This is not a very good explanation, but it has a lot of significance to me. I have studied Catholicism just enough to know it has an immense history and scholarship behind it. Saint after saint; miracle after miracle; theologian after theologian. I remember, years ago, seeing the Vatican microfilm collection in a library at St. Louis University. Even in microfilm, it was immense. All those documents. All that wisdom. All that faith.
And am I one, then, to reinvent that wheel? Am I so smart that I can outdo the Doctors of the Church and all the theologians who have expounded so much wisdom for these 2000 years past? Can I really be holier than all the saints whose numbers are so huge that the calendar is nowhere near sufficient for them all to have a feast day?
Yet, I reflect, that the Church, for all its wisdom and for all its holiness is a gentle teacher. It has one objective only; to get me to heaven. Yes, there are many others, but its specific objective is each soul, individually. The Church really wants to get me there, and has expended all those centuries of effort and all those prayers and all those sacrifices to do that. The Church doesn’t shoot fireballs at me, or require that I blow myself up or sacrifice my children or sacrifice forty bulls each week. It gently tries to persuade me that I owe a debt of gratitude to Him who made me, and made me only for my own happiness. It tries to persuade me that every other person is equally the object of God’s love and must be treated as such.
I think of the foregoing as my “don’t reinvent the wheel” justification for my faith. Aleksander Solzhenitzyn (Orthodox himself) reflected more than once on the humility of Catholics; how accepting they are and so often possessed with a titanic humility. I allow myself to think of “not reinventing the wheel” as perhaps a small part of that humility. I admit I have a long way to go. But, as I said, I have a gentle teacher.