Pope Benedict XVI recently exhorted Catholic youth around the globe to study the catechism, to “know” their faith.
“You must know what you believe,” he says in a foreword to a new youth catechism, YOUCAT, prepared ahead of World Youth Day in Madrid this August, according to the news agency Zenit.
“You must know your faith with the same precision with which a specialist in information technology knows the working system of a computer; you must know it as a musi-cian knows his piece; yes, you must be much more profoundly rooted in the faith of the generation of your parents, to be able to resist forcefully and with determination the challenges and temptations of this time.”
That emphasis on taking your faith as seriously as your profession or as development of a talent is pretty striking. It reminds me a little of what a priest-blogger said, somewhat bemusedly, after the recent Super Bowl: “Would that more Catholics had the same dedication to the Mass and the Church that true football fans have for the game. ... Would too that all priests and religious had the same sacrificial dedication that football players have.”
Sometimes we overlook the role of study in the life of faith. I’ve even come across some Catholics who appear to fear that “knowledge” (whether of Scripture or doctrine, sacramental theology or Church history) can serve as a distraction from what’s really important: a prayerful and living encounter with Jesus Christ.
But, of course, that is a false dichotomy. You cannot love what you do not know; and when you love someone, you want to know more about that person. It is a cycle that really never ends.
Even into and through adulthood. The pope’s words were directed at youth, but they could just as easily be applied to Catholics of all ages.
“Study ... with passion and perseverance!” he said. “Sacrifice your time for it! ... Remain in dialogue on your faith.”
And in this month of February, annually dedicated to the Catholic press, I cannot help but point out that one important means of remaining in dialogue with one’s faith is to take time for Catholic media, whether television, radio, magazines or, yes, newspapers like OSV Newsweekly. There are few better ways to be helped to think consistently like a Catholic; to see the world informed by revelation, tradition and the wisdom of some of the greatest minds in the history of the world. And then to go out and help transform the world from within.
Of course, if you are reading this, you don’t need to read this. As we approach our 100th anniversary, and as we remain America’s largest independent Catholic newspaper, I’d like to thank you again for your loyal readership. Please don’t hesitate to spread the word!
And, as always, I look forward to hearing from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.