In reality, it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear … Christ the Lord, Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of His love, fully reveals man to himself…He, who is the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), is Himself the perfect man who has restored …that likeness to God which had been disfigured ever since the first sin. (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 22)
Years ago, I told an older man that I was working on my Masters. He asked, “In what?”. When I told him Theological Studies, he looked at me with a confused face and said, “What are you doing that for? You are in business, right? How, in the world, are you going to use theology in business? What’s the purpose? Why would you do that?”
Yet, today, different people ask the same questions. They ask, how can you use theology in medicine, in personal finance, in politics, in parenthood, in anything? Inherent in these questions lies a common errant presupposition: since theology and its topics involve spiritual matters, it really has no place in the “real world” – in schools, at places of business, in politics, anywhere where real concrete decisions have to be made and real actions have to be taken publicly or privately. The thought process that flows from this presupposition sounds like this: How can the invisible and immeasurable have anything to say about how we are to live, what we are to do, what choices we should make? If it’s not measurable, it’s opinion. As such, believe what you will, be as spiritual as you would like, but don’t tell me what I should believe. Especially, don’t tell me what I should do based on your opinion, based on your faith.
We find ourselves in the midst of an entire culture that thinks this way. As Catholics, we must be able to provide the answer to our culture. We must because we alone have the answer, We have Jesus – the One who makes the invisible God visible. The starting point of taking back this culture begins within the family. If we cannot provide the answers to our children to the questions posed to me by the older man so many years ago, then we’ll never be able to provide it to the culture. In fact, our children will be the answer to those questions. With that in mind, here are three things every parent should keep in mind:
1. Have Faith & Trust God -
To trust or to believe in God requires that God reveal Himself to us. How else could we come to know Him? We can’t measure Him. We can’t weigh Him. Heck, we can’t see Him – He’s invisible. He must reveal Himself to us. Otherwise, we will be lost; we will be confused. So, God gives us directions, so to speak, so that we can walk by “faith” – specific directions so that we do not blindly and aimlessly wander through this life. He guides us in and through our gifts and talents. He informs us in the correction of a parent. He directs us in the wisdom of a priest in a confessional. He speaks to us in the question of a child. Invisibly, he acts for our benefit in and through the concreteness of our day to day lives. Are we listening? Do we trust Him? Do we have faith?
2. Remember Faith includes Content - The answers to all our longings, questions, and concerns are found in the Truth. Jesus said, “the Truth will set you free”. The doctrines of the Church, the content of the faith, are essential to making every day decisions. The Trinity – God being 1 God in 3 Persons – reveals us to ourselves. The Incarnation – Jesus being 100% God and 100% Man – teaches us something that we need to know in order to live abundant lives. So, study the content of the faith. Interestingly, God didn’t send theology books down from heaven. He didn’t even send the Bible down from heaven. He sent Himself. He didn’t give us directions. He gave Himself. He is the Way. He became one of us. God became man. The invisible God became a visible man – a sacrament, a mystery. Why? Not only to reveal God to us, but also to reveal us to us. He showed us the way by becoming the Way. Study Jesus!
3. Live Comfortably in Mystery – the word mystery comes from the word mysterion translated into Latin as sacramentum – the word from which we get our word sacrament, which is defined as a visible sign of an invisible reality instituted by Christ to confer grace. We live among visible and invisible realities. Heaven is real. So is hell. Angels exist. Jesus’ body, blood, soul and divinity are present in what looks like a cracker. Just because we don’t see something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Remember, St. Paul, in 2 Corinthians, says, “we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). Later, he says, “we walk by faith, not by sight”(2 Corinthians 5:7).
To be Christian means to always keep the invisible, the faith, in front of us while we live our concrete lives in the visible world. The faith is the only thing that makes sense of our lives – our joys, our sorrows, our struggles. To live as Christians, we must be open to mystery and to the uncomfortable realization that we will not fully solve the mystery. In fact, because of this, mystery is exactly what makes life an adventure! With the eyes of faith and a sacramental sense, we continually are uncovering clues of the invisible God at work in our lives, living a mystery. Having a sacramental sense is what awakens our faith. And our faith gives meaning to our concrete circumstances. Our happiness lies in cultivating that sacramental sense, in searching for clues amongst the visible realities to answer the questions that continually confront us (the questions that God has put deep in each of our hearts) – Does God exist? Does He care about me? Why do bad things happen to good people? What happens when I die? Why am I afraid to die? Why am I here? What is the purpose of my life?
By studying theology, we will never fully solve the mystery of God. He is forever infinite. Instead and to our surprise, in asking questions and seeking their answers, we will actually discover the mystery of ourselves and the meaning and purpose of our lives. In fact, only in studying the faith, in studying the Word made flesh – the Invisible One made visible, the One in whom we have faith (in whom we trust) – will we, will anyone, ever know what they ought to do in business, in politics, in parenthood, in anything. In Jesus, and in Him alone, will we find the Way, avoid the confusion that comes from only accepting the measurable as truth, and live full, conscious, and active lives in the “real world”.