Columnists Mark my words

Column: Smarter than a fifth-grader in your faith?

by Father Mark Goldasich

“Can you imagine the nun sitting at her desk grading these papers, all the while trying to keep a straight face and maintain her composure!” When an e-mail starts like this, you can immediately presume: 1) it’s going to be from an anonymous source; 2) it will most likely be fictional; 3) you will at least chuckle at its contents.

I found all of the above to be true in the case of these answers that Catholic grade school children supposedly wrote to questions about the Old and New Testaments. The entries appear in all their misspelled glory. Since there were a slew of them, here is a sampling:

• Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. Noah’s wife was Joan of Ark. Noah built and ark and the animals came on in pears.

• Lots wife was a pillar of salt during the day, but a ball of fire during the night.

• Samson slayed the Philistines with the Axe of the Apostles.

• Moses led the Jews to the Red Sea where they made unleavened bread which is bread without any ingredients.

• The Egyptians were all drowned in the dessert. Afterwards, Moses went up to Mount Cyanide to get the Ten Commandments.

• The First Commandments was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple.

• Moses died before he ever reached Canada, then Joshua led the Hebrews in the Battle of Geritol.

• David was a Hebrew king who was skilled at playing the liar. He fought the Finkelsteins, a race of people who lived in biblical times.

• Solomon, one of David’s sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.

•When Mary heard she was the mother of Jesus, she sang the Magna Carta.

• Jesus enunciated the Golden Rule, which says to do unto others before they do one to you. He also explained a man doth not live by sweat alone.

• The people who followed the Lord were called the 12 Decibels.

• St. Paul cavorted to Christianity. He preached holy acrimony, which is another name for marriage.

Well, I’m sure that at least a few of these made you smile and maybe even laugh out loud. My point in reprinting them is simply to get all of us back into “school mode.” A good number of students have already left for college, others have already started their new academic year, and many more are getting ready to do so in the upcoming days.

This time of year can be an incentive for us adults to commit ourselves to furthering our education, particularly regarding our faith — not only to give support and encouragement to the students we know, but especially to grow in our knowledge and love of God.

Although we may be amused by the children’s answers above, how comfortable would we be when asked, for example, to name the three theological virtues, the four cardinal virtues, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, or the spiritual and corporal works of mercy? If we were asked to make a list of the Beatitudes, could we do it? Would we even know where to find them in the Bible? Could we name all the mysteries of the rosary, including the mysteries of light? (Are you thinking, “What mysteries of light?”) If we’re honest, we all have a lot to learn about the basics of our faith, about the Scriptures, about prayer, about living out our faith in our day-to-day lives.

If you’d like to jump-start your spiritual (re)education, an easy way
to do so is with a book, published last year by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called “Essentials for Christian Living.” It covers Catholic prayer, doctrine, the creed, the sacraments and the Ten Commandments. It’s a smart buy at just $6.95 and, although 127 pages long, its size is compact and there’s lots of white space on the pages. In other words, it’s informative without being intimidating.

And wouldn’t it be nice to be “smarter than a fifth-grader” in your faith
and be able to answer confidently that there’s no truth to the claim that “the epistels were the wives of the apostles.”

About the author

Fr. Mark Goldasich

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