Thursday, September 03, 2009

Great Books and Teachers

I try to attend the Catholic Formation series in our parish as much as I can. It is adult catechism at its finest, and in-depth bible study given by our parish priest that always leaves me wanting to learn more about our faith. My classmates are mostly nuns from the four congregations who reside in our neighborhood, and a growing number of lay people. Make that lay women. But still.

I received the handouts and saw the series topic: The Moral Life. Pretty. Heavy. Stuff. Tonight's topic was a concise version of St. Thomas Aquinas' writings on the Seven Basic Human Goods. My background in civil law helped, but only slightly. For I have a confession to make: I have, to this day, refused to read the great philosophers' and thinkers' original works. I have mostly survived on hearsay, actually, for I have been more comfortable reading other writers' interpretations of what the great ones have written. For a lawyer who "always reads the cases in the original", I should be ashamed of myself.

My father has tried to influence me, for he is a product of UST education. He has all the books. I have just picked out the lighter ones from his vast library, and those were mostly fiction. Even my choices in fiction have been influenced by one major standard: entertainment value.

And so I have only read the "Primer for the Catechism of the Catholic Church", but not the real thing. I have read several books about saints, but not their actual writings, except for St. Therese of Liseux. I have read that Social Science II reference book, the title of which escapes me now, the one that comes in two volumes, but not the individual books that comprise it. I am lazy, I know.

Age has caught up on me, and I no longer can afford to wing it. My Bucket List of Books has to be dusted and reviewed.

In many things, I have felt what growing older means. I'm not necessarily wiser, but I now try harder. Reminds me of this passage that was taken from the only "serious" book that I read everyday, the holy bible:

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13: 11-13, NIV)

I do hope to put childish ways behind me, to reason like a woman, to someday "see face to face", to know fully, and to be fully known.

I also need to be more consistent in applying what I read and study to reality. Starting with the lesson for this month, "The Moral Life". I'm glad that my classmates, who are religious, agree with me that it's a tough subject. I thought I was the only one who felt like her nose was bleeding while trying to grasp the subject matter. The nuns smiled at me, and their smile told me that they were one with me in my desire to learn more and my struggle to do so.

How do I make a moral decision? I asked a priest when I was faced with the greatest moral dilemma of my life. He simply said, "Take away your emotions, and then make a moral decision. You can't let your desires rule your life."

I asked the same priest tonight if he was referring to Aquinas' teachings when he gave me that piece of advice. He nodded. I said I still found it difficult. He said, "I never said it was easy."

I cannot take shortcuts anymore. In reading. In life. In decision-making. Time to face the big ones. The great big ones.

Faith, hope and love.

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