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For Your Marriage

Josh and Stacey Noem have been married for almost 20 years and have three children in middle school and high school. They blog about parenting and their adventures as a family.

What Do I Know?

Can you name the Ten Commandments? How about the fruits of the Spirit? The precepts of the Church?

A few days ago I was reading an article in America magazine called “Faith by Heart.” In addition to discussing how memorization can nurture spiritual growth, it included a “what-to-know list”—a list of essentials for basic Catholic literacy. I must admit, despite being a cradle Catholic with 19 years (yes, you read that correctly) of Catholic education under my belt I stumbled on more than one of the essentials.

Last night, I quizzed Joshua as we were falling off to sleep. While he rocked the gifts of the Spirit rather impressively, the order of the Ten Commandments and one or two Beatitudes were challenging for him.

I personally find it notable that I can cite chapter and verse where to find the Beatitudes in the Bible (Mt 5:1-12) but can’t recite them from memory unless I sing a hymn from Mass that includes them (Lead me, Lord). Joshua says that is because we are primarily formed liturgically. To which I told him to go write his own blog post on that topic.

The effect this “Catholic pop quiz” has on me, is to take the upcoming Year of Faith more personally to heart. The 13-month observance (October 11, 2012-November 24, 2013) commemorates the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In announcing it, the Holy Father asked that we study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism “to deepen our knowledge of the faith.”

As someone who works professionally in and for the Church, I have spent the last several months focusing more on how to observe the Year of Faith with the people I serve rather than considering what my own needs to deepen my knowledge of the faith might be.

Our faith is so rich in its depth and breadth it is fairly lacking in humility to think we could exhaust the repository of all there is to learn. There is always more.

So, I asked Joshua what he thought we, he and I, should do to observe the Year of Faith. He responded, “As a family? With the children?” And I clarified no, that I meant just he and I as adults relatively strongly formed in the faith. What could we do to grow more deeply in our knowledge of our faith?

Characteristically, we aren’t on the same page with our needs for personal growth.

I suggested wanting to work through the Catechism together. He suggested a renewed commitment to prayer and acts of service and justice.

We recognize and acknowledge we have different needs and desires for where we could stand to grow. This is nothing new in our marriage. In many ways it is incredibly helpful. I cannot lean on Joshua for the work I need to do to grow in my faith. Only I can do the work. But I can depend on him to journey with me and hold me accountable, as I do him.