Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Perhaps the reason some people find more solace in science over religion is because science is understood in some circles to deal with fact or the finding of truth while faith and religion is largely about conjecture and opinion.

Popular science has its ups and downs of course. Oleo, the once touted miracle replacement for the dangers of butter is now considered one of the worst things you can put in your body. Wine and dark chocolate are now good for you. And being skinny is no longer healthy nor a preventative from certain diseases and in fact may not allow you to recover as quickly from certain conditions well. (*sigh*) But at its best, science is a search for truth: to show us how to best live in this world.

In contrast to this the Catholic faith is often seen by many as much more theoretical and that the conclusions drawn from the teachings of the faith nice, but perhaps not facts of living. Those guys in Rome make up some rules for one ideal way of life, but they are not the only way to live.

So a person comes to my office and wants to discuss marriage or their relationships, or what have you and I present the Church’s teaching (I think well and interestingly – but then again, I don’t have to sit through it) and I can see the message in their eyes, “I hear you, I know this, it is nice, but I don’t buy it – at least for me. My kids will darn it! But not me.”

But in fact all the rules and laws and regulations (one of the worst ways to teach the faith by the way – more on that another day) are not ideals thought up by Vatican. They are not the teaching of the Vatican. They are rather mined from Revelation of Jesus Christ. They are discovered and taught, not invented and legislated. They are not the Vatican’s laws but our faith. And it is not taught simply to point a person to an ideal or nice direction, but to provide for them a way to live that is most authentic to their being, that will provide the best way of living in order to bring a person a most satisfying and/or fulfilling life as well as glory in the life to come.

When something in the Catholic Church is taught de fide, it is a discovery of truth, not of largely agreeable conjecture. To live by it is to bring about the greatest good just like living the truths of science (when truth and science are correctly informing each other) to find the right way of living in this world. When one ignores the laws of physics, they do so to their own peril. When one ignores the revelations of Jesus Christ, they do so not only to the detriment in their life on earth, but also in the life to come.

In the end it is not about making God happier (He can’t be happier) or winning people over to our side (it’s not about winning), but helping everyone live authentic, well-balanced lives. That is what truth is about.


Anonymous said...

This is not something I would normally share, however, you brought the subject up. I think part of the problem is our Catholic schools and how they teach religion - the same with the CCD (showing my age) classes.

It is right and good to teach about the history, 10 Commandments, Beatitudes - and these should be taught. But what is not taught is HOW to apply these things in everyday life. Talk about touchy subjects like abortion, non-needed surgeries (face lifts, tummy tucks), homosexuality, etc...we have to be able to teach others how to deal with these things. What would you do if.... type situations.

Adrienne said...

In order to apply rules one must first know what the rules are. If a student of mine does not know that a sacrament is a "outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace, we can have no discussion for what that means in their lives.

In my church the lower grades are fed a steady diet of "Jesus loves you, ain't that grand", and by the time I get them in the 7th grade they would just as soon love Jesus over at the local "mega-church" rather than at boring old Mass.

We must have balance with our approach to the teaching of the Catholic faith which includes plain old memorizing of important imformation. That is expected in math, English, and history. Our Catholic faith is no less important.