Important Lecture Series to Help Catholics Better Understand their Faith – article on the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney website
Article source: Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese
Professor Tracey Rowland, Dean of the John Paul II Institute of Marriage and Family will launch an important new lecture series to help modern Catholics better understand and deepen their faith.
On Tuesday, 27 August, Professor Rowland will give the first of the Order of Malta Lectures at the University of Notre Dame Sydney. Tackling “The Three Theological Virtues: Why do faith, hope and love matter in the 21st century” she will explore what faith, hope and love mean in our spiritual lives basing much of her lecture on the writings of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI whom she describes as “not only one of the great scholars but possibly the greatest scholar popes in history.”
“Pope Benedict wrote a great deal about the virtues of faith, hope and love and my lecture will unpack much of what he said in a slightly more digestible form, but in a way I hope people will be inspired to read his theological writings,” she says describing Pope Benedict’s works as far more accessible and easily understood than most of us realise.
“The problem isn’t that his writings are so dense or that they are difficult to follow, but most Catholics don’t know where to find the material and in my lecture I will try and remedy this by guiding people to the books and essays and the links where these may be obtained,” she says.
Sponsored by the NSW branch of the Order of Malta in NSW under the patronage of the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell what is being billed as an occasional lecture series has been developed to enable Sydney Catholics to learn and understand more about their faith, as well as be able to better defend their faith in an increasingly secular world.
“At a time when many people seek to question the continuing role and relevance of the Catholic faith, these lectures will equip ordinary Australian Catholics with the knowledge and arguments to defend our beliefs,” says David Hall, Chair of the Order of Malta NSW.
He explains that the idea to sponsor and create the Order of Malta lecture series came after discussions with a wide range of men and women in the Catholic community and discovering a definite need for people to gain deeper understanding of some of the contemporary issues we are faced with today.
“While the series will address many of the complex challenges confronting the Church and modern Catholics, lecturers will presume no pre-existing theological study and will address the issues through the most relevant and practical examples,” he says.
Professor Rowland believes the lecture series comes in answer to the rise in interest among Catholics in understanding the fundamentals of their faith.
“This has been happening over the past several years and I think this is because for two or three decades the emphasis in Catholic teaching was on the experiential or people’s experience of the faith rather than upon the alphabet and grammar of the Catholic theological tradition,” she says.
From the 1960s through the 1980s and early 1990s, religious teaching in schools had little intellectual content and concentrated almost entirely on the emotional dimensions of the faith.
“The Second Vatican Council emphasised the emotional side of the faith in an attempt redress what it saw as a lopsided intellectual emphasis in the years before the Council convened,” Professor Rowland explains. But the result was that over the next two and a half decades the affective or emotional dimensions of the faith began to dominate intellectual dimensions.
“As human beings we don’t only have intellect, we have a heart as well and in faith formation both are important. Since the 1990s there has been an attempt to redress this imbalance so that religious education in schools creates an ideal balance between the affective and intellectual dimensions of the faith. And this is starting to happen,” she says.
Together with the increase in interest among Catholics of all ages to discover and learn more about their faith has been the upsurge in interest in the 2000 year history of the Church and the history of the development of theological ideas, Professor Rowland adds.
Although Catholics in Australia increasingly have to deal with a secular society and self-proclaimed atheists, the Dean of the John Paul II Institute believes in some ways this makes it easier rather than harder for those of faith.
“The contrast between the lifestyle of someone who is Christian and someone who has no contact with this tradition is becoming stark with the difference between the two so much clearer that people realise they have to make a choice. It is no longer possible to be a little bit Christian or a little bit secular. Instead it has became of deciding whether you “For Christ” or “Against Him.”
The second Order of Malta lecture on a date yet to be announced will be presented by Ms Anna Krohn, National Bioethics Convenor for the Catholic Women’s League who will speak on “Eros and Agape: Papal Teaching on Sexuality since 1960.”
Professor Tracey Rowland’s inaugural Order of Malta Lecture, “The Three Theological Virtues: Why do faith, hope and love matter in the 21st Century” will be held at 6.30 pm on Tuesday 27 August at Lecture Theatre No 3, Level 3, University of Notre Dame, Sydney, 104 Broadway, Chippendale.
Bookings essential as seating is limited. To book call 02 9331 8477 or email firstname.lastname@example.org