Every now and then I get a visceral reminder of how much more we Catholics need to learn about our faith.
This is a wonderful term that describes someone who has learned something at one time. Then when confronted with truth and overwhelming evidence contrary to what they have learned, they refuse to accept it. They remain stuck.
It is a defensive strategy, because to accept something different may mess up our own whole world view, our sense of place in the world.
We saw some of that recently. The Pope in his new book wrote about the birth of Jesus; reminding us that we actually don’t know the exact date of his birth, we have the wrong year of his birth, and there were probably NOT cows and sheep in the barn with the Holy Family. People were a little aghast at this. Stephen Colbert did a great take on this.
I have seen it too with the stories of Adam and Eve, with Noah’s ark, Cain and Abel etc. We are taught as children about these stories, taught that they happened. Yet for some reason as adults we don’t really grow into them….we still take them LITERALLY. (SPOILER ALERT) it is like still believing Santa Claus comes down our chimney.
We do not believe in literalism as Catholics. We do believe in the TRUTH of these stories; because they are the Word of God (not not the wordS of God). The TRUTH is not in the words themselves, but underneath them.
When we lock ourselves into literalism, we lose out on the TRUTH. We also lose out on the mystery of the whole world and all of the universe.
Which is a shame because we as Catholics have such a unique perspective on the Universe (we have WAY moved past the Galileo incident). Did you know that one of the astronomers that helped conceive of the Big Bang Theory(not the tv show) was a Catholic Priest?
We have also seen people apply this literalism to what they think are the laws of the church…with devastating results. Some people think they know the law, but they don’t (in my experience).
One of my wishes for the Year of Faith and the New Evangelization is that we as Catholics will be inspired to open ourselves to the mystery and the beauty of our faith. A wish that I have is that we allow ourselves to be challenged!
It is okay for us to be challenged, God did it all the time to the people in the Bible. It brings growth to us as individuals and as a whole.
And in this day and age when there are soooo many tools available to us to be able to expand ourselves, it is almost sinful to not do so.
One of the great times in my life (and distressing) was the movement from what I thought was a truth, to a greater Truth. It was truly a Conversion experience.
I grew so much inwardly at this time. Sometimes I was asking God to slow it down, that it was too much and too fast. God gave me brief respites, every now and then. But it has never stopped. God has changed me, and there is so much more to be changed.
I think God sooo wants us to go deeper a relationship with God. I am sure of it! Yet, it means a dying to old ways, old notions; and allowing ourselves to be raised up to a new level, a new life. Above all the drama.
BUT, we have to let go to what we hold onto so tightly. We have to open ourselves to the mystery.