Keeping the Curiosity in Catholicism

Recently, I was reading an issue of the alumni magazine from the College of St. Benedict, my alma mater. There was an article about CSB’s science programs, which included the statement that all scientific discovery came out of curiosity and people who wouldn’t stop asking “why?”

When people ask me to describe myself, curious is inevitably one of the words I use. The rest of my identity seems to be constantly shifting, but I remain stoic in my curiosity. This curiosity manifests itself within religion — I’m constantly wondering why, and more in love with the journey to find the answers than the answers themselves. After all, what could be more satisfying to a seeker than to wonder about God, the one Thing of which we can never be completely certain? Yet, I definitely got the impression growing up within Catholicism that curiosity was not a preferable state of being; instead, my CCD teachers and the priests constantly wanted to give me The Answer that would forever stop the whys. If they couldn’t give me The Answer, they wanted me to stop asking the questions: “It’s a mystery,” or “It’s not for us to question / understand God’s will, but only to accept it.”

What no one seemed to understand was that I wasn’t really looking for answers. I was looking for companions who would ask the questions with me, who would take this journey with me. Curiosity is, after all, a motivating emotion — it can drive us to take a new job, to move to a new city, to turn the page in a novel, to watch a movie through to the end. To remove that sense of curiosity is to remove the thrill that anticipating and not knowing bring to life. In a way, having someone try to convince me they have The Answer is a little bit like having someone spoil the end of a movie or book when I’m in the thick of the tension. So when I ask why, I want people to know that I don’t expect them to have The Answer. I only want to know if they have ever shared my question.

Lacey Louwagie is a freelance writer and editor, feminist, and cradle Catholic. Her favorite topics of exploration are religion, spirituality, psychology, and sexuality. She’s a member of the CTA blog team and founder of a speculative fiction writers’ group. In addition to blogging here, she blogs about writing at LL Word.

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About Lacey Louwagie

I'm a feminist, a writer, an editor, and a seeker. I co-edited "Hungering and Thirsting for Justice: Real-Life Stories by Young Adult Catholics" (ACTA 2012) and authored "Where I First Met God" in "Unruly Catholic Women Writers II" (SUNY Press 2013). You can learn more about me at www.laceylouwagie.com.

3 thoughts on “Keeping the Curiosity in Catholicism

  1. Pingback: On Curiosity « LL Word

  2. I totally agree with you Lacey! The atmosphere within the Church right now does seem very hostile to the notion of questioning longly held norms of what is right and wrong. Whether its sexuality, theology, or the practice of the Faith I think the leaders of the Church must understand that it’s counterproductive to silence all form of inquiry and simply say, “THIS IS OUR FAITH, THIS IS THE WAY THE CHURCH HAS ALWAYS DONE IT…” Then we begin to wonder, if Jesus said He would truly be with us always, are we geuinely following Him when we hold on to these rigid methods of seeing humanity and the world? So, I hope, and I pray that the Holy Spirit will reinvigorate the Church with a spirit of questioning! I’m sure there were many Saints who questioned the Church’s authority at one time or another. Of course we know at certain times in history such as the Reformation it was required because situations had gotten so out of control…So let’s hope that the Jesuits (the free thinking of the Church par excellence!) and all forward thinking individuals within the Church will never stop questioning what God is sincerely telling them and that they would have the courage to question even our appointed leaders who might not always agree or want to listen to us.

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