Where to Seek the Truth (Part I of II)

Where to Seek the Truth
Part I of II

Dear Father John, I want to learn more about God but I don’t know how to tell good teaching from bad. Where can I find out the truth?

That’s a very good question and I would like to begin by quoting from something that St. John Paul II wrote in the first year of his papacy:

The Church wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life, with the power of the truth about man and the world that is contained in the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption, and with the power of the love that is radiated by that truth. —St. John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, 4 March 1979, paragraph 13.

HEALTHY CHRISTIANS EXPERIENCE an avid yearning to learn more about God and how to live more and more in communion with him, just as healthy babies experience a driving hunger for the food that will enable them to grow. In different seasons of life, however, and for different reasons, the yearning itself can diminish, or we can silence it by focusing on less taxing or seemingly more practical aspects of following Christ. We need to keep an eye out for that. Loving God with all our minds means constantly seeking to get to know him better. When our knowledge of him becomes stale, our love, too, will become stale. We live in a fallen world, and growing in spiritual maturity requires intentionally swimming against that fallen world’s current. As soon as we stop, worldliness carries us backwards. This is why St. Paul encouraged the Christians in Rome, who had already received the gift of faith and the Holy Spirit, to continue seeking the renewal of their minds:

Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

Finding Food

In past ages, getting access to the message of Christ often required heroic efforts. Copies of the Bible were few, precious, and highly protected. And the vast majority of the population lacked enough education to be able to read the sacred Scriptures even if they had been more widely available. The faith was passed on largely through preaching and teaching, through the liturgical celebrations and the liturgical calendar (which often dictated the civil calendar), through the witness of consecrated men and women, and through local traditions. Even in difficult circumstances, however, God is still God, and the Holy Spirit has always found ways to instruct those who choose to make seeking a deeper knowledge of Christ and his kingdom a high priority–every era has its saints.

In post-modern times, the situation is different. Instead of a shortage of information, we have a glut of it. We are caught in a lava flow of information. We could spend all our waking hours reading, listening to, and watching the billions and billions of bytes that form the fluid and multimedia Internet library at our fingertips. Our problem isn’t finding sources that can deepen our knowledge of God and his revelation; our problem is choosing which ones to use, and following through with the decision to use them.

Editor’s Notes:

Art: Holy Spirit Detail from “Chair of Saint Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica“, 03 05 2008, Sergey Smirnov, CCA-SA, Wikimedia Commons.

About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller “Inside the Passion”–the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: “The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer”. He has also published four other titles: “Seeking First the Kingdom”, “Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions”, “Meditations for Mothers”, and “A Guide to Christian Meditation”. Fr. John currently splits his time between Rome and Rhode Island, where he teaches theology as an adjunct professor at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum and at Mater Ecclesia College. He is also continuing his writing apostolate with online retreats at www.RCSpirituality.org and questions and answers on the spiritual life at www.RCSpiritualDirection.com. FATHER JOHN’S BOOKS include: “The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer”, “Inside the Passion”–The Only Authorized Insiders View of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, “Meditations for Mothers”, and “A Guide to Christian Meditation”.

This article is reprinted with permission from our friends at Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction.

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