So many people I talk to kind of give me a blank stare when I tell them I love math and science. I’ll admit, it’s not for everyone, but I think everyone can relate to one of the main reasons I love research. I love it because it is solving a PUZZLE!
Based on past people’s research you know x and y, but you don’t know how z works. So you run experiments and then you analyze the results. When you get them and if they fit perfectly like the last piece of a puzzle… MAN OH MAN! That is the BEST feeling in the world!!!
Granted.... this isn’t always how science works. Most often when you get that answer about z, it leads to more questions. Z works in THIS way, but that doesn’t make sense with what we know about Q, so I need to investigate Q more so that I can REALLY get the whole picture.
Going down the rabbit hole long enough gets you looking something like this:
But because of this long winding road of asking question after question, it is the GREATEST feeling in a scientific career when you come to the end of that journey. When you’ve exhausted that one continuous path of questions, when it all makes sense. At this point you compose yourself and neatly organize all your notes and data, writing it out into a concise article. (Scientific journals don’t accept train of thought boards) Success! Accomplishment!
I think probably why I have jumped so headfirst into my faith is because I get the same feeling from learning about it. I see the Church and I see that it is an institution made up of humans, flawed humans, so if they were to create something, it too would have so many flaws that people would be discovering all the time. But instead, I see how this, just like the nature I study in science, is created by God, and it is done so perfectly. Yes, individual humans might lead us astray in tiny ways temporarily, but those few things are so small compared to all of the perfect puzzle pieces you can find when you dig into the Church and why some of the traditions are followed.
One of these instances that I recently came across has to do with the altar in a church. I have always known that when a church is established, relics from Saints are put into that altar. I always thought this was a cool but kind of weird tradition of the Catholic Church. Why do we want dust of some person who lived centuries ago to be in the table where we have the eternal banquet of the Lamb?
If I had to wager a guess, I previously thought maybe we did so in order to ask their intercession each time that we break bread on this altar… but... we don’t need them for that. Jesus is PHYSICALLY THERE every time. Why would we need to ask them to talk to Jesus for us when we’ve got the real deal right in front of us?
So I looked into it. I read a number of articles. I read a number of books. Then I began to learn about the past and the future.
Past: Back in the days of the Hebrew people when the temple was still around, they would offer sacrifices before the altar of the Lord. The way this works is that they would put the sacrifice in front of the altar, but the blood from the sacrifice would pool below the altar and below the sacrifice.
Future: In the book of Revelation it talks a LOT about the eternal banquet. And when it mentions what is below the altar, it talks of the ones who shed blood for the faith. “When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;” (Revelation 6:9) This would be the ones who sacrificed or were sacrificed for the Church. These are the saints and the martyrs.
Today: In keeping with tradition and really joining in the ways of Heaven, we too put some small piece of those who sacrificed beneath our altar.
What?!? That is way cooler and way more perfect of an answer than my original idea that maybe we want them to intercede for us. Instead, we are physically mirroring the altar of the Lord in Heaven. That is amazing!
But this is just one example. The Church is full of so many interesting things that are so perfectly put together that no mortal man could have come up with it. What sort of things have you ever wondered about the Church? Look it up! Catholic Answers is a really great place to find insightful answers to your burning questions (http://www.catholic.com), but because the Catholic Church has been around a long time and there have been so many brilliant men and women of the faith, there are many more resources out there to answer your questions. All you have to do is ask. You could even ask me. (firstname.lastname@example.org) Maybe I’ve run across the answer in my previous research, or I may look into it for a future blog.
The gospel of Matthew says,
This doesn’t say, “IF you ask, then it will be given to you” or “IF you seek, then you will find”. God is insistent that we must ask, and we must seek. All of these questions we hold in our hearts, take them to the Lord. What have you always wanted to know? I know I have many more questions, and I look forward to the day I get answers and I get the joy of seeing how it all perfectly fits together.