At the beginning of the school year in 2015, I found myself e-mailing my Director of Religious Education (DRE) several times asking to be enrolled in an online catechism class, and for her to cover the cost for a Bible study in our parish and a Bible study with my mom’s group. I told her I felt bad about asking, again, but figured the worst she could say was ‘no’ and I’d have to cover the cost myself, plus she told us in the beginning of the year they would cover the costs of studies for Catechist’s under an education fund. I also told her I wanted to fill my mind with “Everything Jesus”.
For me as a catechist, it is important to be able to clearly explain to the children what our faith is and why we believe what we believe. In addition, part of my job is catechizing to the parents who may not have studied the faith since they completed their religious education classes. My studies have helped me to defend the faith when asked questions and given me the resources to know where to go when I do not know the answer to questions. I am able to more clearly explain my position on political topics. Finally, in my personal life, I know better how to live according to God’s law and boundaries, not only to not break the 10 Commandments, but those things which Jesus has taught us to avoid, such as killing someone with hateful thoughts (Matthew 5:22) or committing adultery through lusting after another (Matthew 5:28).
Today, there is so much out there that we can fill our minds with, good and bad. It is important that we filter out the bad things that can draw us into temptation and lead us to sin, and stay close to God and living a life pleasing to Him. When going online, we must steer clear of sites which are filled with pornography or other evil. If we view these sites, it is easy to be drawn into to thinking “I’m just looking because who is it really hurting”. We must reflect upon how it will hurt our spouse or dating partner when caught, how it hurts the people involved who are being exploited for their body, or our sons and daughters who see celebrities posting immoral selfies and themselves fall into pornography if we don’t speak up against it. A good question we can ask ourselves is, “Would I be looking at this site or watching this movie if ____ (or Jesus) was standing behind me?” If this is a temptation, then cut it off by programming the Internet router to block out those sites, use Internet parental controls or only use a search engine which will block those sites from searches. We must instead look at sites, watch movies or TV shows that are wholesome and godly, and that do not exploit people for their bodies or promote immoral behavior.
While it is good for us to be informed about the evil around us by reading news articles or learning the arguments of those against the Church, we must make sure we do not become a participant in that evil. For example, we must avoid the hateful behavior or words that are often said to each other who support opposing political candidates. While we may respectfully disagree, we must do so in a Christ-like manner so that we are not drawn into hateful speech with another whom we may not even know. People are not always open to accepting Bible verses to argue hot topics, but making justified points as to why it is wrong to support a candidate who believes in such things as abortion, torture, and the death penalty in a way that promotes pro-life values is the best way to get the point across without being condemning of the person supporting such a candidate. Jesus did not argue by putting others down or outright dismissing them and sending them away. He instead pointed out hypocrisy in their words and actions (see Luke 14:10-17 for one example of many). If we are not good at this, learn how to be a better persuasive speaker or writer by joining groups who believe the same things we do first. There, we can read and participate in like-minded discussions, and learn properly how to discuss our Catholic beliefs in a way that isn’t so off-putting and quickly dismissed.
Finally, it is most important to really know the faith and what we are talking about before getting into arguments with others who may already have all of their arguments stacked against the faith. The best way to do this is by preparing ourselves by filling our minds with everything Jesus. By putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20), we will be able to know where we stand with God and how to defend the faith when attacked. Start with a good Bible study, such as The Bible Timeline (Ascension Press) which teaches the entire salvation history from Genesis to Acts. To continue to learn more about the history of the Catholic Church, a great study which picks up from the Acts to modern day is Epic, A Journey through Church History (Ascension Press). There are also many great Bible studies which will focus on a single Gospel writer, a single prophet such as Moses, or saints like Mary. We can also learn more about modern day topics which will help us to reflect on the Church’s view, for example the Theology of the Body or the Catechism.
The more we fill our minds with “everything Jesus” the easier it will be to see sin and to avoid the temptations that lead us into sin. We also will be able to use these resources to voice our views with love and with the backing of God who helps us to plant the seeds so that others may see validity in our arguments. We must build our house upon the rock so that our arguments do not wash away, as the foolish who build their arguments upon the sand which washes away (based on Matthew 7:24-27).
Laura Hensley is a freelance writer, web developer, and runs the blog, Catholic Upgrade (link below). She is a lifelong Catholic who teaches 2nd grade religious education, and has been studying the Bible for over 10 years. She has been married over 15 years and has 4 children with her husband.