Graciously, Catholicismrocks has offered me a spotlight to answer questions about the faith, morals and related Catholic concerns for anyone, even the non-Catholic. In fear, I demurred. Here is my reconsidered response.
I've been blessed throughout life with good teachers, mentors, directors and insightful friends who expected me of more than most, accepted what I could give at the time as sufficient, inspired me to excel if only to impress, counseled my impulsive nature, and sought me out to lift me up when I needed tough or tender love. Somehow, Providence has always seen to it that I have good, wholesome, intelligent and practical guidance and tracking--as if I were worth the effort! To what end for myself, I am not always certain, though of course it has to do with glorifying God. Could it be possible that Providence is preparing me to be and do for others what has always been and done for me? "I am not ready," I wail! "If not, when?" comes the whispered response. "How can you ignore my ongoing mistakes," I plead! "I see only ongoing efforts to improve," an echo of a shiver replies. "What if I do more harm than good?" I am nearly in tears! "Have those to whom you were specially entrusted done more harm than good?" The question assuages my fears. "What if I am unwilling," I shudder at the ingratitude that frames this reservation. Silence is the echo to my fear of failure. "OK. You win!" I cry. "Whoever you are, I acquiesce, humbly, before Divine Providence that provides when I cannot."
I sense a warm, approving smile, withdrawing before it even reaches my consciousness, reassuring me all will be well. I hope this is true. Still, I'm not going to the hardware store for penny nails and paintbrush to post a sign: “Open for business -- Mentor is in.”
I simply trust that the opportunities will present themselves as the blessings have also mysteriously appeared when needed. More than ever, we know that we do not know even what we need to know, you know? Should something I say in a story or poem move us both to ponder, you won't have to tell me (though it would be appreciated). I'll trust Providence is using me to send a message to help others on their way. Because we are all in need of a mentor. Though, when pressed, I will admit I only funnel insights already abundantly present in the Church.
Primarily, besides Catechisms and other sources of official teaching (not to mention countless unofficial works that clarify the faith), I would suggest a favorite reference of mine, St. Thomas’ Summa Theologica (though there are his other works like the Summa Contra Gentiles, On Good and Evil, etc.) and the expansive community of thinkers developed from his thought. This great saint, “Angelic” and “Universal” Doctor of the Church, discusses in its 3 parts, 614 questions using 3,125 articles regarding the Catholic faith. Just a few topics: His famous five philosophical proofs for the existence of God, the plurality of Persons in God, the free will of angels and lack of it in demons, the intellectual powers of man, on that which makes an act moral, the problem of pain, the effects of habits in the soul comprising all virtues and vices, the different kinds of sin, the nature of law and the necessity of grace, the difference between the gifts and fruits of the Spirit, the four Cardinal virtues and three Theological virtues and their parts and effects, numerous articles on related questions like modesty in dress, prophecy in Scriptures, prayer, the Sacraments and the Four Last Things. Aquinas’ compressed thought in the Summa’s five volumes from Christian Classics Publications are alone worth several lifetimes of study, and St. Thomas, with respect to the Church’s Tradition and Teaching in general is but a drop in the bucket (albeit a large one). With such rich treasures of the Church, I should never have balked at an opportunity to share them.
We are here to get to know our faith to better love God and assist one another in our pursuit of heavenly glory, and for that everyone could use a bit of tutoring. (Fondly I recall the Far Side comic of a dog’s thoughts on that.) If I may be but a simple signpost along that way here online, let it be so.