Faith & Reason: Presentation Slides

I am so grateful for the amazing turnout for the first session of my new class, “Foundations of Faith,” there were 97 in attendance on Monday night.

For those that weren’t able to make here are the PowerPoint presentation slides. The readings can be found on this page. As the weeks go on, all resources (readings and slides) will be found at this hub.

Faith & Reason: PowerPoint Slides

Faith & Reason: Foundations of Faith Resources

Starting next Monday I will be beginning an adult education course “The Church in the Modern World.” This particular seven session series is titled, “Foundations of Faith.

The first class is Monday October 15, at 6:30 P.M. in Kertz hall at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Jefferson City. The class is open to all adults.

 

The first week’s topic: Faith & Reason

Every week on Wednesday (this time on Monday) I hope to write a short post such as this introducing the topic and providing a .pdf with some readings to look at in advance if you are so inclined. It is by no means necessary to read the packet before the class. If you do have a chance to read it, please come ready with questions. If you can’t make it a given week, or you want to browse through other topics they all we available at this hub.

Faith & Reason: Reading Packet

Each of these packets will contain excerpts from various Church documents. Most of them should be available in their entirety at the Vatican’s web site: www.vatican.va

This week’s excerpts come from the following documents:

  • Sacred Scripture (the Bible)
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • Vatican I, Dei Filius (1870)
  • Vatican II, Dei Verbum (1965)
  • St. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio (1998)
  • Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei (2013)

Lastly a few quick housekeeping notes as they are questions I’ve been asked a lot:

  1. The class is FREE
  2. You DO NOT need to register (though there will be chance to sign up for e-mails)
  3. Catholic teachers of any Catholic school in the Diocese of Jefferson City who are Level III Catechists can count these hours towards their ongoing formation. (There will be a special sign-in form for you to sign)
  4. Permanent deacons of the diocese can likewise count these towards ongoing formation.

See you on Monday!

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions.

On Peter’s Pop Quiz

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This past week when I was visiting classes I noticed that the students are getting to the point in the quarter where they are beginning to take tests and quizzes. Gone are the fun days of August and handball, now it’s time to get to work. In many ways that dynamic is mirrored in Mark’s Gospel today. Last week we heard about Jesus healing and performing miracles. That’s the fun part, everybody loves a good miracle. Today, along the road, things get more difficult, Jesus gives the apostles a, “pop quiz.”

First there is the “multiple choice” part of the quiz. “Who do people say that I am? John the Baptist? Elijah? One of the Prophets? The Christ? Well it looks like Peter did a pretty good job with the multiple choice, he manages an “A” on that part of the quiz. However, on the second part of the quiz, the “short answer” part, he doesn’t do so well. But instead of writing, “F+” at the top of his paper, Jesus writes, “Get behind me Satan!”

Joking with the analogy aside, what does the story reveal to us about our relationship and knowledge with Jesus? By getting the multiple choice right, but not the short answer, he shows us that we all still have more to learn. As my favorite philosopher and theologian says, for every light of knowledge we gain into Christ, there is still an infinitely greater darkness. It’s true for all of us. We all have more to learn about Christ.

In terms of how to learn more about Christ, Jesus gives us a little clue later in the Gospel. He warns Peter that he was thinking “not as God thinks, but as human beings do.” Note, he doesn’t say “not as God memorizes, but as human beings do.” He says, “thinks.” This is why we must do more than just memorize the decades of the Rosary, the Commandments, the Sacraments, and the Beatitudes etc. We must learn to think deeper about these issues.

This is why when I taught high school I told the students, I don’t just want you to learn what the Church teaches, though I obviously want that, I really want you to learn how the Church thinks. I don’t want it to be well Fr. So-and-so said this, but Fr. So-and-So said that. I want you to be able to know what the Church says, and how the Church thinks. This is why they were so excited when I told them on the first day of class I would give them the final exam question. Every student, even me last year, wants to know what’s going to be on the exam. So they were thrilled when I told them I would give it to them up front. Then I told them, their exam would be just one question, “Connect the dots.” In other words, demonstrate how the Church thinks about these different issues and how they are connected by a common reasoning, a consistent way of thinking.

When adults heard about the class, they said they wanted to take it too. So in Columbia I launched an adult education class. I’m happy to announce that starting next month on October 15th, I’ll be launching the class here at IC in Jeff City, “The Church in the Modern World: Foundations of Faith.” This way you too can learn a little more about how to, “think as God thinks, not as humans do.” To that end, don’t worry, you’re not going to have to sit there and listen to me talk for an hour and a half.

For the first half hour or so, we will open up the floor for questions. It won’t be Q & A, but rather Q & Q. That is continuously asking more questions as we attempt to delve deeper into the issues, kind of like peeling back the layers on an onion. In the second half hour, I will present a summary of different Church texts, so you can see what the Church actually teaches about these issues, and not what someone says the Church teaches. In the last half hour, we’ll reopen the discussion to see how the first two parts work together, how it is that the Church attempts to answer some of the questions raised, how the Church thinks about these different issues.

This time around I’m doing seven weeks called, “Foundations of Faith,” with topics or issues chosen together with our parish education commission. In the Winter and Spring, I’ll open it up to everyone to help pick out the topics.

I want to conclude by way of a little bit of a preview of sorts, as the topic the first week will be “Faith and Reason.” I’ve been talking about learning to think, “not as God does, but as human beings do.” It’s important that in hearing that line we don’t create a false dichotomy where on one side there is how God thinks, and on the opposing side, how human beings think. Rather, we believe that human reason is a good. Furthermore, that it is a gift from God. So it isn’t about rejecting reason in the name of God, but rather allowing God, and faith rather to be infused with our reason. To allow them to elevate our reason to its fullest potential. In that way, while we like Peter, may not know everything, passing the multiple choice, but not the short answer, may begin start thinking as God does and not as human beings do.

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Daily Reflection: 18 April 2017

Today’s readings can be found here.

Reflection:

Just like yesterday, today we continue with the resurrection accounts. Comparing today’s scene between Jesus and Mary Magdelene with today’s first reading from Pentecost helps us to better understand the relationship between faith and reason.

In the Gospel, Mary is distraught, so much so that she can’t even recognize Jesus. It is only when he calls her by name that she is able to see him. The way he said her name is what tipped her off that it really was Jesus. This is because she a deeply personal and intimate relationship with Jesus. He desires the same for you and me. What brings her to faith, to believe is a relationship and encounter with Christ.

In the first reading, Peter is preaching to the crowds. These will become some of the first Christians who did not know Jesus personally when he was walking on Earth. What leads them to believe? The testimony of Peter. Specifically it mentions that Peter made many arguments in defense or explanation of Christ. It is because of these arguments, this logic, or reason, that these people come to believe.

We see the crowds, and Mary Magdelene, who both believe in Jesus, but from different perspectives or motives. It is not that one group has faith and the other, reason. They both have faith and reason, as do you and I. It is not an either or, we are called to cultivate both gifts. We can have both a deeply personal and intimate relationship with God, and use our minds to better understand God, the Gospels, and the teachings of the Church. The readings today demonstrate not only our need for both but also different people will come to Christ through different means or motives.

How do I understand the relationship between faith and reason? What do I need to do to cultivate these gifts?

Faith & Reason: Adult Ed Resources – 2 & 9 March 2017

Given that this is the first week of the class, the first part of the session will be dedicated towards setting the stage for the entire course. That is for me to gather information about what it is all of you want to learn and get out of the class, as well as time for me to share my expectations or vision.

However, I don’t want to leave anyone empty handed that first night. So I will spend some time with our first topic, Faith & Reason. That way everyone who comes the first night will at least get a little “taste” of what’s to come in future weeks.

We will continue with the same topic the second week in order to give it a more robust and proper treatment.

Every week on Monday I hope to write a short post such as this introducing the topic and providing a .pdf with some readings to look at in advance if you are so inclined. Though certainly, it will not be necessary at all. If you can’t make it a given week, or you want to browse through other topics they all we available at this hub.

Faith & Reason: Reading Packet

Each of these packets will contain excerpts from various Church documents. All of them should be available in their entirety at the Vatican’s web site: www.vatican.va

This week’s excerpts come from the following documents:

  • Sacred Scripture (the Bible)
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • Vatican I, Dei Filius (1870)
  • Vatican II, Dei Verbum (1965)
  • St. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio (1998)
  • Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei (2013)

In future weeks I may also post other videos or articles on this page as well.

Lastly a few quick housekeeping notes as they are questions I’ve been asked a lot:

  1. The class is FREE
  2. You DO NOT need to register

See you on Thursday!

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions.