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Why should we care about our history?

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Can there be an American citizen who does not know those historic words delivered by President Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, Pa., on Nov. 19, 1863? They constitute one of the pillars upon which our American culture rests, a living culture fathered and mothered from human experience that is now thousands of years old.

Not to know history is to have no parentage, rendering us illegitimate children who wander through the streets of human experience living purposeless, meaningless, and repetitious lives. As the famous philosopher George Santayana once wrote: Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

A liberal arts education liberates us from being held hostage by what is immediate. If we are conscious only of what we want to do now we will be enslaved by our feelings, having no strong convictions forged from human experience. Another philosopher, George Wilhelm Hegel, once warned us: What experience and history teach is this – that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles. As Americans we have much yet to learn and put into our lives.

God’s Word comes to us through our history. Our Catholic faith is nothing if it is not historical. Each Mass brings with it the lives and legacies of billions of human beings who have been touched by God in Christ and made present to us in the Lord of history who loves us here and now and wants nothing less than to liberate us. The Jewish Passover is a celebration of freedom coming to them from history. Our Catholic Mass continues from that origin so that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:21).

What do you know about your family’s history? Learn it now lest it be lost to you and you know not who you are and what you have within you. What do you know of our Catholic history? Learn it now lest you become a helpless victim of passing fads and live without all that the Bread of Life can give you in order that you might face this world and find your true self.

Treasures from the past to enrich and empower your life await your discovery.