According to Matthew Kelly’s book, sign #2 of a dynamic Catholic is STUDY. This may be the most problematic of all the four signs he discusses.
At the end of the final Narnian chronicle, The Last Battle, Aslan assures the children that they are now in the “real Narnia,” or heaven. Aslan’s words to them are important here: “The term is ended: the holidays have begun.” How many of us feel that “real life” simply doesn’t exist in the context of the drudgery, the burdens, the strivings and failures, the frustrations of “the term”? School means homework, study hall, essays, quizzes, tests, exams, after-school discipline: in a word, sadness. Small tastes of joy occur during lunch and recess—they are harbingers of Christmas or summer vacation. It’s what we live for. So why should “study” be so critical? After all, didn’t I learn everything I need to know in Confirmation class??
Study here means learning more and more about Someone who loves me and Whom I want to love more and more. Imagine someone thinking that all that was needed to be known about a potential life-partner was a Facebook post…
Study means wanting to explore everything about my relationship with Christ, and it means wanting to see what I can learn from others who have had a powerful relationship with Him before me. This means the writings of the saints, especially about prayer and discipleship. It also means learning about all the nuances and aspects of His Word to us in the Scripture. If your spouse says something to you, surely you want to be able to say more than “Yes, dear,” and go back to the TV show or video game…
Some of the greatest saints have been incredible lovers of our Lord: from the back of Matthew Kelly’s book, we see listed Mother Teresa, Francis of Assisi, John Paul II, Therese of Lisieux (the Little Flower), and Ignatius Loyola. Are these people whose example and insights we would want to ignore? Wouldn’t it be good to learn from them and perhaps love our Lord more, as they did?
How and why did they fall in love with Jesus? How and why did they stay in love with Jesus? Therese died in her 20s; Francis, in his 40s. John Paul and Mother Teresa lived into their 80s. Young or old, they remained faithful. Wouldn’t we like to be like them at least a little? How did they do it?
And then, what exactly do we believe, as Catholics? How do we understand the Creeds, and how do we interpret the Bible? We all know evangelicals who want to challenge Catholics at every turn—how prepared are we to respond, quietly yet effectively and confidently? How many younger Catholics drop away from the Church because they cannot respond to these challenges? Often the challenges are worded unfairly, but even so, they must be responded to. [Commercial ad: Dave Armstrong, author of the original
pamphlet “Answers to Top Ten Questions” wrote to me recently and said that, even though he thought I was a bit harsh on him, I did a good job with my own essays on this topic. Check them (and him) out!]
Study—it comes from a Latin verb meaning “to be eager.” Let’s be eager to learn more and more of the One who loves us, and so come to love Him more and more, and so be able to defend Him more and more. It’s all about love, you see.