of these thoughts are the ones that threaten our commitment to our faith.
We've all had them...those moments where we find ourselves questioning something about our faith. I've had plenty of these moments. I think I have a filing cabinet of intense philosophical questions in my brain that I pull out whenever I have some time on my hands. I have never strayed far from the Catholic Church, regardless of what question I tackled...so don't consider this a post about "how to challenge your faith." Instead, think of it as an exercise...as a manner in which you can challenge your own faith in a way that will make it stronger. People lift weights when they want to muscle up wimpy arms. I tackle philosophical questions to strengthen my wimpy faith.
|Saint George, on the other hand, tackles dragons....|
...because he's badass.
My younger sister, aka the Fool, has often suggested that I get in touch with a padre for some spiritual direction. It has done wonders for her. However, it's not really my thing. Sometimes, when I am really grappling with some extra complex material, I do bring it up during confession...or send an emergency text to a padre. However, most of the times, I end up solving a spiritual question or struggle before I get the chance to follow up on it with a padre. After doing this enough times, I have come to the conclusion that I need to do these things on my own. It may take me a lot more time and a lot more headaches...but I have the brain of a scientist. You can't just tell me the answers. I have to find them myself and think them through so that I understand them...and don't just know them like I know a bunch of Lord of the Rings trivia.
Fortunately, it seems like my method works...as the Fool has come to see. You see, the Fool is currently working on her masters in theology. She's probably read more Church Father texts in the past year than I will ever read in my entire life. Our bookshelves are lined with all sorts of Catholic text goods. She's read at least part of every single book on the shelves, and talking with her will reveal that she is a font of knowledge in all things good and Catholic. Sometimes, on long car rides from North to South Jersey and vice versa, we start talking about God and all matters religious. Certain questions and topics have come up and I have seen that she clearly knows her stuff. Sometimes when I start talking about some conclusion or observation I have made, she ends up referencing some Doctor of the Church, or some other big Catholic figure...and telling me that I have made the same conclusions as this other person...even though I never once picked up any of their books. I have never taken a theology class...but I understand some of the tougher, hardcore Catholic topics she has learned in her classes. It's great for her because I can help her proofread her papers. It's great for me because even though it may be too late for me to choose theology as a field...I am living proof that the Holy Spirit can work wonders when it comes to understanding and strengthening my faith.
I will admit, my method is not for everyone. You can easily pose a question that you are incapable of answering. When this happens, it become increasingly easier for you to fall away from your faith. You can also over think things to the point where you give up and, as a result, abandon your faith. Some of the more seasoned Catholics out there can also attest to how difficult it may become to distinguish good and evil ideas the further you dig into questions of faith. I have had some intense struggles in the past, trying to find the answers to some of the questions that plagued my mind...and have resorted to sending an emergency text here and there (God bless the padres I pester during these theological crises).During these struggles, it is easy to fall into any number of temptations. You can start giving into pride more easily when you think you've made a huge theological breakthrough. You can start giving into doubt more easily when you find yourself unable to find a particular answer. Heck, you can have a theological breakthrough that is not a breakthrough at all...but simply some idea that originated from an evil source (posing to be good in nature). It's tough. It really is tough and risky to delve too deeply. If you dig too deep and are unable to handle a few Balrogs, you can easily endanger your faith (and all of Moria).
To make a long story short, I have thought through quite a few difficult topics in my day and have usually come to the same conclusion as the Catholic Church. As a result, I have come to find that the Church is usually right on everything. I have opposed certain Church teachings in the past because I did not understand these teachings or the reasons for these teachings. Regardless of what great arguments I had to refute these teachings, I often found myself putting my foot in my mouth and realizing how wrong I had been. Don't get me wrong, there are still somethings I am thinking through and I will not post about them until I figure them out. However, there are some topics out there that I would love to post about if anyone is interested in picking my brain.
|Not all of us can defeat Balrogs. Just ask Gandalf.|
With that said, I propose a challenge to you, the reader. I challenge you to give me a question that you have about some element of our faith. I am willing to answer up 3 worthy questions (keep in mind...I do have a busy schedule). I would prefer if you message me your question in private...but will probably answer questions posted in the comments section. I don't always check my comments here, so an email may be your best bet. Please feel free to email any pressing question and I will do my best to answer it. If I am unable to find and answer, I will let you know and do what I can to point you in the right direction. I will not answer every question sent to me (the fall semester is quickly approaching)...so please make sure it's a good question to increase the likelihood that I will answer it! I also reserve the right to not answer a question or even delete a question if I find it to be inappropriate or offensive.
If you are a fellow blogger, feel free to share this challenge with your readers.