It’s OK to be Wrong.

The Catholic faith is awesome. Redeemed by the Son of God? The ability to receive the Lord’s grace while on earth through the sacraments? Hundreds of saints to read about and ask for intercession from? There is so much about our faith to know and enjoy!

Due to this plethora of knowledge though, it can be daunting to attempt to learn about everything Catholicism has to offer. As eager as we might be to learn about the faith, our human minds have a limit. Even if your idea of wild Friday night is reading the Catechism past 10 PM, it is impossible to know everything about anything, especially for people who are new to their faith, or those have just begun to dive into their faith.

Since it is impossible for any one individual to know everything about the faith, this can lead to us forming beliefs or attitudes about Catholicism that aren’t entirely true. This is completely normal; people want to fill in the blanks of what they don’t know with assumptions, and sometimes those assumptions are wrong. That being said, we cannot hold onto these beliefs when presented with the truth of our faith, as informed by Scripture and Tradition. The truth needs to be sought and upheld above everything else.

Truth>Everything Else

What we know to be true, either through learning from others or our own experiences, is something that we like to believe is firm. For example, something like 2+2=4 is a firm truth because it is logical. We want things to make sense to us, and that same thought process is true for other pieces of information. We want the things that we interact with during our day to make sense with what we previously learned or believed.

The primary problem that people, myself included, seem to run into when learning something that contradicts a belief that we’ve held is that we don’t want to admit that the previous belief or bit of information they held is wrong. Even when confronted with facts or other observations that contrast our answers, it might feel like we somehow “lose” when we admit we were, to a certain extent, wrong. People don’t want to lose or feel stupid, so sometimes they avoid situations where that might happen.

In a society where an attitude of “I’m always right, you’re always wrong” is prevalent, it is crucial that we avoid that mindset and instead, recognize truth for what it is. When we simply stick to our guns instead of accepting when, in our finite and human intellect, we might be wrong, we are choosing arrogance and close-mindedness instead of the beautiful opportunity to learn. As shocking as it might be to be presented with information that might go against our own beliefs about our faith, we cannot ignore truth. It is better to admit wrong and move on then cling to what you think is right like a life raft.

Sit Down, Be (Graciously) Humble

Again, there is a lot to know about the faith, and even if you are a Bible scholar, there can still be aspects of it that you’ve been misguided on. There is no shame in being wrong, as long as we can graciously accept that. What might happen when we accept that we were wrong though is the feeling that we just “lost.” That somehow, us not being correct about everything under the sun makes us a loser. This is anything but true.

Learning something new is not a loss. In fact, it is quite the opposite. When there is a truth that we did not previously know, or we had previously thought something different, learning to accept our previous assumptions as wrong is a beautiful thing. Humility and education are both glorious things to strive for, regardless of what we previously thought. The only stopping us from entering into this newly-presented knowledge and lifestyle is our own pride or stubbornness.

I recently read through the excellent book 33 Days to Morning Glory, a self-described “do-it-yourself retreat.” In it, it describes Mary as “the second Immaculate Conception,” an idea that I struggled to fully grasp upon my first reading. Instead of just moving on and accepting that I was not going to understand that concept, I took the time out to re-read that chapter as well as look online for other explanations/re-wordings of the concept. Eventually, I understood the idea and moved on with the reading.

I wanted to ignore that I had discovered something that challenged the way I had thought about things. This is the easy way out of things, but that ignorance is extremely dangerous, potentially even detrimental to us learning about the faith. It is okay to not wish to struggle with something, but we should still try to understand what is being shared or taught to us.

There is no requirement to be right about everything we’re involved; if that existed, then we would all be in a lot of trouble. That being said, why is it that sometimes we feel the need to know everything about Catholicism? With all the scholars, saints and stories involved in our faith, to think that we know everything about it is foolish.

Willing to Admit You’re Wrong — a Guide

What follows are a few simple tips to step into this attitude and mindset of humble learning. You don’t have to be perfect, nor do people expect you to be.

Remember that being presented with new knowledge is not a personal attack. As previously mentioned, we don’t want to be wrong. What needs to be remembered though is that when people try and offer information we previously didn’t know, it is not in an attempt to belittle you. Being wrong is not preferred, but being corrected is not an insult.

It’s okay that you’re not the next St. Thomas Aquinas. Do we all want to be saints? Yes! That being said, we cannot all be scholars of the Church. There are those who have that gift and passion for reading those things, and that is a beautiful thing. Not all of us have that gift though, and that is perfectly okay.

Research! The internet is one of the best things you can use whenever you’re curious about something, but especially when there is a disagreement between two people about facts. There is a plethora of resources accessible to everybody about all theological topics; it just takes some searching.

We should strive for truth and knowledge in all things and this is especially true for Church teachings and traditions. To humbly step into truth and letting go of pride, we gain further understanding of our beautiful faith.