Ink Slingers

Five Reasons Why I Love the Catechism

In the twelve years we’ve been Catholic, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) has remained dear to our entire family. Here are five reasons why:

1. It was instrumental in my husband’s conversion. Very early on in our studying of Catholicism, he bought a copy of the catechism, figuring that since he was interested in what the Church taught, he might as well go right to the official catechism. He read it cover to cover and checked every Biblical reference. He still reads it for personal encouragement and education and appreciates it more every time (He tells me!).

2. It is beautiful to read – poetic, solid, and satisfying, with footnotes from Scripture, history, and other Church documents. A random opening of my copy while writing this fell to paragraph #2842 on Christian Prayer: “When we ask to be delivered from the Evil One, we pray as well to be freed from all evils, present, past, and future, of which he is the author or instigator. In this final petition, the Church brings before the Father all the distress of the world. Along with deliverance from the evils that overwhelm humanity, she implores the precious gift of peace and the grace of perseverance in expectation of Christ’s return. By praying in this way, she anticipates in humility of faith the gathering together of everyone and everything in him who has ‘the keys of death and Hades’ who ‘is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty’.”  Magnificent. There is a footnote directing the reader to three passages in Revelation. What a devotional!

3. It covers everything, from difficult, contentious issues to heartbreaking, suffering issues to mystical, spiritual issues. Topics are neither shied-away from nor sugar-coated. We can read about sex, social justice, national laws, union with Christ, and the problem of pain (the section that brought me to my knees; see paragraphs 1499-1532.) It is something I direct my children to time and time again. 

4. It can be relied upon for instruction in our Holy Faith, for it is a “Full, complete exposition of Catholic doctrine, enabling everyone to know what the Church professes, celebrates, lives, and prays in her daily life (From the prologue by Pope John Paul II).” There are no worries about whether or not an author is faithful to the Magisterium. Jesus told the apostles, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth (John 16:13)” and Paul told young Timothy how to behave within “the ousehold of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of truth (I Timothy 3:15).” A bulwark is a defensive wall; I wonder if Paul had the formidable walls of Jerusalem in mind as he pictured the Church keeping Christians safe from false doctrines. The Catechism is the continuing of the Holy Spirit’s leading of the Church as it guards the precious deposit of faith and instructs the faithful. Jesus never left a book; he left men filled with Holy Spirit, guided into truth, forgiving sins (John 20:23), and going out to teach and baptize (Matthew 28:19-20). They did write, however, and our Church in her wisdom, gathered and compiled their stories and letters into a New Testament. The Catechism is another example of her wisdom in leading Christians here on earth.

5. Jesus is central. Again, from the prologue: “In reading the CCC, we can perceive the wonderful unity of the mystery of God, his saving will, as well as the central place of Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God, sent by the Father, made man in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be our Savior. Having died and risen, Christ is always present in his Church, especially in the sacraments; he is the source of our faith, the model of Christian conduct, and the teacher of our prayer.” How powerful and peaceful.

I encourage you, dear Sistas, if there’s not a copy on your bed stand; put one there and dig into it. I bet you’ll love it!

Catechism Confession Doctrine Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri Sacraments

The Catechism at Random: The One God and Savior

Catechism at RandomLast October I wrote a post under this same title: The Catechism at Random. It’s an interesting exercise to use the random number generator at and have it randomly select a paragraph number from the Catechism. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a rich resource filled with all the teachings of our Catholic faith. Since it’s such a great teaching tool, it’s always a learning experience to try this out.

Plus it helps when you’re coming up empty on a topic to write about. Ha!

My random number this time was 587:

587 “If the Law and the Jerusalem Temple could be occasions of opposition to Jesus by Israel’s religious authorities, his role in the redemption of sins, the divine work par excellence, was the true stumbling-block for them.”

I have to admit to you, dear readers, that part of me wanted to run that random number generator again. But I read this paragraph again (and again and … well, you get the picture) and decided that if this is what I was given this is what I was meant to reflect on. So here we go.

This paragraph from the Catechism begins a new section titled, “Jesus and Israel’s Faith in the One God and Savior.” The first part of this paragraph actually refers back to the sections immediately preceding paragraph 587. I read as far back as 574 to put this into context.

In the preceding sections we’re reminded about the Law the Jews followed as well as the importance of the Temple in Jerusalem to the Jews. As I read I was reminded that Jesus was a respected rabbi in the Jewish community. The Pharisees, i.e., the religious authorities, the teachers of the Law, were offended that in teaching about the Law Jesus “was not content to propose his interpretation alongside theirs but taught the people ‘as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.’” (CCC 581)

Of course, Jesus had more authority to teach than the Pharisees, but the teachers of the Law did not know that he was God. As he offered his own interpretation of the Law and brought a new covenant to the people, the Pharisees thought he was leading the people astray. I can see how they would be offended.

Looking now at paragraph 587, it’s much clearer what’s being discussed. Israel’s religious leaders didn’t understand the authority with which Jesus taught about the Law. However, the true stumbling-block for the Pharisees was Jesus role in the redemption of sins.

It’s interesting to me that in the discussion of the Law (CCC 577-582) the Catechism explains that no one could actually follow the letter of the Law perfectly. It was actually impossible to do so. Therefore, the custom was to ask for God’s forgiveness in the breaking of the Law once a year on the Day of Atonement. Only Jesus could follow the Law perfectly. And only Jesus could come, “not to abolish [the Law] but to fulfill” (Mt. 5:17).

Reading through these sections reminds me of what a blessing the Sacrament of Reconciliation is.  The religious leaders in Jesus’ day thought he was a blasphemer. In actuality he was giving us a gift, the ability to ask for forgiveness and to receive absolution.

reconciliationWe are all sinners. Only Jesus is perfection. He came so that our sins could be forgiven. By his life, death, and resurrection, we have been freed from sin if we choose to accept it. And that, for me, is the key. We must accept Jesus as the one God and Savior in order to receive this amazing gift. By making frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we’re not only coming to Jesus in all our weaknesses, but we’re also accepting him as our Savior.

Join the discussion: Do you make frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation? If not, what holds you back?