Understanding our faith
I had missed my bus to university. Not wanting to be late, I was walking quickly to catch another bus when a young woman caught up with me and started chatting. I told her I was late for a class. She asked, ‘What are you studying?’ Theology, I replied. ‘Hmm’, she said, ‘I’m a Christian and I already know all about God. You do not need to study; the Bible has the answers’.
Some years after that incident, I was going through customs at Sydney airport. The customs officer asked why I was travelling to Australia. I said I was there for a conference. He asked what the conference was about and I said, ‘Theology’. ‘Oh no!’ he said, ‘I don’t want to hear about religion! Go straight through’.
These two reactions are not unusual. When hearing I study/teach/research theology, some people think it is pointless because they already ‘know’ all about it. Others think it meaningless because religion is not important.
The above responses are very different from students who have actually taken the time to study and learn about their faith. Rather than tell you why I think studying our faith is important, I will let some of TCI’s students tell you about their experiences.
‘All of my life, I have engaged in many activities and roles within the Church…what else could I learn? It was a shock and a delightful surprise that there was so much more to learn…’
‘These papers have taught me so much: learning about our wonderful faith, and seeing there is so much more to learn, so much I don’t know…’
‘The Certificate in Catechetical Studies challenges those who already have an understanding of their Catholic faith, while also providing a starting point for those just beginning. This course has encouraged me to delve deeper into my own faith journey.’
As theologian John Cavadini said, we need to espouse ongoing study in our Church unless we wish to find that: ‘We can no longer explain why we resist destroying the environment, why we should oppose abortion and capital punishment, why we should defend the family or workers’ rights, why we believe that evil will not triumph in the end, why the good is worth pursuing no matter what the cost… There will always be saints who cannot explain any of these things, but even saints depend for their ideals on an articulate, intellectual Catholicism that can nurture a culture that will go on generating ideals of heroic virtue.’ (Cavadini, 2004).
The Catholic Institute of Aotearoa New Zealand (TCI) is part of the 2000-year tradition which values exploration and learning about our Catholic faith founded and sustained in Jesus Christ. You too can be part of this wonderful tradition!
Susan Wilson is the eLearning Co-ordinator for The Catholic Institute of Aotearoa New Zealand.