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Catechism Project, #1-10

The Catechism starts off asking and answering two very important questions – what are we to do and how are we to know.  First, we are reminded of something important about God, who existed before any of us ever asked those questions: “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.” (CCC #1).  It is important to remember that, despite His great love for us, God does not “need” anyone or anything in His creation, he is “perfectly … blessed”, perfectly happy, in himself.  Yet because of who He is, God created us.  What are we to do about that?

In a phrase that will make lovers of the Baltimore Catechism purse a thin smile the Catechism answers, “to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength”.  It really is that simple, even though we spend an incredible amount of energy finding ways to make it seem more complicated.  The rest of the Catechism is an explanation of how and why we are to do that.

How are we to know what to do?  That is the role of catechesis and a founding reason for the creation of the Catechism, which quotes Catechesi Tradendae in defining catechesis as “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.” (CT 18)  The words “organic and systematic” are utterly critical to any well-formed program of catechesis.  The Association for Catechumenal Ministry provides a very helpful definition for these two terms:

Systematic means that each successive teaching be linked to the teaching given beforehand, demonstrating the hierarchy of truths. A carefully laid-out systematic presentation of the faith does not leave any holes. It is complete. It does not skip over any of the essentials of the faith due to careful planning.

Organic means that each doctrine is linked to other doctrines, showing the integral unity of the Faith. Organic catechesis has more to do with how a lesson is presented, while systematic catechesis has more to do with how a curriculum or “doctrine cycle” is devised.

Going back to the initial questions for a second, what are we to do?  To seek, know and love God with all our strength.  How are we to know how to do that?  We must learn, and we must be taught – taught by others who have themselves been taught and learned in a systematic and organic way.  This Catechism is one of the great keys to unlocking the mystery of God’s plan for us, a great gift of God to the Church and from the Church to each of us.  I haven’t even begun to dig in to the deep meat of this text and the promise is already exciting!

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Ibrahima November 12, 2015, 12:40 pm

    Amen! How sad that there are so few families today that unrsdetand this. Just recently I overheard a new mother at my work place in a discussion about going to church. Her comment was Well, we just had the baby baptized in January and we’ve been to church for three Sunday’s in a row now, so I figure that’s enough for the rest of the year . It made me want to cry for her and for her children. God is so good to us and we are so fickle about our eternal salvation. What greater gift could we possibly long for than eternal life with Him?

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