As the academic year and our parish religious education classes have now begun, it is helpful to reflect upon the importance of continuing adult education, especially in matters of faith. For faith should be both trusting and intelligent. In any field we seek to excel at, whether as a profession or an interest, we know that it is important to continue learning and improving. It is certainly true that a person who is of limited intellect can be holy. But to the degree that we have been given intelligence and the ability to learn, we should develop those gifts in the faith at least as much as other fields. We should be like the faithful servants in the parables of the talents and gold coins, who used the abilities that they had been given well, not like the servant who hid his treasure in the ground. See Matt. 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-28.
Understanding our faith better is important for ourselves and for others. For ourselves, it helps us in our prayer and appreciation of the beauty of the faith. As Pope St. John Paul II wrote in his 1998 encyclical Fides et Ratio, “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of the truth.” Thus, for example, we can pray with the Bible better when we understand its background; we can invoke the saints more when we know more about them; and we can appreciate the Mass more fully when we understand its symbolism. Furthermore, we can make decisions better when we understand the background of the faith and wisdom that guides us. And greater learning helps us serve others more, for when we understand the faith more,
we can present it better to those who may have questions. As St. Peter wrote, “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you.” 1 Peter 2:15.
There are many ways in which we can continue growing in the ways of the faith, such as good books, periodicals and online programs, some of which are available through Formed.org, which is free for parishioners of this parish. See the home page for information.
I will also be offering more adult education classes in the fall and winters seasons on American Catholic history and the encyclicals of St. Pope John Paul II. Overall, it is important to take advantage of the many resources we have, and set aside some time each week to understand our faith better so that we can be, as Jesus said, the light of the world, the salt of the earth, and a city set upon a hill. See Matt. 5:13-16.