Sunday, January 18, 2009

Thoughts on the Catechism

I'm attempting to read the Catechism from cover to cover, and I came across something in the prologue (yeah I haven't gotten very far) that I keep rolling over in my mind. Let me back up a second by asking this: what comes to mind when you hear the wordCatechesis? (Or Catechism).

When I hear those words, I think of necessary but dull classes, probably taught by a lackluster teacher...I think dry, I think memorization. Which is why I was a little surprised when I read: "Catechesis is intimately bound up with the whole of the Church's life. Not only her geographical extension and numerical increase, but even more her inner growth and correspondence with God's plan depend essentially oncatechesis"(Prologue I 7)

This instantly made sense to me, even though it was surprising. The inner growth of the Church depends upon Catechesis! Of course, Catechesis is simply passing on the faith, wherever that happens--and if a person only receives part of the faith because they aren't Catechised well, then their life of faith is probably going to be lacking. It's much easier to fall into sin if you have not been taught what God requires. Righteous values are not taught by osmosis from the culture at large. And for me, being a person who hasn't been formally Catechised in Catholicism, there's still so much I don't know about living the Catholic faith. It's like having a little toolbox to assist in living the Christian life instead of a big toolbox.

The idea of Catechesis breathing life into faith seems so out-of-the-box to me, and I'm not sure why; the first time I read the Catechism I realized it was chock full of amazing stuff. Maybe it's my Protestant sensibilities; my intuition tells me that as a Protestant I was much more focused on 'personal discovery' rather than looking for guidance from any Church. I've written a little about this before--the sense of being on my own with God rather than being shepherded by the Church. There seems to be an evangelical consensus out there that we should experience God in a fresh way rather than by following tradition. There is a sense that tradition is not life-giving. But becoming Catholic is tied up with embracing the Christian tradition, not exactly the same as it has always been, but with an organic connection to what has been from the beginning. It's pretty sweet to have a book that basically distills the last 2000 years of theological thought-when you look at it that way, reading the Catechism from cover to cover is not that many pages.


Jim McCullough said...

Good observation on the prologue. Just take the Catechism in small, bite-sized pieces and chew them over carefully. Filling!

jogger mom said...

Filling indeed. Good advice!