Friday, 26 October 2012

Thoughts on the Catechism 1

In this Year of Faith, it seems a good thing to work through the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and ponder some of the key themes and ideas. Alternatively, one might go through the spin-offs, YouCat, or the Compendium of the Catechism. If your interest is social teaching, there is also the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. I am finding the Magnificat Year of Faith Companion tremendously helpful. It contains daily reading for this year and any year on the nature of faith, profiles of key figures of salvation history, poems, prayers, and meditations on scripture. CTS also have many helpful booklets.

In these very personal notes that follow, I will be dipping in and looking at Faith (below), Authority, God, Creation, Original Sin, and so on, as part of my own spiritual enquiry for the Year of Faith. You are welcome to join me. I don't claim any authority for my statements, which are just one attempt to deepen my appreciation of the Church's teaching and to examine any difficulties that may emerge along the way.

Let's begin with FAITH. I gave some relevant quotes in a previous post, but the idea I want to start from now is a quotation from Pope Benedict in a Litany of quotations selected for the Magnificat Year of Faith Companion: "Faith entails the shift from dependence on the visible and practicable to trust in the invisible." This brings out why exactly it is so seemingly impossible to believe. Trust the invisible?
When there are so many solid and tangible things it would seem more prudent to rely on? Can we take the risk? Can we take the risk, especially, when those who do claim to be Christian (looking at the Church from outside) seem no better, no happier, than the rest of us, and when those who speak loudest about their faith are often hypocrites?

And yet if God is God he must be invisible. "If God were visible, we would see nothing else." And if he truly loves us he would want us to be as good as possible but also as free as possible, and so would interfere and overrule our will as little as possible. That is enough to explain the sins of Christians – the Church is for sinners not saints. But it also explains the saints, who are those who manage to pass through the eye of the needle. Despite the glare of the world they realize they are walking in the dark, and, penetrating into that darkness beyond sight, they manage to hold God's hand as he walks beside them.

Faith is like touch, and it is a kind of trust. Even in everyday life, we trust what we can feel and hold, what seems solid to us, more than what we see. We have to learn to feel in that way when it comes to God – actually to feel God, to have an experience that corresponds to holding his hand, or being held and helped in the dark. Of course we may make mistakes. We may reach out in the wrong direction, or we may grasp something other than God. That is why prayer comes before faith, because we have to call out for God, to find him. "Nothing that is not called will ever come." As yet we perhaps don't even know what it might mean to experience God's presence.

A dialogue I wrote on the human search for GOD may be found elsewhere on our main site, in the "About Christianity" section. Or go directly here to a pdf. For Pope Benedict's introduction to a series of talks on the Year of Faith go here and follow the link provided.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I very much enjoyed your 'Conversation with a Sceptic' pdf. All ideas I had encountered before, but not so accessible and comprehensible as a continuum. And I had long overlooked the idea of evil as a privation.
    The whole thing had a powerful imaginative impact and I lost several minutes staring out of the window! When I was a kid I used to sit on the stairs and spook myself by imagining infinity as an endless, empty, idiotic, echoing vastness; but the infinity of God as you portray it is the opposite: bright and bursting with almost inconceivable beauty.
    Feel a bit dizzy :-)