Socrates (470 BC) a Greek philosopher once said: “I neither know nor I think that I know” (Apology of Plato).
True wisdom Socrates said is knowing that we know nothing.
We all experience ignorance of some sort. Our Christian Faith challenges us to seek the truth; to come out of the shadows of ignorance. Jesus said: "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)
Human ignorance can be experienced in three different levels
Our Christian faith calls us to be teachers, to share the knowledge we have acquired through life with others specially, those who have been deprived of the opportunities to learn and advance in our society.
Saint Katherine Drexel (1858-1955) not only committed her life to teach but also donated all her inherited wealth $20 million dollars to open schools for African Americans and Native Americans at a time in America’s history of great discrimination and social injustice to minorities.
She was the founder of Xavier University in New Orleans.
Do you know how to play the guitar or maybe the piano? Do you know math or maybe algebra? Are you a good artist or writer? Do you know a second language? God calls us to share our knowledge, skills, talents with others.
Consider being a mentor at a non-profit organization or at your parish education or social program.
For example, Covenant House, a Catholic runaway crisis shelter for youth, is always in need for mentors and volunteers for its program. Below there is a link to the Covenant House’s website
Moral Ignorance: Ignorance of the moral values, attitudes and dispositions of our faith.
Our baptismal call challenges us to be a light to the world. We live in an age marked by secularism and moral relativism.
Our society seems to be plagued by sexual scandals, corporate corruption, greed, political abuses, family disintegration and social apathy.
In a world so obsess with materialistic and hedonistic tendencies, Catholic Christians are called to instruct and lead first and foremost by example.
In his most recent encyclical S pe Salvi (saved by hope) , Pope Benedict XVI says:
“ If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man's ethical formation, in man's inner growth (cf. Eph 3:16; 2 Cor 4:16), then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world.”
Spiritual ignorance: Ignorance of the core tenets, practices, and devotions of our faith.
St. Paul says: “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).
The day of our baptism our parents received a candle lit from the paschal candle blessed during the Easter Vigil. This candle represents the light of faith, that must be passed on, share and experienced in the domestic church we call the Family.
As mature Catholics we have a responsibility to grow in the knowledge of our faith’s teachings but also to share this knowledge with the world at large.
Jesus commanded his disciples: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Matthew 28:19
Spiritual Indifference is the result of a faith that was not nourished or mentored.
John Paul II in his encyclical Familiaris Consortio highlights the fundamental role of parents and mentors and nurturers of faith.
The pope says: “Christian marriage and the Christian family build up the Church: for in the family the human person is not only brought into being and progressively introduced by means of education into the human community, but by means of the rebirth of baptism and education in the faith the child is also introduced into God's family, which is the Church.”
"Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” Luke 17:3
Maybe you have a son that is using illegal drugs or a friend that is cheating on his or her spouse or a co-worker that tends to drink and drive. As Christians we have the duty to announce good news but also to denounce sin, injustice and evil.
Keeping silence lead us to the sin of omission. The things we could have done or the words we could have said but didn’t.
We have the moral duty to offer fraternal correction to our brothers and sisters. “Silence gives consent”. Saying and Hearing the truth can be hurtful at times. However, We should not be afraid to speak the truth and correct others when they do wrong. By taking a stand we may save them from greater catastrophes.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not afraid of speaking the truth about social injustice at a time in American history when most Christians kept silence about racism and social inequality.
Taking the time to listen, or maybe writing a few words of encouragement, or just simply being present to someone in pain can make a big difference in the life of someone experiencing sorrow and grief.
Christ our Lord is the perfect example of Compassion. “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36
Mother Teresa spent almost 40 years ministering to sick, lonely ,hungry and dying in the slums of Calcutta India. She insisted on small things done with great love produce big results. As Christians we are compelled to reach with compassion to those in our world who are hurting.
Who are the poor among us? What is our response to them?
Gandhi once said: “an eye for an eye make this world blind”.
We all have made mistakes in the past. And we all have been hurt by someone in the past. Our faith challenges us to forgive and to seek forgiveness.
Forgiveness is one of the most powerful liberating human experiences. Ironically, forgiveness is at the same time one of the most difficult acts to offer.
As Christians we are called to forgive seventy times seven meaning, “always”. Matthew 18: 21-22
In 1981 Pope John Paul II was shot four times by a Turkish national in St. Peter square. The Pope was badly injured by the bullets, undergoing a five hour, life threatening surgery, in Rome. Despite, this attempt on his life and despite the physical injuries resulted as a consequence of the attack, the Pope decided to forgive and meet his attacker.
The pope forgave Mehmet Ali Agca and met him in his Italian prison cell in 1983.
Impatience, anger, negativity, revenge, are all reactions deeply ingrained in human nature.
We all have been tempted, time and time again, to react negatively to the wrongs and injustices inflicted upon us by others.
Who hasn’t been cut off in traffic or discriminated against in one way or another? Who hasn’t dealt with a rude person or an annoying personality?
Christ is our example of patience, he carried his cross, a symbol of injustice, death, hatred, and apathy with patience. Like Christ, we must also carry our cross patiently in a world that is often unfair, indifferent, violent and rude.
Jesus said: Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.
Nelson Mandela spent 27 years confined in a prison cell in Robben Island and Pollsmoor prison for fighting apartheid, racial discrimination in South Africa.
Mandela was released on February 11, 1990. Soon after his release Mandela began advocating reconciliation and political dialogue with the political opposition.
Nelson Mandela received the Nobel peace prize in 1993 and became the first black president of South Africa on May 10, 1994. In an act of good will and reconciliation Mandela invited the guards of his prison to the ceremony of inauguration.
In the catacomb of Priscilla 5 th century there is this inscription by an early Christian: “ I implore you, brothers to pray whenever you come here and invoke the Father and Son in all your prayers so that they might save Agape (the person in the tomb) forever"
Catholics believe that we belong to one body that of Christ Rom 12:5. We also believe that we can pray for others in this life and in the life to come. Because the unity of the body of Christ is not fractured or separated by death.
Praying for the living and the dead is part of our Judeo-Christian tradition. To this day devout Jews pray for the dead. Christianity inherited this practice from the people of the Old Covenant.
Jesus prayed for his disciples, likewise we should also pray for others specially:
Those who find life difficult
Those who are trapped by hatred and injustice
Those who are victims of hunger, war, and social injustice
Those who have no one to pray for them.
Those souls in purgatory awaiting the beatific vision.
Inscription in Christian catacomb, requesting Prayers for the dead. 5 th century
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen.