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The Resurrection, Education and Learning How to Make Mistakes

“Faith in the Risen Christ transforms life, bringing about within us a continuous resurrection” (Benedict XVI).

During Eastertide, the Church proposes that we live with an awareness of the most staggering historical fact: the man, Jesus of Nazareth, was crucified, died, was buried, and then, on the third day, rose from the dead. Moreover, this is not simply an event confined to the past, rather we ourselves “have been raised with Christ” (Col 3:1). Hence, the presence of the Risen Christ “should illumine and transform our daily lives” (cf. Benedict XVI).

I recently heard it said that one of the chief goals of education is that of learning how to make mistakes. On the one hand, this means that growing in knowledge and wisdom necessitates engaging in the kind of risky discovery in which we might make a mistake—take the wrong road, say something that is not true, etc. Genuine discovery requires that we move beyond the “safe” confines of the beaten path and the contentedness with the status quo (i.e., not simply seeking the to find the “correct answers,” or to avoid hurting someone’s feelings). On the other hand, this also requires living in a community in which others have the courage to point out to you your mistakes, and likewise having the courage to admit that one has made a mistake. Such a community in which mistakes (when admitted) are valued as an opportunity to grow, is, in educational jargon called a “culture of error.” A culture of error is a positive thing. In fact, it is an essential ingredient for improvement and growth.

Do we as Catholics know how to live this way? Yes, we do! Every time we go to mass, we begin with the confetior. It is recommended that we go to confession at least once a month. The Catholic Church is a “culture of error” in this sense, educating us to readily acknowledge “what I have done and what I have failed to do … my fault, my fault, my most grievous fault.” Ultimately, what can enable us “to learn how to make mistakes”? Only the presence of the Risen Christ truly capacitates us to face our mistakes and allow them to become, in Him, an opportunity for growth—redemption. Without His love, we would be crushed beneath the burden and shame of our incapacity and failures. Benedict XVI notes that perhaps this is the reason why the world tends to deny that sin exists because it has turned away from Jesus Christ and therefore cannot bear the thought of its own sin.

The Church sets aside the fifty days days of Eastertide to focus, in a particular way, on this proclamation, “He is truly risen!” In so doing we are challenged to learn, in the context of our own lives, how to make mistakes knowing that Christ can bring about in us a “continuous resurrection.”