Martin Luther Would Be Proud

Written by Gary Shirley

Not again, thought Tom Parker. Not another homily about how we should embrace life from conception to natural death. Not another reminder that God isrepparttar Author of all life. Please don’t warn us again aboutrepparttar 126935 evils of contraception and abortion. Is all this really necessary? Why doesrepparttar 126936 Church feel this overwhelming need to invade our private lives?

Driving home from church, Tom complained to his wife Linda, “Don’t these priests understandrepparttar 126937 harsh reality of living in today’s world? They stand up there and tell us to welcome children into our lives, but they don’t have to facerepparttar 126938 difficulties of raising them nor foot any ofrepparttar 126939 bills. Do they have a clue what college costs these days? Why isrepparttar 126940 Catholic Church so out of touch with American life? When will these guys wake up to how society has changed, thanks to great social programs, progressive laws and quantum leaps in technology? Catholics don’t need to hear this stuff over and over again.”

While he drew his next breath, Linda managed to squeeze in a solicitous, “Yes, dear.” She hoped that if Tom knew someone was actually listening, he would be satisfied and let it ride. Only a moment of treasured silence occurred. A different response soon came fromrepparttar 126941 back seat. “So, Tom, you thinkrepparttar 126942 Church is out of touch withrepparttar 126943 times, eh? You actually believe that good Catholics don’t need to be reminded ofrepparttar 126944 truths ofrepparttar 126945 faith,” camerepparttar 126946 return volley from his brother Jeff. Both Jeff and his wife Rose had been listening attentively to Tom’s spleen venting.

Jeff always loved to antagonize his older brother all through their boyhood, especially when Tom went off on one of his tirades. Visiting from Colorado, Jeff and Rose were only in town forrepparttar 126947 weekend. He wantedrepparttar 126948 visit to be a pleasant one but Jeff couldn’t resistrepparttar 126949 chance to spar with his big brother like they used to do. Since he had been certified as an RCIA catechist inrepparttar 126950 past year, Jeff had some insights intorepparttar 126951 faith that he was anxious to share. Tom would be a tough sell, because Jeff knew his brother’s faith formation pretty much ended withrepparttar 126952 eighth-grade CCD program. Baiting his brother, Jeff asked, “So, Tom, what’s incredulity?”

The response from Tom was more treasured silence. Carryingrepparttar 126953 torch, Jeff responded, “The Catechism ofrepparttar 126954 Catholic Church teaches us that, ‘incredulity isrepparttar 126955 neglect of revealed truth orrepparttar 126956 willful refusal to assent to it.’” He added, “Incredulity is just this side of outright heresy, Tom.” Not quite makingrepparttar 126957 connection, Tom said, “So... I go to Mass every Sunday, but because I complain aboutrepparttar 126958 homily I am a heretic?” “Of course not,” said Jeff, “ but think aboutrepparttar 126959 priest’s message. He was trying to remindrepparttar 126960 faithful that, agree or not, we must followrepparttar 126961 Church’s teachings. To do otherwise makes us, in effect, Protestants.”

Jeff continued, “Remember,repparttar 126962 so-called “Reformation” inrepparttar 126963 fifteenth century was born of protest againstrepparttar 126964 Catholic Church. That mindset of protest has infected Christianity ever since. It has essentially morphed into an attitude of, ‘I’ll believe what I agree with and discardrepparttar 126965 rest.’ Many Catholics acceptrepparttar 126966 Church teachings that they agree with, like mayberepparttar 126967 Mass,repparttar 126968 Eucharist, or certain rites and traditions. Then they secretly or even flagrantly protest againstrepparttar 126969 things that have not earned their agreement. Think about it, Tom. Personal agreement is nowrepparttar 126970 de facto standard by which we measure our faith life. Disobedience has becomerepparttar 126971 norm. It’s wrong and it isrepparttar 126972 cause of many good Catholics going astray. ”

Seeing that he had everyone’s rapt attention, Jeff went on. “Contraception is a classic example. Millions of Catholics think they can freely engage in contraceptive practices while still living a sacramental life. They pretend that they do not know whatrepparttar 126973 Church teaches or act as if some unwritten latitude exists as they brazenly dissent. Believe me, brother, I’ve heard allrepparttar 126974 rationalizations in my short time as a teacher - ‘Oh, I don’t agree withrepparttar 126975 Vatican on that,’ or ‘What doesrepparttar 126976 Pope know about married life?” or ‘The Church is just trying to keep women barefoot and pregnant.’ Meanwhile these very same people line up for Holy Communion every Sunday, resolute in their sin. I sit inrepparttar 126977 pew and watch in amazement. Are they Catholics going forward to receiverepparttar 126978 Lord inrepparttar 126979 Eucharist or are they Protestants who simply findrepparttar 126980 Eucharist acceptable theology?”

“Wait a minute,” snorted Tom, “You are really hammering your fellow parishioners awful hard. Being a catechist doesn’t make you judge and jury.” Experienced withrepparttar 126981 underlying meaning in Tom’s tone, Jeff responded, “Listen carefully, big brother, because I’m not hammeringrepparttar 126982 people but their actions. Only God holdsrepparttar 126983 judgment seat on each person, but we must not be afraid to judge actions and to address those actions that are sinful.” Before Tom could respond, Jeff continued, “The Catechism nails this very attitude when it states inrepparttar 126984 section on mortal sin, ‘Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase,repparttar 126985 voluntary character of sin.’ By pretending not to know or by obstinately refusing to find outrepparttar 126986 truth, we think we are fooling God,” said Jeff. We might fool our priest, our friends and our family, but we cannot fool God. In reality we are actually deepening our state of sin. Imaginerepparttar 126987 civil parallel: if I pretend to be completely ignorant of paying income tax, then do I really believe thatrepparttar 126988 IRS will let me slide inrepparttar 126989 end? Of course not! In reality, for every year I avoid paying taxesrepparttar 126990 penalties grow exponentially. Should God operate with different logic? Why do we think God went to allrepparttar 126991 trouble to teach usrepparttar 126992 right way through Moses,repparttar 126993 prophets and Christ himself only to assume that he’ll let us slide inrepparttar 126994 end? For this to occur we would have to re-mold God so that he becomes a Being of pure mercy devoid of justice. It’s logically and theologically absurd.”

Navigating the Catechism

Written by Gary Shirley

In 1994,repparttar Holy Father authorizedrepparttar 126934 publication of a new Catechism ofrepparttar 126935 Catholic Church. This was a cause for great joy for it had been over four centuries sincerepparttar 126936 last catechism had been promulgated. At that timerepparttar 126937 Church was trying to reconcilerepparttar 126938 impact ofrepparttar 126939 Protestant “Reformation” and needed to clarify her teachings for those in spiritual turmoil. Fast forward torepparttar 126940 twenty-first century and, once again, Christians face challenges for which they need deep insights and clear answers. This wonderful book has answeredrepparttar 126941 call.

From nuclear war to stem cell research, modern Catholics wrestle with issues that are simply not addressed inrepparttar 126942 Sacred Scriptures and far removed from our childhood CCD classes. The new Catechism fillsrepparttar 126943 void by carefully delineatingrepparttar 126944 teachings ofrepparttar 126945 Church andrepparttar 126946 source reference of those teachings. The second edition ofrepparttar 126947 Catechism (green cover) was released in 1997 and contains improvements fromrepparttar 126948 first edition such as inclusion of a comprehensive index and glossary.

Reading and studyingrepparttar 126949 text, however, can be a bit daunting torepparttar 126950 average Catholic. A catechism is a reference text and should be read as such. Small forays into its depths with subsequent time for reflection is more productive than attempting to read it like a novel. Like Scripture, it presupposes a certain understanding of Sacred Tradition. Without this grounding, readers may have difficulty unearthingrepparttar 126951 great wisdom in its pages.

Perhaps a short review of some key building blocks ofrepparttar 126952 Catholic faith will assist in this regard. The Magisterium isrepparttar 126953 teaching authority ofrepparttar 126954 Church which, guided byrepparttar 126955 Holy Spirit, seeks to safeguard and explainrepparttar 126956 truths ofrepparttar 126957 faith. Magisterium comes fromrepparttar 126958 Latin magister meaning “to teach.” Allrepparttar 126959 world’s bishops united withrepparttar 126960 Pope compriserepparttar 126961 Magisterium. Their singular goal is to protectrepparttar 126962 authentic teachings of Christ untilrepparttar 126963 end of time.

The Deposit of Faith isrepparttar 126964 body of saving truth entrusted by Christ torepparttar 126965 Apostles and handed on by them torepparttar 126966 Church to be preserved and proclaimed. This deposit has numerous components, such asrepparttar 126967 oral tradition ofrepparttar 126968 Apostles, Sacred Scripture, writings ofrepparttar 126969 Fathers ofrepparttar 126970 Church,repparttar 126971 documents ofrepparttar 126972 twenty-one Councils ofrepparttar 126973 Church, testimonials ofrepparttar 126974 Saints and Doctors ofrepparttar 126975 Church, and pontifical “teaching letters” (known as encyclicals). As evidenced byrepparttar 126976 list,repparttar 126977 Roman Catholic religion runs deep and wide.

As with any component ofrepparttar 126978 Deposit of Faith, however,repparttar 126979 Catechism does not stand alone but is part of a vast mosaic. Like hyperlinks onrepparttar 126980 Internet,repparttar 126981 new Catechism presents a teaching and then leads us on to other references so we can pursuerepparttar 126982 supporting Scripture passage, theological writings or conciliar document. Those who contend thatrepparttar 126983 Bible isrepparttar 126984 sole reference for faith life miss out on these profound resources.

How isrepparttar 126985 catechism structured? It begins withrepparttar 126986 Apostolic Letter fromrepparttar 126987 Holy Father which describesrepparttar 126988 evolution ofrepparttar 126989 text and authorizes it as a valid reference for teachingrepparttar 126990 faith. A review ofrepparttar 126991 Contents page shows thatrepparttar 126992 catechism is set upon four “pillars” which formrepparttar 126993 framework ofrepparttar 126994 entire text. These pillars, andrepparttar 126995 doctrines they present, are as follows:

Profession of Faith - This part ofrepparttar 126996 Catechism discusses man’s relationship with God andrepparttar 126997 unfolding of God’s revelation to man. God chose to reveal Himself slowly over time as Father, Son and Spirit, andrepparttar 126998 reader begins to seerepparttar 126999 deep mystery of this relationship. The text carefully lays outrepparttar 127000 importance ofrepparttar 127001 Old and New Testaments and their value torepparttar 127002 Christian. The reader is then taken on a journey throughrepparttar 127003 twelve articles ofrepparttar 127004 Profession of Faith,repparttar 127005 creed that summarizesrepparttar 127006 key truths ofrepparttar 127007 Catholic religion. In summary, this part ofrepparttar 127008 Catechism explains:

A. Divine Revelation

B. Apostolic Tradition

C. Relationship between Scripture and Tradition

D. Sacred Scripture

E. The Profession of Faith (referencingrepparttar 127009 Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds)

Celebration of Christian Mystery - In this part ofrepparttar 127010 Catechism, we plumbrepparttar 127011 depths ofrepparttar 127012 seven Sacraments. Many of us receivedrepparttar 127013 Sacraments in our youth but never understood how deeply they are grounded in Sacred Scripture, Tradition, andrepparttar 127014 teachings ofrepparttar 127015 great Fathers ofrepparttar 127016 Church. The new Catechism opens up each Sacrament and carefully explainsrepparttar 127017 layers of meaning for each of these powerful gifts. Living among many “Bible-only” Christian groups, this exposition is most valuable in helping us defend these profound moments of grace. The text also gives us an understanding of sacramentals, those physical objects which serve to excite pious devotion and remembrance of holy people or events. In summary, this part ofrepparttar 127018 Catechism explains:

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