PARAGRAPHS 74-141 OF CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
1. What are the central themes or ideas the Catechism is communicating in this week’s readings?
The central themes communicated in the first week’s reading from the Catechism are about the existence of God and the transmission of Sacred Tradition in harmony with the Magisterium and Sacred Scripture. To compliment the manifold experience of the believer in those points, there is a brief introduction to proper biblical hermeneutics.
There is also an important theme of the believer responding in taking in the truth of the above and specifically regarding scripture. The tone is set for all in the Church to participate in the deposit of faith.
The Church “forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ (para.133).
It cannot be plainer than that. And by using the quote from St. Jerome of the 4th century, one can see the responsibility the Catholic Church puts on people to study the Bible for themselves.
2. What does this contribute to our understanding of who God is, and who we are as His children?
This teaches us that the Church in the trifecta of the Magisterium, Tradition and Scripture stand as an ongoing instrument of proposing His enduring love in salvation to be accepted in the gospel. This gospel is applicable to all peoples in all generations. The figurative translation of “catholic” is universal while the literal one is “according to the whole”. In this reading there are indications of both definitions as they are appropriated in and through the Church founded and maintained by Jesus free from all dogmatic error as shown below.
The Father’s self-communication made through his Word in the Holy Spirit, remains present and active in the Church: “God, who spoke in the past, continues to converse with the Spouse of his beloved Son. And the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel rings out in the Church – and through her in the world – leads believers to the full truth, and makes the Word of Christ dwell in them in all its richness” (para.74).
The beautiful inference here is that the proposal of God’s love is in fatherly and nuptial language. I can anticipate later how liturgical language comes in as part of our response to the proposal. This also contributes to my understanding of God where it involves proposing versus imposing. And this proposition is best presented in the character of Christ as demonstrated in the Penn Jillete clip played in class.
3. What was it about these sections of the Catechism that resonated with me, personally? Why?
Coming out of Protestantism there was a constant duel with either/or paradigms one God’s election and man’s free will in soteriology. However, I find the approach in these paragraphs of the CCC to be altogether holistic and with humility to the mystery of God’s grace. But that is not to say that it is entirely a mystery. The message in the Gospel is the unveiling of God’s nature and explicit in the flesh and blood historical Savior.
I would also like to highlight much of my entire Christian journey before and after becoming a Catholic has been centered in Acts 2:42. In paragraph 84 of the CCC, I see an ideal of the early Church called to grow under the guardianship of the Magisterium.
The apostles entrusted the “Sacred deposit” of the faith (the depositum fidei),45 contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to the whole of the Church. “By adhering to [this heritage] the entire holy people, united to its pastors, remains always faithful to the “teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” [Acts 2:42]. So, in maintaining, practicing and professing the faith that has been handed on, there should be a remarkable harmony between the bishops and the faithful (para. 84).
Reading this is a humbling blow to the restorationist man I used to be. The part on “the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” is a verse (Acts 2:42) that I used to think I had figured out. Now I read this and remember that my instructor points to the four sections of the Catechism of The Catholic Church and shows how they nail each of those line items of scripture. When I consider how the Church has nailed those essentials continually for two thousand years I am humbled that I could have found Acts 2:42 in its proper implementation at a Catholic (or possibly Orthodox) parish down the street when I noticed this verse in 1989.
As I reflect on the “should” there, I am inspired all the more to at least be a bridge to ecumenism and hopefully be even more effective in seeing my separated brethren come into the fulness of the truth in the Catholic Church.
From my degree in the social sciences I would say there is no logical explanation that this institution would last for two thousand years against so much opposition and much less be able to guard the “Sacred deposit” so well. But it has. The oak tree looks different from the seed but the DNA is the same.
As I write this in my beginning of a two year journey in the Kino Catechetical Institute, and possibly seven if I go towards the diaconate ministry, I can do no less than cover my mouth and ask for God to teach me all that I can proclaim his love.