April 19, 2006

Necessary Adaptations

Under the subheading, "Necessary Adaptations" in the Prologue of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, We read today in the Prologue of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
23 The Catechism emphasizes the exposition of doctrine. It seeks to help deepen understanding of faith. In this way it is oriented towards the maturing of that faith, its putting down roots in personal life, and its shining forth in personal conduct.

That packs a lot.

The first two points are that catechesis lays out the teachings of the faith for me with the aim of helping me deepen my understanding of the faith.

The last sentence has the heavy packages:
(1) mature knowledge of the faith;
(2) faith sinking deep roots into my life;
(3) faith shining out of the way I choose to live.

I'm going to take those three as applying to:
(1) my present;
(2) my past;
(3) my future.

the maturing of ... faith, its putting down roots in personal life, and its shining forth in personal conduct

Taking number 1 at face value. I am an adult. I need and esteem an adult's intellectual knowledge of the faith, as opposed to whatever I may have left behind or forgotten as soon the bishop's Chrism-bearing thumb departed from my forehead at my teenage confirmation. How have I used my mind since then? As far as my faith goes, have I read anything worthy of an adult mind, worthy of mature knowledge? If I did, or if I do, I may need to challenge not only the way I think about things, but also the way I feel about things. What I know or don't know--that is what calls up or calls on my feelings, particular feelings and the intensity or lack of specific feelings.

That is precisely where number 2 begins to happen. What I increasingly know begins to confront how I know and experience my past, my roots--my past thoughts and my past feelings (my present thoughts and my present feelings too). I may struggle emotionally with what I now increasingly know. I may face new sadness and old sadness as I meet God in Christ in the testimony of the Church. I may get angry. I may become fearful. I may also have moments of new rejoicing. My emotional past and present may begin to acquire new profiles. I could also just shut out this knowledge. Knowledge has roots that reach in and reach down. God's ancient people were aware that "knowing" is intimacy, even sexual intimacy.

Throughout numbers 1 and 2, I have also begun to engage number 3: conduct, choices ... shaping my present but especially shaping my future. Knowledge of (intimacy with) God's glory and the glory he gives me in Christ--this knowledge of what is "true, good, unified, beautiful"--how do I co-own this through my choices, and how do I let it co-own me through my choices? I am also free to let nothing change, to do nothing about and nothing for and nothing based on what I have come to know--and the One I have come to know.

What's a catechism supposed to do for me?

Whatever I let it do for me. "Necessary Adaptations" indeed!


I posted this earlier today on the Catechism Dialogue Blog.
Click HERE for it.


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