Many people believe that to be a Catholic is to check your intellect at the door. You are no longer allowed to think and you must never question the Church's teaching. And unfortunately, they partially get that idea from Catholics themselves who often know very little about what they believe or why.
But to blindly accept what we are told as true has never been the Catholic way. We believe that man is created in God's image and is thus rational and intellectual. We have been given the gift of higher thinking and we are called to use that gift to discover him, his truth, and his creation. God wants us to ask questions - really critical questions like, "why do I exist? Why does anything exist? What happens after this life? Why does the Church say that?".
The Catholic Church has a rich legacy of profound thinkers who pondered and questioned the tenants of our faith - think St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Thomas Aquinas, or G.K. Chesterton (just to name a few). Over the past two-thousand years much has been written or recorded regarding practically every question you could ever think of on the faith. And in 1992, Pope Saint John Paul II approved the Catechism of the Catholic Church which summarizes what has been revealed through Scripture, Tradition, and Divine Inspiration and explains why the Catholic Church believes what she does. We have so many thought-provoking resources at our fingertips, if only we take the time to access them. And we need to. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once said, "You need to know your faith with the same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer. You need to understand it like a good musician knows the piece he is playing". Why? Two reasons:
First, so that you can know God. When you fall in love with someone, you want to know everything about him or her. You ask questions about their life, their interests, their goals...every detail is relevant. And the more you come to intimately know each other, the deeper your love for one another becomes. The same is true with God. As we contemplate the big questions in life or research specific church teaching, we open our spirit up to hearing from God and open our hearts for conversion. As we grapple with subjects that are often very complex and mysterious, we begin to appreciate God's awe-inspiring nature and the depth of his love for us. And this greater understanding and closeness with the sole source of truth, joy, and love actually transforms us.
Which brings us to the second reason, which is -
So that you can introduce Him to others
This deep knowledge of our faith is an essential component of evangelism. As we are transformed by our time contemplating God, our lives and actions become testaments to our faith. Others should see how we persist in hope during tumultuous times and find the energy to tend to those in need, and they should want to have what we have. And then, when they ask us questions about the faith which has so changed us, we should have answers. We should be able to explain to them what we believe and why so that they can take their first steps in knowing God themselves.
Jesus told us, "ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find". God is eager to reveal truth, the beauty of his creation, and the depths of his love, if only we will open our hearts to Him.
Ready to get started? Order the Catechism of the Catholic Church or quickly browse online for free