Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 11-25 Aim, Structure of the Catechism and How to Use it

clock October 12, 2012 01:02 by author John |

Today's sections from the catechism are mostly instructive about the catechism itself. I have included more paragraphs than normal today since they are shorter and rather light on theological and catechetical content. It is good to understand how the catechism is structured and where the teaching comes from, so I encourage you to read through these paragraphs in preparation for the heavier content that will start with tomorrow's paragraphs.

III. The Aim and Intended Readership of the Catechism

11 This catechism aims at presenting an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals, in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church's Tradition. Its principal sources are the Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy, and the Church's Magisterium. It is intended to serve "as a point of reference for the catechisms or compendia that are composed in the various countries".15

12 This work is intended primarily for those responsible for catechesis: first of all the bishops, as teachers of the faith and pastors of the Church. It is offered to them as an instrument in fulfilling their responsibility of teaching the People of God. Through the bishops, it is addressed to redactors of catechisms, to priests, and to catechists. It will also be useful reading for all other Christian faithful.

There are a couple of interesting things to note in the above paragraphs. First, it should be noted that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is to be used by everyone. The bishops use this resource as do lay people. They are not privy to some special book that has more or different information. The revealed truth is available to all and is summarized in the catechism.

IV. Structure of this Catechism

13 The plan of this catechism is inspired by the great tradition of catechisms which build catechesis on four pillars: the baptismal profession of faith (the Creed), the sacraments of faith, the life of faith (the Commandments), and the prayer of the believer (the Lord's Prayer).

Part One: the Profession of Faith

14 Those who belong to Christ through faith and Baptism must confess their baptismal faith before men.16 First therefore the Catechism expounds revelation, by which God addresses and gives himself to man, and the faith by which man responds to God (Section One). the profession of faith summarizes the gifts that God gives man: as the Author of all that is good; as Redeemer; and as Sanctifier. It develops these in the three chapters on our baptismal faith in the one God: the almighty Father, the Creator; his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour; and the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, in the Holy Church (Section Two).

Part Two: the Sacraments of Faith

15 The second part of the Catechism explains how God's salvation, accomplished once for all through Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is made present in the sacred actions of the Church's liturgy (Section One), especially in the seven sacraments (Section Two).

Part Three: the Life of Faith

16 The third part of the Catechism deals with the final end of man created in the image of God: beatitude, and the ways of reaching it - through right conduct freely chosen, with the help of God's law and grace (Section One), and through conduct that fulfills the twofold commandment of charity, specified in God's Ten Commandments (Section Two).

Part Four: Prayer in the Life of Faith

17 The last part of the Catechism deals with the meaning and importance of prayer in the life of believers (Section One). It concludes with a brief commentary on the seven petitions of the Lord's Prayer (Section Two), for indeed we find in these the sum of all the good things which we must hope for, and which our heavenly Father wants to grant us.

The catechism of the Catholic Church is divided into 4 sections, each of which touches on a separate aspect of the Catholic faith, which can be condensed into 2 ideas: 1) What we believe, and 2) how we participate in it. Parts 1 and 3 involve the understanding of the faith. Parts 2 and 4 involve how we participate in it.

V. Practical Directions for Using this Catechism

18 This catechism is conceived as an organic presentation of the Catholic faith in its entirety. It should be seen therefore as a unified whole. Numerous cross-references in the margin of the text (numbers found at the end of a sentence referring to other paragraphs that deal with the same theme), as well as the analytical index at the end of the volume, allow the reader to view each theme in its relationship with the entirety of the faith.

19 The texts of Sacred Scripture are often not quoted word for word but are merely indicated by a reference (cf.). For a deeper understanding of such passages, the reader should refer to the Scriptural texts themselves. Such Biblical references are a valuable working-tool in catechesis.

20 The use of small print in certain passages indicates observations of an historical or apologetic nature, or supplementary doctrinal explanations.

21 The quotations, also in small print, from patristic, liturgical, magisterial or hagiographical sources, are intended to enrich the doctrinal presentations. These texts have often been chosen with a view to direct catechetical use.

22 At the end of each thematic unit, a series of brief texts in small italics sums up the essentials of that unit's teaching in condensed formulae. These "IN BRIEF" summaries may suggest to local catechists brief summary formulae that could be memorized.

VI. Necessary Adaptations

23 The Catechism emphasizes the exposition of doctrine. It seeks to help deepen understanding of faith. In this way it is oriented towards the maturing of that faith, its putting down roots in personal life, and its shining forth in personal conduct.17

24 By design, this Catechism does not set out to provide the adaptation of doctrinal presentations and catechetical methods required by the differences of culture, age, spiritual maturity, and social and ecclesial condition among all those to whom it is addressed. Such indispensable adaptations are the responsibility of particular catechisms and, even more, of those who instruct the faithful:

Whoever teaches must become "all things to all men" (⇒ I Cor 9:22), to win everyone to Christ. . . Above all, teachers must not imagine that a single kind of soul has been entrusted to them, and that consequently it is lawful to teach and form equally all the faithful in true piety with one and the same method! Let them realize that some are in Christ as newborn babes, others as adolescents, and still others as adults in full command of their powers.... Those who are called to the ministry of preaching must suit their words to the maturity and understanding of their hearers, as they hand on the teaching of the mysteries of faith and the rules of moral conduct.18

Above all - Charity

25 To conclude this Prologue, it is fitting to recall this pastoral principle stated by the Roman Catechism:

The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.19

#25 may be one of the most important paragraphs in the Catechism. It reminds us that our perspective on the teachings of the faith should be oriented toward the understanding that those teachings are intended to guide us to union with God. Our profession of faith helps us understand God, who we love and who loves us. The understanding of the sacraments helps us to make use of them and to know how God's grace flows through them. The commandments help us to love God whether it is directly or by loving His creatures and institutions. Finally learning value and fruits of the prayer life help us to build our relationship with God.


Footnotes

15 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops 1985, Final Report II B a, 4.
16 Cf. ⇒ Mt 10:32;⇒ Rom 10:9
17 Cf. CT 20-22; 25.
18 Roman Catechism, Preface II; cf. ⇒ I Cor 9:22; ⇒ I Pt 2:2
19 Roman Catechism, Preface 10; cf. ⇒ I Cor 13 8.



Disgrace - Jesuit University President Withers Under Pressure - Will Pay for Contraception

clock October 11, 2012 08:44 by author John |

Xavier University President Fr. Michael Graham, S.J. stood up for the teachings of the Church and refused to pay for contraception in the University’s health care plan. After some faculty members raised a stink about it, he reversed course and has sold out to the relativists.

This is the first case I am aware of in which a Catholic institution has opposed the HHS Mandate and then reversed course. Let us all pray for Fr. Graham, the faculty, staff, and students of Xavier University that our Lord will touch their hearts and help them to return to the teachings of the Church. In the meantime, if you are looking for a good Catholic College for yourself or your children, browse around the Cardinal Newman Society website. They are pretty good at identifying faithful, solid Catholic schools.

My personal recommendation is of course my alma mater, Franciscan University, where you can be taught by some of the greatest minds in the Catholic Church like Dr. Scott Hahn, Dr. Regis Martin, Dr. Alan Schreck, and Dr. Mark Miravalle. The faculty takes an oath of loyalty to the Church’s magisterium, and Franciscan was the first University in America to institute the oath – back in 1989.

Here is an excerpt from the post over at the Cardinal Newman Society about Xavier University’s disgraceful decision…

Jesuit University Reverses Itself, Will Cover Contraceptives

A Jesuit university that saw faculty protests after the president of the university announced earlier this year that it would no longer cover contraceptives in its insurance plan has now reportedly reversed itself and announced that it will in fact continue to cover contraceptives.

In an interview with Cincinnati.com, Xavier University President Fr. Michael Graham, S.J., said that in light of the Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare, he is reversing himself and the university will cover contraceptives for its 950 employees. And on top of that, he seemed to apologize for not being in the “center” on this issue.

Continue reading the full article =>



Bishop Alexander Sample Issues Pastoral Letter on New Evangelization and Year of Faith

clock October 11, 2012 08:19 by author John |

Bishop Alexander Sample of the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan has issued a pastoral letter entitled “We Wish to See Jesus” on the New Evangelization and the Year of Faith. The letter is well-written and touches on some important realizations for both the diocese of Marquette and the Church as a whole. Here are some of the salient points of the letter:

It has been said that the Church has been in somewhat of a "maintenance" mode for too long. It seems that we in the Diocese of Marquette, at least in many areas, have been working hard to maintain what we have, to hold on to it. We can no longer be satisfied with such a posture. It is time for us to move from "maintenance" to "mission."  It is time to take up again the mission that Jesus Christ has given to us to proclaim the Gospel and draw others to life in Christ and in his Church.

Bishop Sample set forth the seven priorities for the New Evangelization as identified by John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte:

Pastoral Priorities for the New Evangelization:

1. Holiness…
2. Prayer…
3. The Sunday Eucharist…
4. The Sacrament of Reconciliation…
5. The Primacy of Grace…
6. Listening to the Word…
7. Proclaiming the Word…

Drawing on Pope Benedict’s warnings of the Dictatorship of Relativism, and radical secularism, Bishop Sample outlined three fronts of the New Evangelization:

If we consider that we are engaged in a true struggle against such forces, and taking our direction from the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, this great pastoral initiative will be conducted on three different “fronts” as we battle for the salvation of souls in our time:

1. The Liturgy…
2. Faith Formation and Catechesis…
3. Charity…

Bishop Sample also proposed 2 particular actions that Catholics in his diocese should take up in order to support the work of the Year of Faith:

While not discouraging other individual prayers and sacrifices, as bishop and shepherd of the flock entrusted to my care in the Diocese of Marquette, I make the following earnest appeal. Since we are all members of the Mystical Body of Christ, united by the Holy Spirit in the bonds of faith, hope and love, I appeal to all Catholics in the Diocese of Marquette to observe the following as communal prayer and penance in support of our efforts at the New Evangelization:


1. Abstinence from meat on all Fridays of the year, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. This sacrifice should be offered for the fruitfulness of our efforts in the New Evangelization.
2. The praying of one Rosary each week, asking for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary in our efforts in the New Evangelization. I would like to especially encourage families to pray this weekly Rosary together (“the family that prays together stays together”).

Read the entire letter here. It is an excellent way to start the Year of Faith.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 1-10 The Life of Man; Catechesis

clock October 11, 2012 01:05 by author John |

Today kicks off the Catechism study series for the Year of Faith. In general, this series will involve a cover-to-cover presentation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Each section will be presented along with some supporting commentary and/or Church documents. Today's topic is the first 10 paragraphs of the Catechism:

I. The life of man - to know and love God

1 God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Saviour. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.

2 So that this call should resound throughout the world, Christ sent forth the apostles he had chosen, commissioning them to proclaim the gospel: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."4 Strengthened by this mission, the apostles "went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it."5

3 Those who with God's help have welcomed Christ's call and freely responded to it are urged on by love of Christ to proclaim the Good News everywhere in the world. This treasure, received from the apostles, has been faithfully guarded by their successors. All Christ's faithful are called to hand it on from generation to generation, by professing the faith, by living it in fraternal sharing, and by celebrating it in liturgy and prayer.6

The Catechism begins with a description of the reason we were created - our purpose in life. Another perspective comes from the old Baltimore Catechism:

3. Why did God make us?

God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven.

Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love him. (I Corinthians 2:9)

4. What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?

To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world.

Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth; where the rust and moth consume and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven; where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. (Matthew 6:19-20)

The dogmatic Constitution, Lumen Gentium described the Universal Call to Holiness:

Thus it is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity; by this holiness as such a more human manner of living is promoted in this earthly society. In order that the faithful may reach this perfection, they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history. -Lumen Gentium 40

John Paul II proclaimed the New Evangelization repeatedly. The New Evangelization is our modern call to carry out the work of the Apostles:

Over the years, I have often repeated the summons to the new evangelization. I do so again now, especially in order to insist that we must rekindle in ourselves the impetus of the beginnings and allow ourselves to be filled with the ardour of the apostolic preaching which followed Pentecost. We must revive in ourselves the burning conviction of Paul, who cried out: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16). - John Paul II - Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte 40

 

II. Handing on the Faith: Catechesis

4 Quite early on, the name catechesis was given to the totality of the Church's efforts to make disciples, to help men believe that Jesus is the Son of God so that believing they might have life in his name, and to educate and instruct them in this life, thus building up the body of Christ.7

5 "Catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life."8

6 While not being formally identified with them, catechesis is built on a certain number of elements of the Church's pastoral mission which have a catechetical aspect, that prepare for catechesis, or spring from it. They are: the initial proclamation of the Gospel or missionary preaching to arouse faith; examination of the reasons for belief; experience of Christian living; celebration of the sacraments; integration into the ecclesial community; and apostolic and missionary witness.9

7 "Catechesis is intimately bound up with the whole of the Church's life. Not only her geographical extension and numerical increase, but even more her inner growth and correspondence with God's plan depend essentially on catechesis."10

8 Periods of renewal in the Church are also intense moments of catechesis. In the great era of the Fathers of the Church, saintly bishops devoted an important part of their ministry to catechesis. St. Cyril of Jerusalem and St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, and many other Fathers wrote catechetical works that remain models for us.11

9 "The ministry of catechesis draws ever fresh energy from the councils. The Council of Trent is a noteworthy example of this. It gave catechesis priority in its constitutions and decrees. It lies at the origin of the Roman Catechism, which is also known by the name of that council and which is a work of the first rank as a summary of Christian teaching. . "12 The Council of Trent initiated a remarkable organization of the Church's catechesis. Thanks to the work of holy bishops and theologians such as St. Peter Canisius, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Turibius of Mongrovejo or St. Robert Bellarmine, it occasioned the publication of numerous catechisms.

10 It is therefore no surprise that catechesis in the Church has again attracted attention in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, which Pope Paul Vl considered the great catechism of modern times. the General Catechetical Directory (1971) the sessions of the Synod of Bishops devoted to evangelization (1974) and catechesis (1977), the apostolic exhortations Evangelii nuntiandi (1975) and Catechesi tradendae (1979), attest to this. the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985 asked "that a catechism or compendium of all Catholic doctrine regarding both faith and morals be composed"13 The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, made the Synod's wish his own, acknowledging that "this desire wholly corresponds to a real need of the universal Church and of the particular Churches."14 He set in motion everything needed to carry out the Synod Fathers' wish.

The necessity of catechizing is of immense importance. Without knowing the faith, we cannot live it fully. Without teaching it to others, our evangelization is incomplete. John Paul II brought light to this reality in Catechesi Tradendae:

1. The Church has always considered catechesis one of her primary tasks, for, before Christ ascended to His Father after His resurrection, He gave the apostles a final command - to make disciples of all nations and to teach them to observe all that He had commanded. He thus entrusted them with the mission and power to proclaim to humanity what they had heard, what they had seen with their eyes, what they had looked upon and touched with their hands, concerning the Word of Life. He also entrusted them with the mission and power to explain with authority what He had taught them, His words and actions, His signs and commandments. And He gave them the Spirit to fulfill this mission.

Very soon the name of catechesis was given to the whole of the efforts within the Church to make disciples, to help people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, so that believing they might have life in His name, and to educate and instruct them in this life and thus build up the Body of Christ. The Church has not ceased to devote her energy to this task. - John Paul II - Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae 1

Footnotes:
4 ⇒ Mt 28:19-20
5 ⇒ Mk 16:20
6 Cf. ⇒ Acts 2:42

7 Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi tradendae 1; 2.
8 CT 18.
9 CT 18.
10 CT 13.
11 Cf. CT 12.
12 CT 13.
13 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops 1985,. Final Report II B a, 4.
14 John Paul II, Discourse at the Closing of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops 7 December 1985: AAS 78, (1986).



Is that Really What You Believe?

clock October 10, 2012 09:18 by author John |

Is That really what you believe?

So often these days I come across people who have various beefs with the Catholic Church. You have heard them, I am sure: The Church is anti-woman. The Church wants to enslave women by forcing them to have babies. The Church is anti-gay/homophobic. Frequently, they take an incredulous tone and mock our beliefs. They may ask us, “Is that really what you believe? Do you really believe God is in that cookie? Do you really believe that women shouldn’t have the right to make their own choices with their own bodies? Do you really believe that God is a misogynist? Do you really believe that God wants to throw everyone in Hell? How could a good God do that?”

The misconceptions about the Catholic Church are as rampant as ever, concomitantly exhibiting just enough ridiculousness to irritate the recipient of the charge. Often the accusation is so asinine that people simply cannot come up with a decent response. At this point, the skeptic claims victory and pats himself on the back, persisting in his ignorance.

I propose a simple response. It is not a defense of the faith in the purest sense. It isn’t some witty comeback or a deep theological insight. It is common sense. It is a quick jolt to the skeptic’s arrogance or ignorance as the case may be. This simple response will level the playing field and place the skeptic on his heels: “Is that really what you believe?”

Yes, ask the accuser if they really believe what they are saying. If they ask you why the church is anti-woman, reply simply, “Is that really what you believe? Do you really think the Church is anti-woman?” Chances are favorable that the person has not really devoted a great deal of time or effort into forming that opinion, and pointing out the folly in that opinion is likely to result in either a thoughtful moment of silence, or a retreat from the original proposition to something less outrageous or tangentially related.

Tone is everything in these conversations. You have to maintain a measured, thoughtful demeanor. If you scream, “Is that really what you believe!!!!”, then the person is likely to respond in kind. If you respond in a serious, patient tone, the conversation is likely to go somewhere productive.

Of course you then must be prepared with facts and a solid understanding of your faith to continue the conversation. The Year of Faith is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge of the faith and bring a thoughtful, reasoned perspective to the table. Study the Catechism, the lives of the saints, the documents of the Church, and the Bible. Follow along on this blog as we cover the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church in a year. We will be taking a few paragraphs at a time and supplementing it with deep theological insights from such giants of theological and philosophical thought as St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, St. Josemaría Escrivá, and Therese of Lisieux, scriptural references, and quotes from the saints. You will emerge ready for spiritual battle, ready to defend the faith, and most importantly, ready to grow closer to Jesus.



Sr. Joan Chittister Has a Tantrum When Asked About Contraception, Abortion, Ordination of Women

clock October 9, 2012 07:08 by author John |

Sister Joan Chittister recently was interviewed by LifeSiteNews. It started off cordially, but after being asked about her positions on certain teachings of the Church, she went into a full-out tantrum. It is actually rather amazing how some dissidents will dance around a question when it is presented plainly to them. Here is an exerpt:

JC: Now we're into infallibility. We have two infallible teachings in the Church.
LSN: Okay. Which teachings are those?
JC: Well, I expect you to know because you're the one asking the question. And this doesn't fall in either of those.
LSN: Okay. Well that would be somewhere where we differ in our opinion.
JC: Is this infallible?
LSN: What?
JC: I don't know. Whatever you're talking about. What are the infallible teachings in question?
LSN: Well, the question about women's “ordination”, contraception…
JC: Ordination is a question of infallibility?
LSN: Absolutely.
JC: Oh, well then what happened to Peter and his mother-in-law?
LSN: What do you mean?
JC: Well, Peter had a mother-in-law.
LSN: Yes?
JC: Well, was Peter allowed to be a priest? What are we doing here?
LSN: Yes.
JC: We had married priests all the way to the 13th century. None of them were priests?
LSN: I'm not talking about married ordination. I'm talking about women's ordination.
JC: Ah. Women's ordination. I see. That's your problem. Women, right.

Read the rest here ==>



Tuesday Ear Tickler: Hans Küng Calls for Revolution to End Church's 'Authoritarian' Rule

clock October 9, 2012 03:00 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is Hans Küng, the longtime adversary of the authentic teachings of the Church. Küng gave an interview with The Guardian, in which he called for open rebellion and revolution against the magisterium. Yep, that is a good way to earn yourself an Ear Tickler Award. Here are some of his more interesting assertions. (Küng’s comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

"The unconditional obedience demanded of bishops who swear their allegiance to the pope when they make their holy oath is almost as extreme as that of the German generals who were forced to swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler," he said.

Küng takes exception with the fact that the Catholic Church asks its bishops to be Catholic. Imagine that! Furthermore, he compares the Catholic Church to the Nazis! Generally, when you make a comparison with the Nazis, you have run out of significant points to make. The first problem with this comparison is that the Nazis were bad, forcing their soldier to swear loyalty to an evil institution. The Catholic Church on the other hand is good. It is the Church that Jesus Christ established. If the Church is so bad, as Küng proposes, why is he a member of it?

"The rules for choosing bishops are so rigid that as soon as candidates emerge who, say, stand up for the pill, or for the ordination of women, they are struck off the list."

So basically, Küng would like dissidents to be placed in positions of great influence in the Church. This is like asking the fire department to promote someone who advocates arson, or a bank to give the keys to the vault to a shoplifter. Look - if you are way out in in left field, you have no business leading a flock of believers. If you disagree with the Church’s teachings, you should probably assume that your positions are harmful to yourself, someone else, or the Church as a whole. How arrogant must you be to think that you have more wisdom than the teachings of Christ’s Church?

"The only way for reform is from the bottom up," said Küng, 84, who is a priest. "The priests and others in positions of responsibility need to stop being so subservient, to organise themselves and say that there are certain things that they simply will not put up with anymore."

So, who do you think Küng would want to be pope, then? My money is on Küng himself. Unless of course, he thinks we should do away with that pesky successor of Peter business and be more like the Unitarians. Never mind the Bible, the 2000 years of truth and Tradition. Never mind the institutions Christ established for the salvation of souls.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday, October 9, 2012 to Hans Küng.



How to Be a Good Catholic

clock October 8, 2012 19:29 by author John |

Being a good Catholic might be something you take for granted. Many times we have an inflated sense of self which causes us to assume that we are always or mostly always right. If that applies to you, (as it often does to me), then this list is for you. If you find that you are fulfilling everything on this list, then you are off to a good start in your practice of the Catholic faith. I say “good start” because it is never over until the day you stand in front of St. Peter at the pearly gates, and this list is just the basics. There are many other things which you can do to increase your faith and strengthen your relationship with God.

On the other hand, being a Catholic might be something that you are unfamiliar with. Maybe you are a recent convert to Catholicism, or maybe you haven’t started the journey yet, but you have been given the grace to seek out the Catholic faith. Maybe you are a lifelong Catholic and you just want to start living it fully. Regardless, this list should help you get a good start on that pursuit, which is a noble one.

1. Know your faith

The first step to becoming a good Catholic is to know what Catholicism is and what specifically it is that Catholics believe. There are many ways to do this including:

Study the Bible – The Bible, particularly the New Testament gives us the Word of God directly. It is important to understand the way God has interacted with us throughout the ages. This is known as salvation history. The Bible details all the works that have contributed to the salvation of the human race and each of us in particular.

Study the Catechism - The definitive source of this information is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism contains brief discussions of all the basics of the faith including what we believe, what our laws are, the sacraments, the commandments, and prayer. These are the essentials for living the Catholic faith authentically. The Catechism shows us how to interpret the truths proclaimed in the Bible in the way God intended.

While every Christian denomination (or at least most – there are some strange ones) professes to believe in the Bible, they all have a different interpretation of it. The Catholic Church has been given the assurance from Jesus that on matters of faith and morals, the teachings of the Church will always be true. Every faith has some portion of the truth, but only the Catholic Church has the fullness of the truth – all of it! The Catechism summarizes the truth as taught by the Catholic Church.

Read the lives of the saints – The Saints are our examples in holiness. They show us the way to live virtuous lives. Throughout history, holy men and women have sought God and brought many souls to Him. These people were so moved by the grace of God that we have declared them to undoubtedly be in Heaven. A great way to get to Heaven is to learn how other people have done it in the past and follow their example.

Study the writings of the great theologians. There is an incomprehensible quantity of writing that has been compiled over the centuries since Jesus walked the earth. While Jesus revealed everything necessary for our salvation, our understanding of that revelation can grow and bring us important insights to help us on the faith journey. When choosing a theologian to study, make sure they are approved by the Catholic Church. There are many who claim to be theologians, but they can lead us astray when their writings contradict the teachings of the Church. Look for a Nihil Obstat and an Imprimatur on a book before reading it. These are designations that nothing in the book contradicts the faith.

2. Participate in the life of the Church

Go to church. Attend prayer meetings or study groups. Go to Eucharistic Adoration. Volunteer to teach others through a religious education program or help someone come into the Church in the RCIA program. You can help the poor or visit the elderly in a nursing home with your parish group. There are many ways to participate in the life of the Church. Just as “Iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17), we can strengthen each other through our mutual efforts and inspiration.

Being a member of the Church requires more than just going to mass on Sundays. Though mass is a requirement, you will find that participating in some activities outside of mass to build up the Kingdom of God brings an emotional and personal encounter with the faith in a way that purely academic endeavors cannot.

Even more importantly, participate in the sacraments. Confess your sins and be free of the burden that those sins place on you. Receive the Eucharist worthily. participation in the sacraments gives you tremendous grace, which helps us to live a holy and exemplary life.

3. Follow the laws of the Church

If you want to call yourself a Catholic you need to act like one. The Church has provided for us a set of laws that must be followed in order to maintain our proper standing in the Church. These are summarized in the 10 Commandments of the Old Testament and by the precepts of the Church.

The 10 commandments are very basic in their common form. The 10 sentences to which you may be accustomed are not the whole story. The Catholic Church has given us guidelines around the 10 commandments to help us maintain a good relationship with Christ.

The precepts of the Catholic Church are laws established to help us identify the minimum requirements to consider yourself a practicing Catholic. These laws include going to mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation, confessing your sins at least once a year, receiving the Eucharist at least during the Easter Season, performing the necessary acts of fasting and abstinence, and providing for the needs of the Church. Just as you would be out of place calling yourself a soldier in the army if you refused to wear the uniform and went missing from your unit, you would be out of place calling yourself a Catholic if you do not abide by the precepts of the Church.

You can go through a thorough examination of conscience in order to help you form your conscience and determine where your shortcomings are in relation to the commandments and precepts of the Church.

4. Pray

Prayer is the way we communicate with God. There are various prayers that have been prepared for us such as the Our Father and Hail Mary. Here is a list of standard prayers that will give you a good start in your prayer life. Beyond the standard prayers, we should strive to have a personal relationship with God. Just as you have to talk to your friends to maintain a relationship, so too you have to talk to God to maintain the relationship. You should talk to God in a personal way (making sure to be respectful). Let Him know your needs and desires, your concerns, your love for Him, and your gratitude for His many blessings in your life.

5. Practice the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy

The 7 corporal works of mercy and 7 spiritual works of mercy are the actions by which we can show mercy for others. The corporal works of mercy are ways in which we can provide for the physical needs of others. The spiritual works of mercy are the ways in which you can provide for the spiritual needs of others. These works are not simply suggestions. They are what we are required to do. We are called to help the poor, the lonely, and the hungry. We are also called to instruct the ignorant and admonish the sinner. In doing these things, we can help build the Kingdom of God; making lives better, giving people comfort and strength. Perhaps the most important part of these works of mercy is the opportunity to bring the faith to others. We are all called to evangelize - to spread the faith. We can do this through our words, but the most effective way is through our actions.



Abortion on the Ballot in Florida - Are You Boycotting Romney?

clock October 7, 2012 18:41 by author John |

CMR has a good post up about 2 ballot initiatives in Florida. One on abortion, one on separation of church and state. If you are pro-life and plan on sitting this election out because Romney is not fully pro-life, you should read this post.  

My 2 cents on this is this: if he has done this much to derail the culture of life and morality in this country in his first term, while needing to maintain his voter base, what will he do as a lame duck president? What will he do in four years unconcerned with public opinion? Sitting this election out is a vote for Obama.

 



What is the Year of Faith?

clock October 6, 2012 18:30 by author John |

The Holy Father Benedict XVI

The Year of Faith Explained

The first thing to know about the Year of Faith is that it is actually more than a year, lasting from Oct. 11, 2012 to Nov. 24, 2013. Pope Benedict XVI issued an Apostolic Letter on October 11, 2011, entitled “Porta Fidei” in which he declared that a "Year of Faith" will begin on October 11, 2012 and conclude on November 24, 2013.  October 11, 2012, is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Vatican II and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. November 24th is the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King. The Pope begins his Letter in this way:

The “door of faith” (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. – Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei

How to Participate in the Year of Faith

Grow in your faith – In his apostolic letter, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the need to enrich your faith through the study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There are 2865 paragraphs in the Catechism. Evenly distributed, that comes to about 8 paragraphs every day of the calendar year (365 days) or 7 paragraphs every day of the full year of faith (410 days). I will be creating a blog post each day of the year of faith with quotes from the Catechism and additional commentary on the subjects covered in the Catechism paragraphs for that day. I will try to go through the Catechism in a calendar year and focus on other Church documents and teachings for the remaining days of the Year of Faith.

In addition to the Catechism, the Holy Father emphasized the study of the history of the Church. Throughout the ages, holy men and women of the Church have labored tirelessly building the Kingdom of God on Earth, traveling great distances to preach, exhorting the lukewarm, rebuking sinners, and proclaiming the name of Christ in the darkest of times, even if it meant the spilling of their blood. We can draw tremendous inspiration from their witness. Pope Benedict puts it this way:

One thing that will be of decisive importance in this Year is retracing the history of our faith, marked as it is by the unfathomable mystery of the interweaving of holiness and sin. While the former highlights the great contribution that men and women have made to the growth and development of the community through the witness of their lives, the latter must provoke in each person a sincere and continuing work of conversion in order to experience the mercy of the Father which is held out to everyone.

Provide a witness to the Faith - The Holy Father asks us to bring Christ to others by providing a virtuous witness of our faith:

The renewal of the Church is also achieved through the witness offered by the lives of believers: by their very existence in the world, Christians are called to radiate the word of truth that the Lord Jesus has left us.

The first aspect of this witness is that we are called to conversion. True witness of the faith can only be accomplished by first ridding ourselves of attachment to sin and by renewing our relationship with God. This is done through participation in the sacraments. Confess your sins and receive Our Lord in the Eucharist in order to enjoy the graces God showers upon you.

The second aspect of this witness is to bring Christ to others. We should provide an example of a virtuous life and when possible, lead others to Christ with gentle guidance and education in the ways of the faith. The Pope calls us to “make a public profession of the Credo”, meaning to profess our beliefs in the public square, not only in private or in Church.