As I begin this new teaching endeavor in the “Pastor’s Ponderings” section of our weekly parish bulletin, I want to first express why this series is being offered and what the end goal of this review of basics of Catholicism truly is.
As a backdrop, might I simply acknowledge that we live in times where there are many good intentions to confront and combat the decrease of lived faith within the Church. On the other hand, there is also a great deal of confusion over many elements of the life and faith teaching of the Church. Many in the Church are heeding the call to evangelize: seeking to draw people to Christ and into the Church or to lead them back to her in the fullness of the Church’s authenticity. However, in recent decades, in part due to failure to pass on the fullness of faith to those already in Church, both due to inadequate preaching and through inconsistent or even non-existent religious education, much confusion abounds. Add to this confusion over pure teaching the presence of scandals in the Church and a loss of trust in Catholic leaders – who far too often speak in ways that are inconsistent and ways, it can appear that there is no longer clear-cut teaching on many elements of the faith. Therefore, there is an urgent need to cut through the confusion, presenting the basics of the faith in their simplicity and in their completeness. But this has to be more than just conveying information….
There needs to be a very clear goal in this offering of teaching beyond simply “telling the truth.” For as recent popes have said, and in particular, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, our faith is not in a list of doctrines and laws – but in a person. Therefore, the basic teaching of the faith needs to be founded upon this encountering of the personal and Triune God – particularly in our encounter of Him in Jesus Christ – leading to what the Church calls “friendship” with God. There are already many good resources available that teach the truth. In this moment of New Evangelization, the emphasis on personal encounter and in growing in friendship with God in Jesus Christ are being brought forward more clearly. The goal for us – is to do both in one moment: to deliver the message of Jesus Christ in its fullest truth with the opportunity to grow in friendship with him.
Our basic sources for this journey will be primarily two books: “The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism,” which is an elementary level series of books that contain very clear and straightforward teaching, and the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” which will be drawn from and pointed toward for greater depth.
I will follow a twofold approach of short written columns (with a basic teaching each week, with references for further reading, prayer, and study), and with short and very simple videos to restate and even give some elaboration on the corresponding topic in the bulletin – making this teaching more widely available.
My hope and prayer – over the months ahead that through this renewed encounter with the basic beliefs and teaching of the Catholic faith, all who read and or view these Basics of Catholicism will give a greater “yes” to Jesus Christ, responding more fully to the call to be His followers and able to live that true relationship with Him in the fullest and most meaningful way.