Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Why punish myself?

Maybe "self-mortification" is a better word. Or "reparation", as a wonderful group of nuns would be wont to say.

Either way, entering graduate school is going to involve sacrifice. For myself, as well as my wife (who will no doubt pine over every minute of my absence while at class!). But as the saying goes, "no pain, no gain".

There was a time in my life (actually two times, to be exact) when my faith endured a severe trial. How was I, a regular schmuck from the 20th century, to know whether in fact this story about some guy named Jesus 2000 years ago was really true??? I mean, it's a really nice story and all, but that alone doesn't make it true, even if most of my acquaintances happen to believe it. Plus, some of the claims are really quite extraordinary. But if it didn't happen, well then what?? As St. Paul himself says:
If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. (1 Cor 15:14)
Frankly, even if belief in Christ was useful in helping me to be a better person, I didn't want to base my life on a fairy tale. Either it happened, or it didn't, and I wanted to find out. Once I found out, then I would have to respond accordingly.

Long story short, after some historical investigation, I became convinced of the reliability of the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life. With this in place, then I could really trust what they had to say. Of course with it came the responsibility to try to follow Christ's teachings. But the good news was that I had the rest of my life to immerse myself in 2000 years of Christian reflection and try to ever more conform my life to Christ.

Participating in the Catholic Studies program at the University of St. Thomas thus only served to whet my appetite. It seems the more I learn about my faith and its rich tradition, the more I want to learn. St. Augustine is famous for teaching "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." For me, learning more helps me, first of all, to grow closer to Christ, and second, to better share the faith with others.

My wife Joy graduated from the Institute for Pastoral Theology in 2003. Throughout our entire courtship she was attending the program. It was ample time for me to become exposed to the curriculum, and to see the wonderful effect that the program had in her personal life, and how she is now a wonderful evangelist for Christ.

That is my motivation for embarking upon this journey. St. Thomas Aquinas (patron saint of students) pray for me!


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