The more I teach, the more I realize just how much I don’t know and don’t understand. I get an ever-bigger glimpse of just how much I will never know.
Last week, I spent 30 hours with 40 eighth grade students in our Confirmation Boot Camp. You’d think, reading that, that maybe I have a clue about the Catholic Church, the components of our faith, and all that important stuff.
In many ways, you’d be wrong.
This week, we’re talking about the Trinity, and I have to admit: I have no clue. The more I consider it, the more confusing it seems. My three-year-old has an easier time with it than I do.
But Paprocki reminds us that as big as these mysteries are, the Church doesn’t intend for them to keep us away.
We shouldn’t be afraid of doctrine, which is intended to illuminate our understanding of God. Doctrine is not intended for theologians. It’s intended to help everyday people come closer to God through a deeper understanding of the truths that God has revealed to us. The doctrine of the Trinity, then, is not something intended to befuddle us or to be dismissed by us as a mystery never to be understood. In matters of faith, mystery is something that can be “known,” even if not fully understood. We can most definitely know the Trinity, even if we do not fully understand the reality of Three Persons in One God.
I’m nodding like a bobblehead. Every year, facing kids who are equally confused, intrigued, curious, and cynical, I find that it’s possible to light a spark. There’s a longing within us, and that restlessness in our hearts reaches out to it.
The kids have an easier time with these discussions than adults do. In a room of adults, I’ll see hardened faces, people who may have forgotten the wonder of a rainbow, the beauty of a dandelion. My heart goes out to them. Their hope is buried.
But what excites me as a teacher and catechist is to be in front of kids. Even if they should know something and don’t, I can see the possibility there: I can tease the questions out of them and then stand back as they catch sight of our faith.
God’s very essence is loving relationship. When we say that God is love, something we teach to the littlest of children, we are recalling the love that exists between Father, Son ,and Holy Spirit.
It’s a beautiful thing.
And that beauty feeds into so much else, doesn’t it? It’s reflected in our lives and how we live. We can’t help it: it’s in our nature.