We are more than half way through the season of Lent and will soon hear the Passion narratives proclaimed at Mass. One of the parts of that reading that sticks out in my mind is the dialogue between Jesus and Pontius Pilate as the Roman procurator attempts to understand why Jesus stands before him in judgment. During the dialogue, Jesus tells Pilate, “Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate’s reply is: “What is truth?”
I have been thinking a lot about “truth” lately, especially as it relates to our Catholic faith. The old joke that “if it’s on the Internet, it must be true” is far from the truth. Information is so easily accessible from the Internet these days but it is difficult to decipher all of the information out there about Catholicism and understand “What is truth?”
I have taken to subscribing to different blogs and email services to receive news and information about the Catholic Church. I want to grow in my faith by learning more and by being introduced to different perspectives and opinions. But the selection process can be a little scary … and dangerous. Sometimes I feel like Goldilocks who finds one source of information, but it is “too hard” (too conservative, too old-school, or too controlling). Other sources are “too soft” (too liberal, too radical in thought, or too egocentric). All I want (like Goldilocks and most Catholics I know) is a bed of information that is “just right.” I want information that is honest, upright and true; free of personal biases and without hidden agendas. I want information that is understandable and that resonates with me and the world I live in. I don’t think that’s egocentric. I just want to be able to relate my Catholicism with my world around me. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t want my faith to be “easy”. I just want it to be informed.
The best source for truth in our faith is Jesus, “the way and the truth and the life” (see John 14:6). We find Jesus’ true teachings in the Bible, in the documents of the Church, and even on the Internet (if we are careful). Here are a few suggestions about finding the “truth” in our Catholic faith:
The Catholic Bible: There are many translations available and you need to remember that not all Bibles are Catholic (i.e., they do not contain all of the books of the Old Testament acknowledged by the Catholic Church). I recommend the New American Bible. It is the translation that you will hear most commonly used in readings at Mass. Then, get to know your Bible. Our Sunday Visitor (www.osv.org) publishes a great product called Faith Charts: Bible at a Glance, a laminated “cheat sheet” that helps you understand what the Bible is, who wrote it, how to read it, and more. Couple that with the footnotes contained in the New American Bible and you’ll have a good leg up on the inspired truth.
Bible Study: The Bible is not meant to be read completely alone. While there is value in reading and reflecting on Bible passages by yourself, there is also great value in “breaking open the Word” in small groups. The priest or deacon should help break open Scripture at each Mass, but don’t limit yourself to listening to homilies each week. Consider joining (or starting) a Bible Study group. My recommendation is that you look for a group that is Catholic based. I know a lot of people who enjoy participating in inter-denominational Bible Study groups. That’s a start. But if you want to grow in your Catholic faith and relate Bible passages to Catholic theology, Catholic doctrine, and Catholic Tradition, you might want to focus on an all-Catholic group.
Daily Prayer and Reflection: I’ve been watching my wife watering and fertilizing her garden plants lately. She knows that the plants need to be “fed” in order to grow in abundance. The same holds true for us in our spiritual life – We have to be fed on a regular basis. Daily Prayer and Reflection is a great way to do this. The best sources I have found for daily prayer and reflection are:
Start with these resources and I think you’ll be on a good path to find the “truth” in our Catholic faith. There are other great resources I’ll share with you at a later time, but this will get you started. And once you’ve invested the time necessary to increase your understanding and knowledge of the Catholic faith, you’ll feel more comfortable in your faith and will be better able to identify those beds of information that are “too hard” or “too soft”.
This Blog Post Copyright Daniel R. Donnelly. All Rights Reserved. http://www.deacondan.com