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:

Family Life in Christ

Written by Gary Shirley

God ordainedrepparttar Christian family to have a specific design - a man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children. The family is calledrepparttar 126933 domestic church because it is a community of faith, hope and charity. Withinrepparttar 126934 family, we first learn to respectrepparttar 126935 sanctity of life from conception to natural death. This means welcoming children intorepparttar 126936 marriage through birth or adoption but also learning to show reverence forrepparttar 126937 life of others such asrepparttar 126938 elderly,repparttar 126939 infirm,repparttar 126940 poor,repparttar 126941 disabled, andrepparttar 126942 imprisoned.

Every member ofrepparttar 126943 Christian family has a God-ordained function. Though equal inrepparttar 126944 sight of God, men and women have entirely different responsibilities. As stated so clearly inrepparttar 126945 Catechism: “Divine fatherhood isrepparttar 126946 source of human fatherhood...” which reaffirmsrepparttar 126947 importance of man’s function asrepparttar 126948 head ofrepparttar 126949 family. Though equal (as God) torepparttar 126950 Father, Christ himself lived and died in supreme obedience torepparttar 126951 will ofrepparttar 126952 Father. Throughout faith history, men have been called to leadership roles by God, from Adam to Noah to David to Moses to Paul to Peter. This call to leadership does not necessarily infer perfection, capability or skill, butrepparttar 126953 call is nonetheless intrinsic to manhood. Pervasive gender-role confusion in our society today makes it is easy to dismiss or compromise this primordial function of men to lead their families to God.

To carry out their responsibility, men are to be servant leader of all in their charge. Leaders provide a clear vision, set a solid example, and help others in their pursuit of holiness. Fathers must ensure that their children are brought up inrepparttar 126954 faith,repparttar 126955 beginning of which is their own life being one of Christian holiness. Men who abdicate their leadership responsibility under some mistaken notion of “sensitivity” bring disorder intorepparttar 126956 family andrepparttar 126957 society. A simple review of crime statistics in our land revealsrepparttar 126958 terrible impact of fathers who ignored or minimized their prescribed role.

Woman’s role as wife and mother differs from but complements that ofrepparttar 126959 man. St. Paul reminds us of God’s intent to provide a helpmate and partner to man, “For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”(1 Cor 11: 8-9).

Modeling themselves onrepparttar 126960 Blessed Mother, women are called to support and honor their husband’s role asleader ofrepparttar 126961 family. In her function as wife and mother, a woman brings wonderful attributes such as nurturing care, tenderness and compassion to family life. As with her husband, a wife is called to a life of holiness and Christian example.

Children are called to proffer respect for parents out of gratitude for having given themrepparttar 126962 gift of life (CCC #2216-2218)*. Respect is shown by docility and obedience to parents during one’s childhood. Obedience ceases with emancipation, but respect does not. Grown children are reminded to assist their aging parents as much as possible with material and moral support, as well as in times of illness, loneliness and distress.

Sacramental marriage isrepparttar 126963 foundation ofrepparttar 126964 family. It isrepparttar 126965 gift of self, a gift that is freely given and total in nature. The perpetual and exclusive bond of marriage createsrepparttar 126966 sanctuary whereinrepparttar 126967 security ofrepparttar 126968 family rests. The sacred covenant finds its physical manifestation inrepparttar 126969 sexual intimacy ofrepparttar 126970 marriage act between man and wife (CCC #2360; also Tob 8: 4-9). Reflecting this covenant,repparttar 126971 spouses’ physical union honorsrepparttar 126972 twofold end of marriage, which is to serverepparttar 126973 good ofrepparttar 126974 spouses (the “unitive”) and to be open torepparttar 126975 transmission of life (the “procreative”).

Children arerepparttar 126976 supreme gift of marriage, in contrast to our societal view which considers them a “right.” In our zeal to conceive a child at all costs, medical science offers us numerous techniques that attempt to produce a child byrepparttar 126977 disassociation of husband and wife orrepparttar 126978 involvement of a third party (such as donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus, or in-vitro fertilization). These actions violaterepparttar 126979 child’s right to be born of a loving act of father and mother. All such techniques are morally unacceptable (CCC # 2376-77). It is impossible to liverepparttar 126980 sacramental life while engaging in such practices, for we knowingly introduce other persons and processes intorepparttar 126981 loving act of procreation, an act that belongs rightly to husband, wife and God.

The intentional spacing of children, if undertaken for just reasons, also demands that we observe moral norms. Periodic continence (methods based on self-observation andrepparttar 126982 use of infertile periods, such as Natural Family Planning) respectsrepparttar 126983 individual spouses and offers a mutually supportive, natural means of spacing. Onrepparttar 126984 other hand, artificial birth control or any action which frustrates or thwartsrepparttar 126985 normal outcome ofrepparttar 126986 procreative act defrauds God and falsifiesrepparttar 126987 marital act. All such methods are morally unacceptable (CCC #2370).

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