Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Synopsis of the Holy Father's Catechesis for October 24

     Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has determined to begin the Year of Faith with a year of catechesis on faith.  So, trusting in the Holy Father’s ability to teach that which is timely and necessary for our spiritual growth, I have determined that this space will be used for a synopsis/explanation of his weekly catechesis so that we may all benefit from our Holy Father’s insight and wisdom.  It reminds me of the passage from the Acts of the Apostles where in describing the early Christian community it began by observing that the people were first of all “devoted to the teachings of the Apostles”.  Let us use this as an opportunity to begin our cultivation of that important virtue of charity for our successor to St. Peter and to the Apostles – Bishop Callahan.
     In his first catechesis for the “Year of Faith”, our Holy Father asks the question: “What is Faith?”  It is this question which will come back to us again and again throughout this year and around which his catechesis will revolve.
     He reminds us that the Church, which is the “teacher of humanity”, is the privileged place of encounter with the living God.  “Through the proclamation of the Word, the celebration of the sacraments and works of charity…she guides us to meeting and knowing Christ, true God and true man.”  Living a life of faith is not merely acknowledging that there is a God.  (Where have you heard this before?)  A life of faith then is an encounter with a living Person.  In this encounter we are transformed to our very core and we come to recognize our “true identity as children of God”.  This transformation then affects not only ourselves but the way we live our life in the whole of it.  This relationship which transforms us also transforms our relationship with all people.
     So, where to start?  Our Holy Father asserts that we must start with knowing better Whom it is that we encounter.  We do this, He teaches, by entering more deeply into the “symbol of baptism”, that is, the Creed.  I would note that Bishop Callahan has made a point of this since he has become our bishop in requiring that all candidates for confirmation know, by heart, the Apostle’s Creed.  Our Holy Father turns his attention to the creed which is professed (notice, I didn’t say “recited”) at Mass – the Nicene Creed.  In becoming more intimately familiar with the twelve points of the creed (in either form) we come to that core of faith which the Apostle Paul points out is our only boast.  Going further, our Holy Father reminds us that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, whose 20th anniversary we also observe, begins with a very full discussion of the faith based on the creed.  He encourages us to read this again and thoroughly.
     Finally, he explains that this encounter, this reading he has commended to us, is not about a mere review or a one time thing.  It is the beginning of living a life transformed and purposeful, a life lived to the full because it is lived according to God’s plan for us revealed in Jesus Christ.  This knowledge of our faith, this encounter with God through Jesus Christ transforms us in such a way that we find ourselves not being pushed and pulled about by the tides of public opinion and the angst that comes with changing morals in the society around us.  Rather, we can calmly, confidently, and with charity, live our lives according to God’s design and so transform not only ourselves, but the very world around us.
     May the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of God, and Star of the New Evangelization pray for us and guide us to this encounter with her Son.
See you at Sunday Mass!

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Comments are most welcome! As always, be charitable and remember the 8th Commandment (Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor).