Some people believe that science and faith are in opposition to one another, but in fact the Church has a long history of encouraging scientific exploration – and some of the world’s greatest scientific discoveries were made by Catholic priests!
Recently on St. Joseph’s Workshop, Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ was discussing Fr. James Kurzynski, a Catholic priest and hobby astronomer, who has written about how his love of science has helped him be a better priest. Fr. Matthew reflected on Fr. Kurzynski’s words, and suggested that looking at the spiritual life the way we look at scientific discovery could make all the difference in how we approach our relationship with the Lord. He said:
“I look at how so many scientists live, and the amount of work they put in versus what they get out of it. You think, my goodness, how are you able to justify that? But they do it because they love it, and because there is a sense of adventure. You can see the love and excitement in a scientist who is really into his/her field.
Fr. Kurzynski says that is what science brings out in the human person – the discovery of the known universe brings that out. But here’s why is makes him a better priest: it’s because that’s also what our theological inquiry is about. That’s also what the spiritual life is about.
I think so often we imagine that the spiritual life is this mundane, tedious, painful, difficult pursuit that is showered in tears, that is full of sorrow, or at least filled with things that are not going to make us happy. And we feel like we have to do it because we’re obligated to, and that’s what God says we have to do, and we don’t have any choice.
That’s how people sometimes see this great call to be holy, to be spiritually in relationship with our Father in heaven. But, as Fr. Kurzynski is pointing out, that’s not true. Our relationship with God is one of adventure. Our relationship with God is one of incredible discovery.
The pace of scientific discovery is unreal. The things we have discovered in this millennium alone, it is amazing what we have learned about the world, about health, the human body, chemistry, biology, the stars, etc. But it totally pales in comparison to what we have to learn about God Himself. Because the created universe in which we live is finite, there are boundaries to it. And yes, it might be billions of light years across, but it’s finite. God is not.
The discovery of what it means to be human, not only in science, but the adventure of learning about God has made him be a better priest. Maybe you’re seeking in your own life, and wondering how to light the fire of faith in your life and appreciate in a deeper way this relationship with God. Well, maybe I have to look and ask if I realize that this journey is an adventure. It’s not just a burden that God puts before me. It’s not just God forcing me to do something unpleasant and something I don’t want to do.
Those painful parts of our life like self-denial, suffering, and penance, but also the joy of being able to share the graces poured out upon us, the blessings that God gives to those around us, the beauty of the sacraments, the beauty of holiness lived out in other people’s lives – these things make for such an amazing journey. These things make for such a powerful life that if we don’t have that sense of adventure, it’s time to discover it.
If you find yourself feeling like things are tedious, monotonous, and mundane, maybe it’s time to rediscover how God wants all of this to be an incredible adventure for you. One that’s full of ups and downs, yes. One that includes joys and sorrows, but one that will ultimately lead you to the greatest discovery you could ever imagine, which is God Himself.”
Listen to the full reflection below:
St. Joseph’s Workshop with Fr. Matthew Spencer airs weekdays at 7:00 p.m. Eastern/4:00 p.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio®.