For you this week:
- Reflection for Saturday: How critical thinking builds our trust in God
- Inside the Ministry: New courses available soon
- Explore WordBytes: How can you be sure what is God’s will?
Saturday September 18, 2021
Some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold. (From Saturday's Gospel reading)
Reflection for Saturday:
How critical thinking builds our trust in God
One of the most important courses I took during high school was called "Critical Thinking". In a moment I'll share how it's been helping me trust the Lord better. I'll explain how it's good soil for receiving and growing in the Word of the Lord, producing abundant fruits as Jesus describes in this Saturday's Gospel reading.
Unfortunately, people often mistake "critical thinking" for criticizing, as in putting others down, unfavorably judging them, finding fault whether it's deserved or not. But in fact it means skillful judgment as to truth and merit, factual analysis, and clear-headed, logical, unemotional thought processes.
My husband Ralph took a similar course when he entered the Air Force after graduating from high school. It taught him how to recognize and distrust rumors and propaganda so that he would not be tricked by the enemy.
I wish these courses were required studies for everyone. There's an awful lot of uncritical thinking happening today, and this is making everyone's hardships harder. And at the bottom of it, people are being tricked by the Enemy of God's people, the Devil.
The Devil is very pleased when a person lets the government (or any authority other than God) decide what's right and what's wrong, or what's a scientific fact despite a lack of thorough scientific analysis, or what should be censored so that critical thinking is stifled. It creates an environment where the truths about faith and salvation are sown onto hard paths where they're trampled, onto rocky ground where they wither, and into thorns where they get choked out by falsehoods.
When we fail to use critical thinking skills, we lose what we call "common sense". Common sense is normal native intelligence -- God instilled it in humankind when he created us in his image. But common sense only makes good sense when based on critical thinking. Now take this a step further: Common sense influenced by the Holy Spirit is critical thinking united to Divine Wisdom.
Non-critical thinking is blind trust. The only one we should give blind trust to is God. The ONLY one. Blind trust in anything or anyone else is a sin because it's a form of idolatry and it easily leads us astray.
Adam and Eve failed to use critical thinking skills when the serpent tricked them into a false idea of what God had commanded them. God had said, "You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die" (Genesis 2:17). The serpent used propaganda to make them think that God meant something different: "Actually you will not die, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:4-5).
Without critical thinking, we make bad choices even when we have the best of intentions. Today I'm very grateful for that high school course on critical thinking as I analyze what others are putting their blind trust into. The more I feel pressured to do something, the more I distrust it -- this is one of the lessons taught in the class (at the time, the teacher was mainly talking about teenage peer pressure). So I take time to analyze the source of the pressure and the possible motives of those pushing me to trust them. I examine how closely their philosophies align with the Bible and Catholic Church teachings. I research the broader picture: Who else is offering information on the topic and are they researching it or are they just repeating sound bytes that they've been pressured into using?
There are other critical thinking skills that we can use in addition to these, but the process must ultimately rely on how well we can hear the Holy Spirit guiding us. Is our personal relationship the Holy Spirit influencing the process?
Truly critical thinking includes the realization that I will never see the full picture, I will never know all the nuances of an issue, and I can never fully trust my conclusions. When we neglect to spend enough time in prayer and in the study of scripture and Church teachings, and when we don't pay attention to the warning flags of the Holy Spirit, and when we blindly trust those who are not doing this either, we're very vulnerable to the propaganda of the Enemy.
Truly critical thinking warns us that we can only give blind trust to God and that it must be within the context of a personal relationship with our Savior, who conquered the Enemy's hold on us, and with the Spirit of Truth, the Paraclete, the Counselor. Truly critical thinking benefits greatly from the activation of the Holy Spirit's gifts within us.
Here's an article that explains it even better than I've tried to do: The Non-Critical Thinker’s Manifesto by Jerome German of Crisis Magazine @ crisismagazine.com/2021/the-non-critical-thinkers-manifesto.
Inside the Ministry: New courses available soon
A few weeks ago I met with a new volunteer. Karen lives near the GNM office and is full of enthusiasm for what we're doing. As we discerned what her place would be in GNM, it became clear that she can serve as a curriculum developer, repurposing content we already have and turning them into courses.
Karen's first project is "Knowing God's Will and Doing it Well", lifted from the pages of our most popular ebook (see catholicdr.com/e-books/knowing-gods-will) and enhancing it with prayers and videos. Please keep her in prayer as she works on this. And watch for announcements about it in this newsletter.
We're also taking to the next level our method of offering courses. In the past, our courses have been available only at certain times of year except for a few archived courses found on our website at paracletia.net. The goal is to make all of our courses available any time to anyone. Praise the Lord, we've been invited to become part of the SmartCatholics Academy (smartcatholics.com/academy). On this platform, students will be able to choose a course and access each session in correct order. Session two is unlocked only when session one is completed, and so forth.
Launching in November, the SmartCatholics Academy will be the only online Catholic school of its kind -- an ever-growing collection of Catholic courses from various ministries. All courses will be free.
By joining the SmartCatholics Academy, Good News Ministries will be discovered by people who haven't heard of us yet. We'll begin with our most popular course, Consecration to the Holy Spirit. Keep watching this newsletter for more information.
WordBytes is a library of Catholic faith-building articles by Good News Ministries. Come on in and explore! Visit WordBytes.org today.
This week's recommendation:
How Can You Be Sure What Is God’s Will?
Discerning God’s will is not a complicated business. It is in reality, simple. It’s always available, and God always speaks in the vernacular — He speaks our language, because He wants us to hear Him. It’s His great desire that we hear Him. The complications set in when we try to hear God without doing our part to open the channels of communication. Divine guidance is God simply communicating with His children.
For more on this, visit wordbytes.org/master-needs-you/what-is-gods-will.
God bless you!
Every morning, I lift up in prayer everyone who helps Good News Ministries in any way (donors, volunteers, prayer supporters, etc.) and all the prayer requests posted on our site. What can I cover in prayer for you? Post your prayer request.
How else can the team and I serve you today? Visit our homepage.
Thank you for reading this newsletter.
Your servant in Christ,
Terry Modica, Executive Director
Good News Ministries
Keep your eyes on Jesus!
And when you have to look at others, see them through his eyes.