Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I recently ran into a student of mine as he was hanging out with a group of friends.  He of course really didn't know what to talk about except for something church related, so he pointed out a buddy of his who was a non-denominational looking into the seminary, and had recently thought about converting to Catholicism....  He got his buddy and introduced me, and I was asking him what made him want to convert and this is what he shared.... 

He was in class, and wanted to know more about the roots of his faith, and his professor told him to start reading the church fathers.  So sure enough, he went and picked up writings from St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, and several others.  As he was reading their theological stance that had dated well before the protestant reformation, he began to connect with what they were saying.  He put the dots together of how the church came to be.  From the first Christians, their understanding of the Eucharist, their practices of the first "churches" and the theology that came both from Jesus, His teachings, and the interpretation of the first Christians as they began to put the teachings into a practice. 

As he read further, he began to put it all together - first Christians to church fathers to Catholic Church then after several hundreds of years, a split where new ideas contrary to the beliefs of the Church fathers, and new beliefs that excluded the church fathers and the first Christians and went back to starting from scratch.After making these connections of the Eucharist, theology of salvation, liturgy and all the sacraments, he realized the Catholic Churches sense of seeking the truth and outlining it with everything they believe to be true. 

It's not about the show, its not about getting more members, its not about making money, its not about being modern.  The church is about the truth, providing the truth, and celebrating the faith of our ancestors in the way they practiced their faith. 

This morning, I was outside working in my yard thinking of how much I enjoyed nature and just being outside.  I was thinking about our Adventure trip to Colorado we have coming up, and how much I enjoy nature.  I connect with the Lord best when I'm surrounded by his creation of trees, mountains, rivers, rocks, wind and sky.  So I thought about this concept that might be relevant...

If someone wants to be a REAL naturalist - I mean someone who is striving to be in nature, with nature, and holistically living naturally - there has to be a connection made.  I think within all of us, there is a calling to be surrounded by God's Creation.  Its a way we connect with him.  So - while making these connections, we may think we want to go live in the woods and just study nature and be immersed in it.  I would absolutely love that! 

The question is....  does that make us a complete naturalist?  Does that make us REALLY understand nature?  If we were to spend 3 months living in a tent, sleeping in the woods and learning everything there is to learn about the things around us... would that make us be all knowing, and all natural?  I think it would in many senses!  Absolutely without any question would that take us deeper into who God is,and how he reveals himself through the natural world.  Even then, the question, is would we know everything there is to know about nature?  I would say no.  What makes the green plant green?  Would we know that from watching the green plant grow?  Where does the wind come from?  Where does the rain come from?  Would we learn that just by sitting out in the woods?  For a few thousand years, people lived on the Earth and didn't realize it was round until the 1400's.... There is only so much we can actually know without the study of science, and without YEARS of study. 

What if the most brilliant scientist wrong a novel explaining everything he could possibly know about science.... Would that give us everything?  No!  There are still things yet to be discovered, explored and most importantly - understood. 

I think the Catholic Church and the protestant church could be compared in this way.  I relate to the protestant church as the individuals who want to "get back to nature" - get to the heart of things and truly experience it in a way that is real, hands on, and develop that personal connection.  Sometimes, just excluding the science of nature - the several thousands of years of study, discovery and understanding and just living in the glorious moment.  It truly is a beautiful thing!  I love those connections we make while on the "camping trip" but I also love knowing why there is sand amongst the rocks, and what is happening when lightning strikes.  I prefer taking all I can possibly know through years of scientific discovery, and then my experience in the camping trip has much more depth. 

Our Catholic faith spans over 2000 years.  Jesus Christ first, then the first Christians who recorded their experience with Jesus, the first Christians who took Jesus' teachings and put them into practice, the Church fathers who developed a theology around those things which couldn't be explained yet were questions raised by the first Christians, and the Popes, Bishops, Priests and lay ministers who have continued to grow, teach and further the understanding of the Church in the modern world. 

I love my faith as a Catholic, and I love that it isn't just based on one aspect but rather a few hundred of years of theological exploration.  

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