When I was a novice, one of my formators was a Schoenstatt Sister who was a physicist. She was — and still is — someone our smart sisters call a genius, and here she was teaching us kids. What amazed me was not so much that she knew what she was talking about, but that she could make our dumbest questions sound smart. She could also make a completely wrong answer right. Without being condescending, she could take a wrong answer, clearly state that it was incorrect, but explain the correct answer by building off of the wrong answer. She created an environment where we felt at home, where we were respectfully challenged and where we could grow.
When we talk with friends and disagree about faith issues, are we aware of the environment we’re in? If it’s already a hostile environment, the door to an open mind and heart is usually closed. The other person needs to feel that we respect them no matter what. They need to know that we take them seriously and are trying to understand them even if we do not agree with them as we defend Catholic teaching. When we try to understand the other person, they are much more likely to try to understand us.
Lastly, how often have we heard that what people really need today are witnesses of our faith? The smartest explanation or debate will mean nothing if not backed up by the example of living our faith in all its joy and beauty. When our faith is truly alive in us and when we treat others as children of God, we create an environment where others feel at home, where they can be respectfully challenged and where we all can grow.
By Sister Donna Krzmarzick
Director of Consecrated Life