When I started college, I wanted to be a high school English teacher. I have loved reading since elementary school and I wanted to encourage others to love reading, too. Along with reading, I also enjoyed writing. With these two loves, I assumed teaching English would be a fitting career.
The second semester of my freshman year of college found me taking a Theology class. Since I had exclusively attended public school growing up, this was my first formal Theology class. Other students who had attended Catholic schools didn’t seem as impressed as I was with the class. Simply praying before a math class at college was an exciting concept for me. Reading encyclicals and Church documents? That was a complete thrill and I remember marveling at how accessible I found them.
After this introductory class, I was hooked.
I kept slipping extra Theology classes into my schedule. Until, finally, my adviser asked what I was doing. My heart wanted a Theology degree simply because it meant I could study more about what the Church thought and did. So I dropped my Education major and paired my English major with Theology. While I still loved reading and writing, I knew that I could never be quite as passionate about English as I could be about Theology.
Even with a Theology degree and a day full of teaching Theology classes, it still satisfies a desire of my heart when I can sit down and read good theological works. Whether they are more dogmatic or more spiritual, I find the truths they speak to be balm for my soul. I read Bishop Conley’s address to a group of Catholic school educators and administrators and I found myself underlining several points. Bishop Conley said, “If you want authentically Catholic culture, you need authentically Catholic schools.” This makes me applaud and then question, “How?” Hearing about the faith is enlightening and joyous for me. Learning about my role as a Catholic educator is inspiring. It fills me with truths I know to be solid.
Despite the length of time I have spent on Theology (the beauty and the teaching of it), the inspiration for this post is not Theology. Rather, it was in conversation with a co-worker that I realized that while theological reading is beautiful and soul-lifting, so is literature.
For the past couple years, I have read several Theology books. The bulk of my reading centers on the Lord and His Church. One day, however, I chose to start The End of the Affair by Graham Greene. I was surprised at how much it moved my heart. Circle back to earlier this week and I find myself saying aloud that literature brings life to my heart like nothing else can.
Perhaps a bit bold, but I would argue that my heart needs literature. It reveals truths about God but in different ways. In a similar way that art opens up something new in us, fictional novels speak realities to me in ways different from catechetical works. After reading Graham Greene’s novel, I realized I needed to read more literature. It actually does something good for my heart and soul that, perhaps surprisingly, Ratzinger, Hahn, and Sheed cannot.
The Lord, in His infinite wisdom, uses any means necessary to the heart. He created us with these strange multi-faceted organs that operate in unique and paradoxical ways. The beauty of architecture speaks to us as does the beauty of a flower. Michelangelo conveys a truth to us as does Graham Greene and Michael D. O’Brien. God is willing to use each desire and aspect of our hearts as an avenue to relationship with Him.
What avenues to God are crafted into your heart?