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Catechism Project, #11-17

I’m going to break with the purely systematic approach to this study and start in the middle of this section of the Catechism with a quote that I think more fully illustrates the rest.  In CCC #14 we read: “Those who belong to Christ through faith and Baptism must confess their baptismal faith before men.”  This isn’t a suggestion – the word is “must” not “can”, “might” or even “should”.  But how are we who belong to Christ to know what it is we believe that we might confess it before men?  That’s exactly where the Catechism comes in, providing “the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine […] in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church’s tradition.” (CCC #11)  Herein we will find not just neuveau theologie, as if the world and the Church started all over again after Vatican II, but catechesis based on the continued and continual striving of the Church throughout the centuries to better understand and teach about God.

The overall structure of this Catechism is also of ancient origins which as a lover of history just makes me six kinds of giddy (and no, I’m not going to list them).  We will, in this voyage, work from the baptismal profession of faith as found in the Creed, then on to the sacraments of the faith, moving then to the life of faith as found in the Commandments and finishing with the prayer of the believer, delving into the Lord’s Prayer.  You can almost see a cycle built up in this order that is lived out by each and every Catholic – our profession of faith prepares us to receive the sacraments which strengthen us to live a life in conformity with God’s great Human Owner’s Manual in the Commandments which enables us to make the time in our lives for prayer, which then deepens our understanding of God and our commitment to our profession of faith – and voila we are back at the beginning.  Far from a dusty, old, irrelevant book never to be taken off the shelf this is a map of the very life of every believer.

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