by Father Mark Goldasich
Someone once said, “It’s remarkable how much you have to know before you realize how little you know.”
Only truly wise and humble people appreciate the truth of those words. Occasionally, readers will notice the “stl” after my name in the masthead and ask, “What do those letters mean?”
After almost 24 years of Catholic education, I’m tempted to say that “stl” means “slow to learn.” Honestly, though, the letters signify that I have a Licentiate in Sacred Theology, which simply means a degree in advanced theological study — in my case, moral theology.
As kids begin to settle into a new school year, my mind gets nostalgic as I recall my school days and the many wonderful teachers and classmates I had. But this time of year also starts an itch in me to continue to learn.
I take this story as an inspiration:
Isidore Robey, a famous physicist, came to the United States as a small child and grew up on New York’s Lower East Side. In an interview, he once was asked how a poor immigrant boy was able to become one of the world’s leading physicists.
He answered, “I couldn’t help it. It was because of my mother. She had a deep appreciation for the search for truth. And every single day when I came home from school, she would ask me, ‘Did you ask any good questions today?’” (Story found in Brian Cavanaugh’s “Sower’s Seeds of Encouragement: Fifth Planting.”)
If you truly want to learn, ask questions. They’re the keys to opening your mind and expanding your knowledge. Questions lead you to experience something new . . . and no one is too old to learn!
With my scattered mind, I appreciate some structure in learning. I’ve found the perfect solution in a book written by Erica Root. I started it this week to be in solidarity with students everywhere. Unlike the school year, though, my study will take me an entire calendar year to complete.
It’s not that the book is so thick or that I’m a slow reader. Well, you’ll understand better if I just tell you the name of the book. It’s called “A Year of Weeks: 52 Awesome Weeks of Trying New Things” (New York: Running Press, 2021; $17.99).
The lavishly illustrated volume is more of a workbook, as readers are encouraged to write right there on the pages. This first week, I’m coloring in what the weather and temperature look like each day; mentioning the best part of the day; noting my mood and something I’m grateful for; and adding any additional little notes.
One week, I’ll be picking a different flower each day to learn about and draw. Another week, I’ll collect inspirational quotes. Yet another week, I’ll sketch a different design on seven coffee mugs.
You don’t need a fun book like this, however, to learn new things. Why not explore a new feature of your cellphone or computer program, do ordinary things in a new way, try a different way to pray or attend a Bible study at your parish? If stymied for inspiration, browse your parish library or the public library for ideas.
Incidentally, when talking above about the “stl” behind my name, I used the word “masthead.” Don’t know what that is? Well, as the nuns used to say to me, take some time to look up that word . . . and, voila, you’re already learning something new!