Rather than an in-class final exam, I give my students a take-home final in an effort to allow them to bring together and appropriate the material of the semester. This year I gave them as a title for their paper: ""Exploring Catholicism: A Tapestry of the Journey." I also reminded them of some of the overarching principles that structured our journey and that they might use as threads for their tapestry.Reading their papers (some of them quite fine) prevented me until this morning from catching up with yesterday's New York Times. There I found Peter Steinfels own account of the tapestry he has woven in the course of writing 486 "Beliefs" columns. He also identifies some of the "threads" that have distinguished his weaving.He identifies six, and one will immediately recognize the nuanced Steinfels' pattern. Each of us will appreciate one or more of the six in a particular way. Here is one that especially resonated with me (for obvious reasons):

Third, intelligence and critical reasoning are essential to adult approaches to faith. In short, theology matters. It is curious that so many otherwise thoughtful people imagine that what they learned about religion by age 13, or perhaps 18, will suffice for the rest of their lives. They would never make the same assumption about science, economics, art, sex or love.

The one downside to the column comes at the end:

The next Beliefs column will be the last.

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.

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