Q. Why study theology? A. Who?
“What you are in love with will decide…. what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.” Pedro Arrupe SJ
I am unashamedly in love with good preaching and catechesis. Homilies or written pieces that help me understand the nature and relevance of Jesus’ life and message fill me with joy and gratitude. Conversely my heart breaks when homilists and writers fail to nourish the congregation or readership. I am doubly heartbroken because these missed opportunities also reflect very badly on the Church.
For many people living in the western world encounters with the Church are few and far between. One of the consequences of secularism is that the window of opportunity to tell people about Jesus Christ has diminished greatly with time. It is therefore an imperative that proclaimers of the Gospel fully avail of the increasingly rare and precious opportunities that they are afforded. I begin my theology studies at Regis College, Toronto knowing that if I am to proclaim the Gospel confidently and authentically then I must first steep myself in the Lord’s way of thinking.
What have I learned from experience about proclaiming the Word? I have learned that people don’t just want to hear about God: they also want to hear about themselves. Ultimately the truth about God and humanity is not an answer to a series of ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘when’ or ‘why’ questions, but to a ‘who’ question: Who is God? Who am I? Who are we? Satisfying answers to this type of question do not come in the form of generalised statements of fact or facile rules of thumb but rather in story form.
If you want to know the truth about who God is, you have to learn about God’s story. If you want to know the truth about who you are, you have to learn about your own personal story. ‘Giants’ of Christianity such as St. Paul, St. Augustine and St. Ignatius of Loyola discovered to their great surprise that the God story and their own story were intimately connected. This new understanding of themselves in the light of the Gospel became their firm foundation. The language of theology allowed them to retell this reunified story with a depth and detail that other disciplines did not permit. I hope that my own theology studies will equip me, and others through me, with the sacred language of sacred storytelling.