A bit of reading to do during the Year of Faith.

Papa Bene has asked that the faithful read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

 

  • Everything that the Church believes is  contained in this impressive publication. If you’d prefer to receive bite-size chunks at a time, click on the link on the left of this block and sign up for daily mails from flocknote. Not an easy read, but amazing just the same.
  • YOUCAT is a new publication aimed at teenagers. Both available at any reputable bookshop. Click on the link and take a look at the resources available on-line.  Hip, happening and user-friendly! Irresistible ..This is how our Pope introduced this publication to the youth: (my emphasis)

Today I recommend for your reading an unusual book. It is unusual both because of its content and because of the way it came to be. I would like to tell you a little about how it was written, because then it will be clear why it is so unusual.

You could say that it came to be from another work, whose origins go back to the 1980’s. It was a difficult time for the Church and for society worldwide. New guidance was needed to find the path to the future. After the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) and in a changed cultural situation, many people were confused about what Christians actually believe, what the Church teaches, whether in fact she can teach anything at all, and how everything can find its place in a culture that had changed from its very foundations. Is it still reasonable today to be a believer? These were the questions that even good Christians were asking.

At that time Pope John Paul II made a bold decision. He decided that bishops from all over the world should together write a book in which they would answer these questions. He gave me the task of coordinating the work of the bishops and seeing to it that from the contributions of the bishops a book would result—a real book, not just a haphazard collection of all sorts of documents. This book would have the old-fashioned title Catechism of the Catholic Church but would be something entirely new and exciting. It would show what the Catholic Church believes today and how one can with good reason believe.

I was alarmed by this task. I must admit that I doubted whether something like this could succeed. For how was it possible that authors scattered all over the world could together produce a readable book? How could men who not only geographically but also intellectually and spiritually lived on different continents create a text with an inner unity, one that would also be understandable throughout all those continents? And there was the further difficulty that these bishops would not be writing as individual authors but would be in contact with their brother bishops and with the people in their dioceses.

I must admit that even today it still seems to me to be a miracle that this project finally succeeded.’
Furthermore…he expounds after discussing the process by which he and Pope John Paul worked on the Catechism : (my emphasis)

So I invite you: Study this Catechism! That is my heartfelt desire.

This Catechism was not written to please you. It will not make life easy for you, because it demands of you a new life. It places before you the Gospel message as the “pearl of great value” (Mt 13:46) for which you must give everything. So I beg you: Study this Catechism with passion and perseverance. Make a sacrifice of your time for it! Study it in the quiet of your room; read it with a friend; form study groups and networks; share with each other on the Internet. By all means continue to talk with each other about your faith.

You need to know what you believe. You need to know your faith with that same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer. You need to understand it like a good musician knows the piece he is playing. Yes, you need to be more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents so that you can engage the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and determination. You need God’s help if your faith is not going to dry up like a dewdrop in the sun, if you want to resist the blandishments of consumerism, if your love is not to drown in pornography, if you are not going to betray the weak and leave the vulnerable helpless.
If you are now going to apply yourselves zealously to the study of the Catechism, I want to give you one last thing to accompany you: You all know how deeply the community of faith has been wounded recently through the attacks of the evil one, through the penetration of sin itself into the interior, yes, into the heart of the Church. Do not make that an excuse to flee from the face of God! You yourselves are the Body of Christ, the Church! Bring the undiminished fire of your love into this Church whose countenance has so often been disfigured by man. “Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord!” (Rom 12:11). When Israel was at the lowest point in her history, God called for help, not from the great and honored ones of Israel, but from a young man by the name of Jeremiah. Jeremiah felt overwhelmed: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth” (Jer 1:6). But God was not to be deterred : “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command you you shall speak” (Jer 1:7).
I bless you and pray each day for all of you.

Benedictus P.P. XVI

 Youcat website

 

THIS IS AN EXCERPT OF THE INTRODUCTION TO THE COMPENDIUM ON THE VATICAN WEBSITE:

”The Compendium is not a work that stands alone, nor is it intended in any way to replace the Catechism of the Catholic Church: instead, it refers constantly to theCatechism by means of reference numbers printed in the margins, as well as by consistent reliance on its structure, development and contents. In fact, theCompendium is meant to reawaken interest in and enthusiasm for the Catechism,which, in the wisdom of its presentation and the depth of its spirituality, always remains the basic text for catechesis in the Church today.

Like the Catechism, the Compendium has four parts, corresponding to the fundamental laws of life in Christ.

The first part, entitled “The Profession of Faith”, contains a synthesis of the lex credendi, the faith professed by the Catholic Church, as expressed in the Apostles’ Creed which is further elaborated by the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. In the liturgical profession of the Creed, the Christian assembly keeps the principal truths of the faith alive in memory.

The second part, entitled “The Celebration of the Christian Mystery”, presents the essential elements of the lex celebrandi. The proclamation of the Gospel finds its authentic response in the sacramental life, through which Christians experience and witness, in every moment of their existence, the saving power of the paschal mystery by which Christ has accomplished our redemption.

The third part, entitled “Life in Christ”, recalls the lex vivendi, through which the baptized manifest their commitment to the faith they have professed and celebrated, through their actions and ethical choices. The Christian faithful are called by the Lord Jesus to act in a way which befits their dignity as children of the Father in the charity of the Holy Spirit.

The fourth part, entitled “Christian Prayer”, summarizes the lex orandi, the life of prayer. Following the example of Jesus, the perfect model of one who prays, the Christian too is called to the dialogue with God in prayer. A privileged expression of prayer is the Our Father, the prayer that Jesus has taught us.”

Learning The Faith. Sharing The Faith. Living the Faith.

 

Stained Glass window at Maryvale, Birmingham, at the shrine of The Sacred Heart.

I attended a Maryvale Institute study day yesterday as I am enrolled on the Certificate in Catechesis course. It’s  two years long, finishing for me at the end of 2013. The correct title for Maryvale being: International Catholic Distance-Learning College for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education.

These study days are as intense as they are uplifting, and I leave these sessions exhausted but itching to learn more. The aim of this course is to unpack the true teaching of the Church through knowledge of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, so that as messengers we can pass on the truths of the Faith accurately. We then spend the next three months studying and submitting essays and workshop topics. There is much to cover and sticking to a recommended hour a day reading and researching is a must in order to keep up with the workload. (the content is so absorbing that I end up spending as much as 2 hours a day reading and researching, when time allows.)

We start the study day with Mass and then go straight into lectures, facilitated by an enthusiastic Catechist with many years  experience under her belt. After a tea break and a delicious lunch, the two afternoon lectures are given by a visiting priest. The day concluded with Vespers (just so beautiful!!) and we felt blessed to be joined by a seminarian from the English College in Rome. Everything about the day is always just right. Not too much, not too little, just right.

Why have I decided to do this course? With the year of Faith upon us I want to be armed and ready with the Truth of our Faith when the opportunity comes along to share it. This piece sums up my feelings exactly:

The truth is that religion is important.  In fact, man is religious by nature.  We are created by God who made us for Himself.  God is always calling us to Him, drawing us toward Him, and our hearts naturally want to respond to that call.  St. Augustine famously said that our hearts are restless until they rest in God.  Religion is how God calls us and how we respond.  It’s how we enter into and sustain (and hopefully grow in) our relationship with God.  That’s why we can say that religion is natural to man.  To deny it, whether at a personal of societal level, is unnatural.  We are not fully human if we are not religious.  It’s also why government has to ensure its citizens the right to practice it freely.  Because the right to practice religion is not given to us by the state; it is given to us by God because He made us to be religious.

As members of the Church, we have an obligation to not only learn our faith but also to help others to learn it.  This is especially true for clergy and for parents who are the first teachers of the faith to the children that God has entrusted to them.  As Catholics, we believe that the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of the faith.  As human beings, we have a natural thirst for truth.  But truth ultimately is not a thing or an idea; it is a person.  Jesus Christ is Truth, and he who possesses truth possesses God.  That of course is a lot to possess, so we always have to continue studying our faith. (fatheracervo.com)

 

Images speak a thousand words. What do you think?

A voyage of Discovery!

The following prayer accompanies the image of the Year of Faith on our bulletin:

Bestow upon me, O God,
an understanding that knows You
wisdom in finding You
a way of life that is pleasing to You
perseverance that faithfully waits for You
and confidence
that I shall embrace You at the last.
Prayer of Saint Thomas Aquinas before study.

Year of Faith CATECHIST

Take a little time to think about what these images are telling us about the coming Year of Faith. My immediate response to the top picture is,’ Surely every year should be the year of Faith?’ My next immediate thought is,’The Church never does anything without good reason!’

There is a need for resting Catholics to discover the Truths and beauty and fullness of their Faith and to get closer to the Lord in Holy Communion.

What is your parish doing in the Year of Faith?

Please share what your parish is initiating for the coming Year of Faith? Our newsletter today includes numerous invitations that were publicised at the beginning of the Summer holidays:

1. ‘If you’re not a Catholic, or have not yet been Confirmed, and would like to explore the Catholic Faith as an adult then come on Thursday evenings’. EVENGELIUM: Come and find our what the Catholic Church believes and teaches. No strings, no commitments (at this stage), just come and see, and/or bring a friend.

2. Take A Stand is a Catholic Youth initiative for 14-30 year olds, meeting once a month and welcoming Young Catholics in neighbouring Parishes, getting involved in its main activities of YouCat(the Youth Catechism), building international solidarity among young Catholics and providing inspiration on a day to day basis.

Youcat

Youcat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

www.takeastand1.weebly.com

Take A Stand started at World Youth Day, Madrid 2011 where millions of young Catholics were inspired by the WYD theme ‘Firmes a la Fe’, standing firm in the Faith.

XXVI World Youth Day

XXVI World Youth Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 We were among them. Returning to the United Kingdom, we were inspired by the goal of learning the Catechism of the Catholic Faith (Youcat) spreading the message to others and becoming faithful followers of the Lord Jesus. TAKE A STAND has grown into a vibrant network, organising regular events and continually seeking to find new, innovative ways of evangelisation.

3. The Year of Faith starts on 11th Oct. Every Catholic home needs a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church or

the Compendium or You Cat. All our homilies & activities will link with this.

4. If you’re a Catholic who wants to deepen your Catholic Faith during the Year of Faith- none of us should miss this opportunity – then come on 5 consecutive Fridays (or those that you can manage) 8 – 9.30pm, upstairs in the Pastoral Centre starting on 21st September 2012. CATHOLICISM

Image@EWTN.com

Back to Authority.

In the unpacking of the meaning and value of Grace, I journeyed toward this quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I wish I’d started from this platform from on the outset of my investigation!

The Great John Paul II. The CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church) is a document that Catholics must have at their fingertips explaining the Faith of Christ’s Church. It is the the definitive reference on what the Church teaches, used by Roman Catholics for the sake of  the clarification of the Faith. Thank you Blessed John Paul for this invaluable treasure!!

So, here goes:- (I include italics and bold lettering for the purposes of this post) 

II. Ways of Coming to Know God

31 Created in God’s image and called to know and love him, the person who seeks God discovers certain ways of coming to know him. These are also called proofs for the existence of God, not in the sense of proofs in the natural sciences, but rather in the sense of “converging and convincing arguments”, which allow us to attain certainty about the truth. These “ways” of approaching God from creation have a twofold point of departure: the physical world, and the human person.

32 The world: starting from movement, becoming, contingency, and the world’s order and beauty, one can come to a knowledge of God as the origin and the end of the universe.

As St. Paul says of the Gentiles: For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.7

And St. Augustine issues this challenge: Question the beauty of the earth, question the beauty of the sea, question the beauty of the air distending and diffusing itself, question the beauty of the sky. . . question all these realities. All respond: “See, we are beautiful.” Their beauty is a profession [confessio]. These beauties are subject to change. Who made them if not the Beautiful One [Pulcher] who is not subject to change?8

33 The human person: with his openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, with his longings for the infinite and for happiness, man questions himself about God’s existence. In all this he discerns signs of his spiritual soul. the soul, the “seed of eternity we bear in ourselves, irreducible to the merely material”,9 can have its origin only in God.

34 The world, and man, attest that they contain within themselves neither their first principle nor their final end, but rather that they participate in Being itself, which alone is without origin or end. Thus, in different ways, man can come to know that there exists a reality which is the first cause and final end of all things, a reality “that everyone calls God”.10

35 Man’s faculties make him capable of coming to the knowledge of the existence of a personal God. But for man to be able to enter into real intimacy with him, God willed both to reveal himself to man, and to give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation in faith.(so) the proofs of God’s existence, however, can predispose one to faith and help one to see that faith is not opposed to reason.

This explanation of Grace leads me to the understanding and appreciation of the necessary trigger called free will in asking for and recognising God in all things; the acceptance of God as Lord over all;  through the application of reason and hard-wiring placed in our hearts by the loving Father. God.

pedra sepulcral cristã das catacumbas de Domit...

So Grace is given freely to those who recognise God as Lord and Saviour as a means of growing in intimacy with Him. Just beautiful. Beautiful! From comments on a previous post on Grace, BILTRIX mentioned ‘Sanctifying Grace’, and this rang bells for me harking back many moons ago to Catechism classes. (I did check up on this again) I know that there is two kinds of Grace: Sanctifying and Actual. Sanctifying grace stays in the soul. It’s what makes the soul holy; it gives the soul supernatural life. More properly, it is supernatural life.  Actual grace, by contrast, is a supernatural push or encouragement. It’s transient. It doesn’t live in the soul, but acts on the soul from the outside, so to speak. It’s a supernatural kick in the pants. It gets the will and intellect moving so we can seek out and keep Sanctifying Grace.

The Catholic Connection: Part 3

The earliest Christian symbol: @1catholicsalmon

All my life have I been steeped in Catholic Tradition but I ‘ve taken it for granted, merrily assimilating them as part of the Catholic me.  I have always known the shepherd is symbolic of Christ. I can’t even remember when I acquired this knowledge. I never questioned why or where it originated. Well, on my trip to Rome I realised just how much Tradition is part of the Catholic Faith. It rests on it firmly and unequivocally, as far back as the times the time of our ancestors in the Old Testament!

I attended part of a course on Catechises (that of passing on of the Faith) at Maryvale College, in which the above symbol was presented as a matter of course during discussion.  It was pointed out as being the symbol present on the cover of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This changed my perception of the symbol: a simple picture of a shepherd with his sheep, used to grace the cover of the document outlining the Tradition of the Church? It must be of much significance then!

Well, it is.

On the inside cover of the CCC is this explanation for the use of the symbol:

‘The design of the logo on the cover is taken from a Christian tombstone in the catacombs of Domitilla, in Rome, which dates from the end of the third century A.D. This pastoral image, of pagan origin, was used by Christians to symbolize the rest and the happiness of that the soul of the departed finds in eternal life

This image also suggests certain characteristics aspects of the Catechism: Christ, the Good Shepherd who leads and protects his faithful (the lamb) by his authority (the Staff), draws them by the melodious symphony of the truth (the panpipes and makes them lie down in the shade of the ‘tree of life’, his redeeming Cross which opens paradise.’

Image@http://www.vatican.va

On this trip to Rome, I didn’t get to the catacombs of Domitilla, but did visit the catacombs of St Calistus. The photograph above,  is of this wonderful symbol used by the Christians of ancient Rome to communicate their affinity with Christ and with one another. As it was used as pagan symbol the adoption of it by the Christian communities in Rome ensured that they would meet safely to participate in the Eucharist without fear of reprisal or capture.

The objective of this post? To point out that the links to Catholic Connection Tradition runs deep and wide. It is far reaching and extensive. I experienced it in the garden and catacombs of fellow Christians who have gone before me.

Take a little time to unearth them  and see for yourself.

I give thanks and pray about this as written by St Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:3:

‘We are indebted to give thanks to God for you always, my brethren, as it is necessary, because your faith grows all the more and the love of each and every one of you increases toward his neighbour.’

Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 96

96 ‘ What Christ entrusted to the apostles, they in turn handed on by their preaching and writing, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to all generations, until Christ returns in glory.’

The Faith of the Catholic Church.

I have returned from a wonderful life-changing, eleven day experience in Rome.  I found this quotation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church: perfect for  ‘beginning at the beginning’, as a way in to describing how my understanding of Christ’s command to the Apostles has been carved into the paths, cobble stones, buildings , dungeons, churches and history of Rome. The seat of Christianity. 

Humanae Vitae: Day 24

Image @canfp.org

To Scientists

24. Our next appeal is to men of science. These can “considerably advance the welfare of marriage and the family and also peace of conscience, if by pooling their efforts they strive to elucidate more thoroughly the conditions favorable to a proper regulation of births.”  It is supremely desirable, and this was also the mind of Pius XII, that medical science should by the study of natural rhythms succeed in determining a sufficiently secure basis for the chaste limitation of offspring.  In this way scientists, especially those who are Catholics, will by their research establish the truth of the Church’s claim that “there can be no contradiction between two divine laws—that which governs the transmitting of life and that which governs the fostering of married love.”

Paul VI continues to turn his attention to various groups of people and their role in safeguarding the dignity of human life.  Paragraph 24 is his address to scientists.

In these paragraphs, you get a sense of Paul VI trying to shepherd his flock helping them to understand their importance in safeguarding human life.  But his concern is also with their own spiritual well-being.  Scientists in particular are capapble of great contributions to the welfare of marriage and the family, but also (as we’ve seen all to often) great harm.

Many people have the mistaken notion that the Church is against science, and that is completely false.  The Church, in fact, has always been a supporter of science in its role of discovering (not creating) the truth and in understanding what God has created.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#159) says this about faith and science:

“Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth” (Dei Filius 4). “Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are” (Gaudium et Spes 36.1).

Humanae Vitae: Day 11

Observing the Natural Law

11. The sexual activity, in which husband and wife are intimately and chastely united with one another, through which human life is transmitted, is, as the recent Council recalled, “noble and worthy” (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 49).  It does not, moreover, cease to be legitimate even when, for reasons independent of their will, it is foreseen to be infertile. For its natural adaptation to the expression and strengthening of the union of husband and wife is not thereby suppressed. The fact is, as experience shows, that new life is not the result of each and every act of sexual intercourse. God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws. The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life (cf. Pius XI, Casti connubi).

Natural Law, remember, is that which we naturally know as right vs. wrong because God placed that knowledge within us along with a conscience which tells us to do good and avoid evil.  Sex is a gift given by God to a husband and wife for the twin purposes of strengthening the bond between them (as they are no longer two but one flesh) and bringing children into the world.  Even if a couple is unable to have children, the conjugal act is still “noble and worthy” assuming that they are at least open to having children.

That last line is of great importance: “each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life.”  Contraception willingly severs that intrinsic relationship between the marital act and the procreation of life.  And that is why the use of artificial contraception is always by its very nature a mortal sin.  Mortal sins cut us off from God’s grace which gives life to our souls (whereas venial sins wound that connection).  The use of contraception is a mortal sin because it destroys God’s plan for man and woman to “be fruitful and multiply”.

See references in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

nn. 1854-1864 on “The Gravity Of Sin: Mortal And Venial Sin”

n. 2370 and 2399 on Contraception which the Catechism (citing Humanae Vitae n. 14) describes as “intrinsically evil”.

(Posted with permission from Fr. Lee Acervo at http://fatheracervo.wordpress.com)

Humanae Vitae: Day 2

2. The changes that have taken place are of considerable importance and varied in nature. In the first place there is the rapid increase in population which has made many fear that world population is going to grow faster than available resources, with the consequence that many families and developing countries would be faced with greater hardships. This can easily induce public authorities to be tempted to take even harsher measures to avert this danger. There is also the fact that not only working and housing conditions but the greater demands made both in the economic and educational field pose a living situation in which it is frequently difficult these days to provide properly for a large family.

Also noteworthy is a new understanding of the dignity of woman and her place in society, of the value of conjugal love in marriage and the relationship of conjugal acts to this love.

But the most remarkable development of all is to be seen in man’s stupendous progress in the domination and rational organization of the forces of nature to the point that he is endeavoring to extend this control over every aspect of his own life—over his body, over his mind and emotions, over his social life, and even over the laws that regulate the transmission of life.

The way that the world was thinking began to change during this time. Paragraph 2 presents some of those changes because they presented some challenges to the Church’s teaching on the transmission of life: this was a time of fears of overpopulation, the women’s lib movement, and humanity’s increasing drive to control everything through science and technology.

The Church has always taught that the marital act, although it also has a meaning and purpose in the strengthening of the bond between husband and wife, can never be deliberately separated from the possibility of procreation. Yet modern thought protested with many saying the children were a burden or an obstacle to “freedom”. Many tried to explain it away by pointing to so-called social and economic problems and the fear of the difficulties that another child would bring. Lost was the eternal belief that children were to be seen as a gift from God, the author and giver of life.

We read from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2378:

A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The “supreme gift of marriage” is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged “right to a child” would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right “to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents,” and “the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.”

Regarding the fear that many people had in the size of the world’s population, the Population Research Institute (a pro-life group) has done a lot to debunk the myth of overpopulation. They did a series of videos a while back (here’s one) but essentially, there are a lot of historical and scientific facts that disprove overpopulation. Let’s not forget the Lord’s command from the very beginning to “be fruitful and multiply, bring forth abundantly on the earth and multiply in it” (Gen 9:7).

(Posted with permission from Fr. Lee Acervo at http://fatheracervo.wordpress.com)

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