Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Experience – Is it the WORST teacher, or the BEST?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Someone once wrote that experience is the WORST teacher, because it gives a test FIRSTTHEN teaches the lesson AFTERWARD.

In some way, I rather think that correct, while – as you’ll read – in yet another perspective, it may be the best… but only if you listen.

On the Preventative Medicine of The Church’s Wisdom and Experience

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

I refuse to listen. I don't want to hear it. My mind is like concrete: thoroughly mixed, and permanently set.

As a teenager I remember resenting how adults would try and prevent me from doing what I pleased. They would often warn me not to “learn the hard way” that something was wrong. I would often be told that I should learn from them and their experiences not to make the same mistakes they did. The rebel in me thought that it might be fun and pleasurable to “make a few mistakes of my own.” Of course I pridefully thought that I would escape the consequences.

In the end of course they were right, and one the most valuable gifts I have received from others to have learned from their experience. As a pastor too I must say that my staff has preserved me from innumerable errors through their expertise and long experience with the parish.

The word “experience” comes from the Latin experientia, meaning the act of trying or testing. More deeply it comes from two Latin words,  ex (out of) + periri (which is akin to periculum, meaning peril or danger). Hence “experience” refers to those have endured trials, perils, testing, and dangers, and speak out of these to us so we don’t have to endure such things. It is a very great gift!

The Church too offers us the great gift of long experience. Indeed, one of the great advantages of making our home in the Catholic Church is that we are at the feet of a wise and experienced teacher who has “seen it all.” The Scriptures, the Catechism, the lives of the Saints, all the Church’s teaching,  is a wealth of knowledge and collected experience for us. Through this vast treasury The Church, as a good mother and teacher, helps us to learn from the experiences of others.

At this point I would like for G.K. Chesterton to do the talking:

The other day a well-known writer, otherwise quite well-informed, said that the Catholic Church is always the enemy of new ideas. It probably did not occur to him that his own remark was not exactly in the nature of a new idea. …Nevertheless, the man who made that remark about Catholics meant something….What he meant was that, in the modern world, the Catholic Church is in fact the enemy of many influential fashions; most of which … claim to be new. [But] nine out of ten of what we call new ideas, are simply old mistakes.

The Catholic Church has for one of her chief duties that of preventing people from making those old mistakes; from making them over and over again forever, as people always do if they are left to themselves….There is no other case of one continuous intelligent institution that has been thinking about thinking for two thousand years. Its experience naturally covers nearly all experiences; and nearly all errors.

The result is a map in which all the blind alleys and bad roads are clearly marked, all the ways that have been shown to be worthless by the best of all evidence: the evidence of those who have gone down them. On this map of the mind the errors are marked…[but] the greater part of it consists of playgrounds and happy hunting-fields, where the mind may have as much liberty as it likes. But [the Church] does definitely take the responsibility of marking certain roads as leading nowhere or leading to destruction…
By this means, it does prevent men from wasting their time or losing their lives upon paths that have been found futile or disastrous again and again in the past, but which might otherwise entrap travelers again and again in the future.

Cover of "The Collected Works of G.K. Che...

Cover via Amazon

The Church does make herself responsible for warning her people against these; she does dogmatically defend humanity from its worst foes… Now all false issues have a way of looking quite fresh, especially to a fresh generation. ..[But] we must have something that will hold the four corners of the world still, while we make our social experiments or build our Utopias. (From Twelve Modern Apostles and Their Creeds (1926). Reprinted in The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton, Vol. 3 Ignatius Press 1990)

Yes, what a gift. Many may take of the role of a pouty teenager and be resentful at any warning from the Church. But in the end, It’s a mighty fine gift to be able to learn from others and benefit from their experience. Here’s a funny ad  from yesterday’s Super Bowl that illustrates this:


2 Responses to “Experience – Is it the WORST teacher, or the BEST?”

  1. I was one of thousands of kids sexually abused by a catholic priest who did not sue the church. It caused me to question the church and I started studying the bible for myself.

    What I discovered was that 95% of catholic doctrine is in DIRECT CONTRADICTION to biblical teachings.

    I could do a whole dissertation here but I will give you just two direct commands of Christ that the church ignroes and goes against. Jesus said “that when you pray, don’t pray as the heathen do in vain repetitions because they think that they will be heard for their much speaking”. The rosary is much repetition and were modeled after mid eastern prayer beads which chanting is done over and over.

    Catholics pray to Mary and Jesus said, “no man comes to the father except through me”.

    Most of your blogs I agree with, The catholic church I definitely can’t agree with. There is much more where that came from if you care to hear it.
    Every ex catholic who became a christian like I did has the same reaction, those priests lied to us and mislead us. I have nothing against catholics per se, just the hierarchy who so horribly misleads trusting people.

    Blessings on you and yours
    John Wilder


    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      I am well aware that you have previously shared, and my heart certainly goes out to you. However, no one damned Protestantism for the sexual misbehavior of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard, Lonnie Frisbee, Billy James Hargis, Roy Clements, John Paulk, Paul Crouch, Douglas Goodman, Nathan Braun, Paul Barnes, Earl Paulk, Michael Reid, Joe Barron, George Alan Rekers, Eddie L. Long, et al. And that’s only a partial list of those whose sexual sin found them out. There are others who defrauded, lied, stole, and more – all whom happen to be Protestant.

      It seems to me, John, that you left. I came. You quit. I joined.

      Oh, and John… it’s regrettable that your cathechist and cathechism didn’t “take,” and that you were so lazy, and made no effort until after you were trespassed against. You can’t blame your problems on another. (Do you get the sense that I’m starting to zero in on your error? If not, my brother… you should.)

      John, your remark “Catholics pray to Mary and Jesus said, “no man comes to the father except through me”.” is a fundamental error not only in the fact that it “mixes metaphors” (metaphorically speaking, of course) but that remark is itself one that a Protestant would make… NOT a “cradle” Catholic, such as yourself. You were blessed to be born in the family. It’s a sorrow that you have rejected your family and mother.

      Your remarks seem to belie a degree of bitterness and resentment by taking an “it’s all sour grapes, anyway” attitude. On the other hand, I take a 2000+ year view. It seems to me to be entirely regrettable that your catechism was not either a.) effectively understood by you, or b.) taught to you. Both of those are indeed a human failure – we all have them – myself included.

      John, following is a copy of my reply to you in at least two previous entries. This, I believe, makes the third. I stand by what I have written, and I have emailed you and invited you privately, and I now invite you publicly to be my guest to write an entry and take one topic of your choosing, and we shall discuss it at length.

      Now, my friend. It is up to you. Are you eloquent, studied or man enough to contend for the faith, to defend the faith of our Fathers and the Apostles, or will you cower and assert things you cannot possibly prove? You have asserted – or so challenged, and I have accepted your surreptitiously oblique challenge.

      I eagerly await your reply, and look forward to your guest column.

      I remain most kindly, your brother in the faith of our Fathers.

      Pope blesses special lambs on Feast of St. Agnes

      Thanks, John! Yes, I recollect that you had previously shared information about your unfortunate experience.

      Specifically, it was in response to: https://warmsouthernbreeze.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/the-pursuit-of-happyness/#comment-894

      My remarks were:
 Submitted on 2011/01/05 at 12:30 AM | In reply to John Wilder.

      “Hi John! It’s good to hear from you again! I do appreciate your readership. First, I am genuinely sad to read of your suffering and tragedy. There is simply no excuse for what happened to you, or to other innocents. As deeply tragic as your childhood emotional injury is, there is healing – as I’m certain you already know. An integral part of healing – and one that simply cannot be ignored – is an understanding of the nature of forgiveness; for we too, we all, are in desperate need of a savior. Our own forgiveness is predicated – as the LORD said – by our own ability to forgive. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Regarding the claim that “about 90% of Catholic doctrine is in direct contradiction to Biblical teachings,” that’s a rather broad brush, and hence, difficult – if not impossible – to address, much less understand precisely and exactly which “Biblical teachings” are “in direct contradiction,” as you assert. Let’s address a few topics point-by-point in another, separate entry, shall we?”

      You’ll forgive me, I hope, since I do not know “95% of Catholic doctrine,” so it would be an egregious error of the highest order for me to make any such overly broad or otherwise sweeping assertion. I can, however, point out that you had previously asserted “90% of Catholic doctrine,” whereas now you assert “95% of Catholic doctrine.” Perhaps you’ve done more studying? *Haha!* If you are willing, I would be also – as I previously wrote – to “address a few topics point-by-point in another, separate entry.“


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