I’m a naturally curious person. I think we all start that way. As babies, we play with our fingers, with toys, with the cheeks of our parents as they try to rock us to sleep. We play because we want to understand how the world around us works and what our place in it is. When we get old enough to discover the joy of words, we ask, “Why?” There are probably few parents who have not at some point gotten tired of a child’s incessant questioning.
At some point, most people grow out of that curiosity. I never did, and that’s why I love studying theology. I like to play with things. I like to take a text and dissect it, to try on reading after reading, like a child plays dress-up, until I find something that fits just right. I like to take an idea and bounce it around with professors and classmates like a child with a new ball. Sometimes I get to delight in seeing an idea lift off and take on a life of its own, like a child who’s been given a balloon. I’ve never gotten tired of asking why, and our heavenly Father doesn’t seem to have tired of it yet either.
Like the child, I want to understand the world and my place in it, but I have some extra data. I know that the world is not randomly put together, but that it was created and is redeemed and sustained by the God who wraps me in His arms.
I know that my place in the world is not to be alone, but to be part of a pilgrim people that I believe I’m called to serve as a priest as we walk along together. And so it’s not just my place in the world that I want to understand, but rather our place, our journey and our destiny. I know I never will fully understand it, but also that I’m not saved by understanding but by faith.
I’d be the last to deny that our theological studies are useful for ministry. The MDiv degree that we study for at the University of Notre Dame provides us with top-notch preparation for professional ministry in the Church. But, our studies are not just of utilitarian benefit. I also can’t deny that studying for that next test can’t sometimes get a little stressful or even tedious. Studies definitely have a role to play in teaching us discipline. But, that’s not their primary value either.
Ultimately, through theological studies we’re helped to go back to being that curious little child that Jesus beckoned to come unto Him.
Mr. Adam Booth, C.S.C., is in his second year of temporary vows and is studying theology as a seminarian at Moreau Seminary on the campus of Notre Dame. He and other seminarians at Moreau write a post each month for the Spes Unica Blog, sharing on their life and formation at Moreau. Meet our other men in formation, and learn more about seminary life in Holy Cross, and specifically about the Postulant Program at Moreau Seminary, which constitutes the first year of religious and priestly formation in Holy Cross for college graduates and Old College seniors.