Stewardship: A Way of Life

Stewardship: A Way of Life

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Recently, our Amy’s Book Club read the exceptional book– EDUCATED  By Tara Westover. It was the story of a young girl growing up in the mountains of Idaho, one of 7 siblings, a mother who was a midwife and herbalist, and a father who was bipolar, a fanatical Mormon, owner of a junk yard, and believed the world was going to end soon and so kept his family isolated on the mountain as they were going to be the only ones to survive. He didn’t believe in  anything public, like schools, government, or medical doctors, hospitals, etc. Home schooling was what you did to yourself. Tara’s journey was extraordinary and she did it herself.  Many questions were raised, some answered.  But the question posed to us Catholics is not one dealt with in this book or in most books of like subjects.

A question to consider is why do so many people who have different religious affiliations know the Bible so well and most Catholics don’t. We know the stories  and the lessons Jesus was teaching from Mass. However, few of us can site book and verse. When I grew up, we did not have a Bible in the house as my parents believed that only priests, nuns, and theologians could understand it, We ‘ordinary’ folk could not. My religious education came at St. Joseph’s Sunday School where we focused on the Baltimore Catechism. From this teaching we concentrated on memorizing prayers and learning the rules of the church and the holidays which required additional Mass attendance. I am sure the Bible must have been mentioned, but I don’t remember any extended concentration of it. It took years for me to learn about the Old and New Testaments: before Jesus and after Jesus came into this world and how the books are so interrelated. Also I listened but did not make the connection that the first reading at Mass is from the Old Testament and the second reading is always from the New Testament. I did not go to Catholic schools until college. Even then the Mass and attending it was a high lite of school (in Latin). There was a concentration in developing spirituality and a learning of the necessity of having God woven into your daily life. Still an assumption was made that we understood the Bible and what it taught. I always felt that this process was like teaching you to read without first knowing anything about the alphabet. Enough about me. Why don’t we know how to recite the Bible verses and where they come from and from whom?

Tara’s father read the ‘Bible’ to his children every night and then some. He threw in quite a few of his own ideas explaining the holy readings. But that is the book that Tara used to teach herself how to read. Families who know the Bible are ones who have read it religiously. Many other churches use the Bible very differently than we do, from my discussions with others. The Bible is often introduced at length to even the youngest and it continues as the children grow up. I remember many of my non Catholic friends getting a Bible as a reward  for something well done at their church. And the church works with the families to use THE BOOK with daily readings. Years of this makes its message a part of who you are. Unlike Tara’s father who made them ‘slaves’ to the message as everything he taught them came directly from God’s message that he knew was such. There are different versions of the Bible and sometimes people quote or say something that doesn’t necessarily ring true. But how can we refute it or even get into a wonderful discussion, when we are so unsure about the exactness of what we think and where it came from.

The point of the questions is do we have a responsibility to learn more about the Bible, if we proclaim to be learned Catholics? Is it sufficient to our being good Catholics if we only show up when we are supposed to and to act in accordance with the two great Commandments? We know the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the Sacraments; is this enough? Our church has provided classes, programs, lectures, and so many really interesting  opportunities to learn more.  Are we interested?    The Bible–what role should it play in our lives and in our children? Do we need its specifics? If we decided to learn a new hobby (computers?), how much time and effort would we put into its  learning? Would we read the book? Would we feel complete and satisfied with our new hobby, if we never read all about it? How often are we satisfied to only know so so about things that interest us? Have you any curiosity about life? this one and the next?

by Kathy Reilly