The Catholic Talks evolved organically when I regularly entertained questions from students that dealt with religion and Catholic doctrine. Sometimes we’d talk in between classes, sometimes after classes, and sometimes one-on-one on weekends in a cafe that served good desserts and hot chocolate (which is my weakness.)
I’ve always known the catechism and what the Church teaches ever since I was a boy in short pants – in the broad-strokes at least. Books I’ve read such as The Faith Explained, by Leo Trese, and Theology for Beginners by Frank J. Sheed fuelled these discussions. But it became apparent that I needed to make sure that I could answer correctly, and in the spirit that the Church has always enlightened the faithful. No heretics in my family, thank you. So I decided to take Theology classes. I found the right mix in the satellite program of The University of Notre Dame where I finished Theology in Doctrine, and Theology in Scripture. I am currently working on finishing Theology in Liturgy, and after that Theology in Church History.
The profiles of my listeners are mostly young lapsed Catholics. They require answers, which their parents cannot answer. It isn’t surprising since the Filipino Catholic is devotional in nature, but not “analytical” in the sense that it isn’t typical to learn doctrine and scripture. I know this because I am a product of that generation who went to mass, pilgrimages, and Visita Iglesia, but did not have formal Catechism. The younger generation of today are different: they require answers. They want to know why they have to go to mass, how we can prove God exists, or why go through yearly rituals like visiting seven churches on Maundy Thursday.
I would like to think that The Catholic Talks addresses this gap. The operating tenet is not to pass judgement on other belief systems, but to explain what the Catholics have always believed since the time of the apostles. Listeners (or readers) may agree or disagree, and that is fine, but what is important is they know what Catholics believe and why. The hope is that at some point in time it will make sense; or that when information reaches a critical level, it will all come together like a puzzle – a light-bulb moment.
I’ve been using Facebook as a stage to post quotes from saints as well as information of the saints themselves. The website Ask.fm was also used as a platform where students can ask questions and I would answer. I also had a blog on some reflections about specific doctrinal facts and scriptural passages. It felt scattered, and it made sense to bring them together in one website.
The one thing this website has that I haven’t done before was to comment on religious art whether it is a painting, sculpture, architecture, or movie. While looking at older religious paintings, it struck me that they were teaching tools at a time when people did not know how to read. Paintings were their “comic books” or, how do you say it nowadays, “graphic novels.” The artists had a message in mind or expressed a common belief in visual form without meaning to. I thought it would be nice to put it in words for a generation that has little or no background.
While we can try, we can’t cover or answer everything because, admittedly, The Catholic Talks doesn’t know everything – but neither does the Pope. Did that shock you? Did you think the Pope is infallible that he knows all the answer? It isn’t so. That’s not what Catholics believe. Let’s talk... What the Pope Is and Is Not