Sunday, June 7, 2009

How to Study Catholic Teachings

Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalm 25:4-5

Jesus Christ proclaimed that “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). The hard thing for many of us is to be willing to embrace the truth once we've discovered it. Often, that takes a lot of courage and patience, especially when we must first overcome our own prejudices and pre-conceived notions before we can lay hold of the truth.

We all need to seek the truth, and God has provided a special way to help us find it in its entirety. The Catholic Church, in spite of its problems and sinful members, comprised of saints and sinners and everyone in between, has been established by God to help us get to heaven. Part of its mission is to teach the truth to everyone.

When Christ had finished His earthly ministry, He did not leave us orphans (John 14:18). He sent the Holy Spirit to guide His Church into all truth (John 16:13). This mission of receiving the truth and then faithfully handing it on to future generations was entrusted to the Church by Jesus Christ. He declared:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

The popular TV personality, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, once said, “It is easy to find truth; it is hard to face it, and harder still to follow it.”

This is because, in addition to discovering the truth, we also must be willing to accept God's gift of the grace of faith (c.f., Ephesians 2:8-9), so that we can embrace the truth.

In other words, we can have all the information at our fingertips, but unless we sincerely ask the Lord to enlighten our hearts with the gift of faith, that information can remain just a pile of useless facts.

“You have exactly the same eyes at night as you have in the day, but you cannot see at night, because you lack the additional light of the sun. So, too, let two minds with identically the same education, the same mental capacities, and the same judgment, look on a Host enthroned on an altar. The one sees bread, the other sees Christ, not, of course, with the eyes of the flesh, but with the eyes of faith . . . The reason for the difference is: one has a light which the other lacks, namely, the light of faith.”

— Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

This site is dedicated to helping you get the facts you want with regard to Catholic teaching and history, as well as to help you find the “eyes of faith” with which to better understand and process those facts.

Of course, the best places to start your study of Catholic teachings (in addition to the many free and easy-to-use resources right here on are Sacred Scripture — we suggest the Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or The Apostolate's Family Catechism™.

Keep in mind that part of the journey toward the fullness of the truth, as God has revealed it, is asking Him to strengthen your faith. As the father of an afflicted boy once cried out to Jesus, “Lord, I believe! Help, thou, my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

As you study the Catholic Church's teachings, practices, and history, you may very well find (as many others have) that there's a lot more there than meets the eye!