Repeatedly members of the Catholic Community share that they don’t engage in faith conversations because they don’t know what to say. There is an urgent need to address this. Knowledge gaps can be filled if we’re prepared to give time to fill them. Pope Benedict spoke about (particularly in the context of what we receive from the writings of Blessed John Henry Newman) the formation of a well-instructed laity. Quoting Newman he said at Cofton Park, Birmingham, on 19 September:
"I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it"
The Present Position of Catholics in England, ix, 390
Every Catholic should make time for daily prayer and spiritual reading of some kind. This doesn’t mean that we have to stock our shelves with weighty theology books. What the Holy Father specifically highlighted in this context was study of the Word of God, our Catholic history and of the Creed. He reminded us of the importance of prayer, reception of the Sacraments and the role of conscience. It is important to add to this list the benefits of making time to study the Pope’s speeches, homilies and addresses. The accounts of the lives of the saints, in particular, also offer a treasure trove of inspiration and teaching. During the Reformation many Catholics lost their lives for love of the Mass and it is always humbling to read about their sacrifices.
"God loves each of us as if there were only one of us."
Saint Augustine of Hippo