When I was a kid, I’d ask my mom a million questions. Stuff like, how long is a centipede? Why does the sun rise in the morning, and why does Fr. Ballmeier wear a ‘scarf’ (chasuble) during mass?
Everyone knows at least one child like me who is insatiably curious. And we’ve all been on the receiving end of questions that can leave us stumped for an answer. Some questions are not easily explained, but others like why priests wear chasubles, or why Pope Benedict is called the Vicar of Christ are much easier to answer.
I recently came across a series of books I think are just fabulous. They're by Les Miller
and are called 25 Questions and published by Novalis
. Each booklet in the series deals with a different topic ranging from questions About the Mass
, to questions About Catholic Saints and Heroes
or About What We See in a Catholic Church
. I’ve been reading 25 Questions About The Pope
, which is a snazzy 55 pager about Popes. It answers questions big and small. Such as what sort of qualifications do you need to be pope, why the pope has his own flag or what a pope does in a normal day. And to add to that, there are lots of interesting trivia like did you know that during the pontificate of Pope John Paul he traveled to no less than 129 countries (talk about racking up airmiles).
Some things are a little less directly related but equally as interesting. For example, did you know that the Vatican Observatory has been exploring the stars since 1774? And that in the 1960’s the Vatican moved its observatory to Arizona, in the United Sates, to find clear skies unaffected by city lights. Pretty cool! But in addition to tidbits of fun stuff, there’s also important information like how a pope gets chosen and what’s a cardinal, what departments make up the curia.
I consider it a cheat sheet -something to have handy in the event of heavy crossfire in the classroom, at the dinner table or to tuck away as a conversation starter for the next wine and cheese. In all seriousness it’s not just about feeling like the coolest kid in class again with this wealth of tidbits, but that it sparks curiosity for the Faith. The next time someone asks something about the Faith like, why doesn’t the Vatican just sell all the treasures of the Church and give it to the needy – you’re going to have an answer for that.
Let's not forget facts are an important part of the new evangelization. Facts are a good way to clarify situations and to invite discussion with each other and with those who aren’t catechized. We could all probably stand to brush up on the basics and rediscover how amazing Catholicism is. For example, did you know that 25 percent of the financial support worldwide for people with HIV/AIDS comes from Catholic churches or organizations, including health care and educational institutions that different groups have set up? That’s something to be proud of and to work towards supporting.
There’s so much to be enthusiastic about in our faith history that I think that these sorts of handy facts are important for believers to know. What I especially love is that for less than the price of your average specialty coffee it's a great chance to get to know the Faith a lot better.