Over the last two years on most weeks during that time we have been looking at the basic teachings of the Catholic Faith following the outline and ordering of the book The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism while using the official Catechism of the Catholic Church as our primary source for teaching. This final installment brings conclusion to this endeavor while pointing us forward in our pilgrimage of faith toward perfect love.
In the earliest installments and accompanying video episodes, we looked at the basic truths of the faith as expressed in the Creed – focusing primarily on God’s eternal and supreme existence as a trinity of persons - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In looking at “who” God is, emphasis was given to God’s interior nature as love as it is expressed in His works, particularly in His taking on of our human nature and in His saving works in the person of Jesus Christ. Next, we explored what it means to live in Christ as offered to us in the moral teaching of the Church – which can be summed up as God’s call to us to live in His love for us and to love one another. Third, we looked at the sacraments of the Church in detail, seeing how each sacrament is a gift of God’s love to us, given as grace, which draws us as members of the Church into closer and more perfect union with Him and one another. Finally, we treated the life of prayer as a necessary means of remaining in and growing in union and communion with God. In all, this walk through the basic truths of Catholicism has sought to present the life and teaching of the faith in clarity and simplicity, inviting us toward living it in a relationship of love of God and one another.
While these installments and videos have intended to give a clear summary of the Catholic faith in an understandable and accessible way, one last truth must be acknowledged about what has been presented: these installments of Basics of Catholicism are but a mere beginning. While each column and accompanying video has given a solid overview of the basic teachings of Catholicism, the level of depth that remains goes far beyond what was presented in these weekly installments. Thus, we ought not stop here; rather, each and all are encouraged to continue to seek deeper knowledge of Catholic faith through continuing to read or reread from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (minding that the footnotes in the Catechism point to many Scriptures that can be prayed, along with other sources that more specifically treat one or another topic). Likewise, I encourage you to bring to your individual prayer the teachings and way of life which we are called to live, and to not be afraid to seek deeper knowledge of the true faith even while praying. Finally, it remains essential to be receptive to formal opportunities for learning more about particular and timely topics as they are specifically presented through such things as good Catholic books, adult faith formation, and simply in being willing to ask the questions that may arise in your heart that invite deeper understanding of the gift of the Catholic faith.
As we draw to a close, I make one final plea: to not be afraid to let God’s love fill your heart. Yes, all that we teach and believe as Catholics points toward and truly is meant to bring about a deep, personal love for God. 1 John 4:10 puts it this way: “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” As it is God who loves us first and who willing sent His Son to save us from sin, our call is first about opening up to His love. The truth of the Catholic faith is perfectly one with this love – for Jesus Himself also said He is the Truth (see John 14:6). May each of you continue to grow in knowledge of God’s love for you, leading you to the Truth, that you may be perfected in love for Him and you neighbor for all eternity.