How the Navy Taught Me to be a Better Catholic


One of the first things you learn when you are in training to be a Reactor Operator is Basic Electricity and Electronics, or B-double-E. A solid foundation for the rest that you will learn in order to be successful in your job. In our training program, we have to go over a vast amount of material in a relatively short time. It is much faster-paced and dense than most college curricula. Because of this, there is not enough time to explain the origin of all of the theories and formulas which we employ. To try and diffuse our persistent, “But why?” questions, Chief instituted this simple practice:

The “I Believe” Button

So, there would be concepts that he would introduce, saying, “This is the way it is. You’re going to have to trust me and hit your ‘I Believe’ button, so we can continue.”

In a way, the Church is full of opportunities for us to hit our “I Believe” buttons. The very nature of the Church herself is a mystery. God is a mystery. Sacraments are a mystery. Faith is a mystery. We can understand these things to a degree, but never in totality, due to the infinite nature of God.

Because I have been conditioned by my military training to take some things on faith, I am better disposed to submitting my intellect and my will to the teaching of the Magisterium on matters of faith and morals.

I know that it’s possible to not know exactly how everything works, but trust that I will have enough knowledge to get the job done (or in the case of the Church, be provided with all the knowledge necessary for my salvation and my mission to evangelize others).

It is also a reminder to me to be humble, for there are things which I don’t know, and there are things I will never completely understand and that’s okay. My worth and dignity aren’t based on the knowledge filling my brain, or the sharpness of my intellect, but rather the way I live my life according to the faith.

I am glad that I have had this idea presented to me, so that when confronted with a difficulty, instead of allowing it to present a question in my faith because I don’t have an answer, I can hit my “I Believe” button and be strengthened in my faith. Because I trust in the Holy Spirit which guides the Church according to His Truth.

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