Why Study Theology?

Dear Student,

Does it feel strange to be addressed as a student, even though you’ve been out of school for a while? Does the word send a rush of adrenaline down your spine, as you remember pop quizzes and lunch room drama? Or does it spark a memory in you of a curious, younger version of yourself? 

It’s the beginning of a new school year, and while professional teachers and traditional students are headed back to class, I’m here to remind you that your education hasn’t ended. Have you picked up a new skill since the last time you stepped foot in a classroom? Have you read something that inspired you? Have you shared your wisdom with another seeker like yourself? Have you spent time pondering, and researching, and discussing a question that grabbed your imagination and wouldn’t let go? 

Well, if you have questions, you’ve come to the right place. While we aren’t sitting in neat rows in front of a PowerPoint presentation, we have gathered here to live our faith by seeking the sacred in everyday moments. This is a place where you can ask some of those big questions that keep you up at night. Not only can you ask these questions, but we can find and explore their answers–together. 

Have you ever thought about why bad things happen to good people? Have you ever considered what it takes to be a good person in the first place? Have you ever wondered about what you should do with your life? Have you ever questioned if you are loved? 

Have you ever thought about why bad things happen to good people? Have you ever considered what it takes to be a good person in the first place? Have you ever wondered about what you should do with your life? Have you ever questioned if you are loved? 

Believe it or not, we have answers to those questions. They aren’t always simple answers. Sometimes, these answers will ask you to hold two different things in tension with one another. In other situations, the answers will be quite complex and require you to think through several steps in order to arrive at the conclusion. Occasionally, the answer is simple, but might be hard to believe: yes, you are loved. Always. Completely. No matter what. 

We all grapple with these questions–it’s part of being human! But when we study theology, we can grapple with them together. As we learn together, you’ll find you aren’t the only one in the room who has ever wondered if God is really listening to your prayers. More than that, you’ll find that there have been other women and men you who asked the same question many years ago. You aren’t alone in time or space. 

But, wait. What if you don’t have any questions? What if you think that you’ve already learned all there is to know about God? Perhaps then, you don’t know the most important thing about God: God wants to have a relationship with you.

In the same way that there is always something more to learn about your best friend, parent, or significant other, there is always something more to learn about God. And just like you can get to know a friend in a variety of ways, there are many ways to get to know God. One of the best ways to do this is to encounter him in Scripture. To hear the story of his faithful love for humanity. To listen to other, older, wiser voices who have written about their experiences as God’s beloved daughter or son. And then to experience God’s love yourself, in the depths of your heart during the silence that comes with prayer. 

But why put in all this work? I know you have a lot on your plate, and seeking answers to life’s big questions while building a relationship with God will certainly take time and energy. Is it even worth it? 

The answer to that is a resounding yes. St. Ignatius of Loyola puts it this way in the “Principle and Foundation” of his Spiritual Exercises: “God created human beings to praise, reverence, and serve God, and by doing this to save their souls.” St. Augustine says it like this in his autobiography titled Confessions: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” 

There is something inside of all of us that is searching for answers and searching for love, something that won’t be satisfied until we find what we are looking for. We may try to find this satisfaction in places like our social media accounts, our extracurricular activities, our jobs, or our romantic relationships. But those places don’t have the answers. The one place where we can find truth and peace is in Jesus Christ. When we find our place in God’s love story, it suddenly becomes clear that we are loved, that we can find meaning in suffering, that we have a purpose, and that we are made for so much more than this world can offer. 

There is something inside of all of us that is searching for answers and searching for love, something that won’t be satisfied until we find what we are looking for.

God made us this way, and thank goodness he did! The world is full of people and situations that can lead us closer to him and eternal happiness, but it is also full of distractions. A longing for heaven is written on our hearts, and that longing can always lead us back to Jesus whenever we go astray. St. John Paul II said it best when he said, “It is Jesus, in fact, that you seek when you dream of happiness.” 

So why should you take the time to pursue and study theology? Theology can help you answer life’s big questions, and it can assure you that you are not alone. But most of all, you should study theology–even once you’re officially finished with school–because it will help you find truth, happiness, and peace. Could your math class do that? 

Happy new school year,

Mrs. Sullivan

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