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YOUCAT Series 6 – What We Believe: The Christian Profession of Faith

Questions 25 to 29
Here we look at why we need to have a definite profession of faith. We look at the origins of the Creeds and what they say.

The best source that I’ve come across regarding the Creed is the General Directory for Catechesis. I have used parts of it below that correspond to the questions. Although it may be directed at the role of catechesis surrounding the Creeds, nevertheless, I think it is beneficial to study them in that context anyway.

Q. 25 – As the YOUCAT states, the Creeds are ‘the foundation for the Church’s unity’ and prevent Christ’s message ‘from misunderstandings and falsifications.’ Moreover the Directory says,

[a] Who has encountered Christ desires to know him as much as possible, as well as to know the plan of the Father which he revealed. Knowledge of the faith (fides quae) is required by adherence to the faith (fides qua). (252) Even in the human order the love which one person has for another causes that person to wish to know the other all the more. Catechesis, must, therefore, lead to “the gradual grasping of the whole truth about the divine plan”, (253) by introducing the disciples of Jesus to a knowledge of Tradition and of Scripture, which is “the sublime science of Christ”. (254) By deepening knowledge of the faith, catechesis nourishes not only the life of faith but equips it to explain itself to the world. The meaning of the Creed, which is a compendium of Scripture and of the faith of the Church, is the realization of this task.

[b] St Cyril of Jerusalem affirms with regard to the Creed: “This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as a mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too the summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and New Testaments”.

Q. 26 goes on to discuss the Creeds as the common Christian confession of faith;

The object of catechesis is expressed in profession of faith in the one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

82. Catechesis is that particular form of the ministry of the word which matures initial conversion to make it into a living, explicit and fruitful confession of faith: “Catechesis has its origin in the confession of faith and leads to confession of faith.” (240)

The profession of faith inherent in Baptism (241) is eminently Trinitarian. The Church baptizes “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28,19) (242) the triune God to whom the Christian entrusts his life. Initiatory catechesis—both before and after the reception of Baptism—prepares for this decisive undertaking. Continuing catechesis helps to mature this profession of faith, to proclaim it in the Eucharist and to renew the commitments which it entails. It is important that catechesis should unite well the confession of christological faith, “Jesus is Lord”, with the trinitarian confession, “I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, in such a way that there are not two modes of expressing the Christian faith. He who is converted to Jesus Christ and recognizes him as Lord through the primary proclamation of the Gospel begins a process which, aided by catechesis, necessarily leads to explicit confession of the Trinity.

In the confession of faith in the one God, the Christian rejects all service of any human absolute; “power, pleasure, race, ancestors, state, wealth…”, (243) and is thus liberated from the enslavement of any idol. It is the proclamation of his will to serve God and man without any ties. In proclaiming faith in the Trinity, which is a communion of Persons, the disciple of Jesus Christ shows at once that the love of God and neighbour is the principle which informs his being and his action.

83. The confession of faith is complete only in reference to the Church. All the baptized individually proclaim the Credo, for no action can be more personal than this. However, they recite it in the Church and through the Church, because they do so as members of the Church. ‘Credo’ and ‘Credimus’ necessarily imply each other. (244) In fusing his confession of faith with that of the Church, the Christian is incorporated into her mission: to be the “universal sacrament of salvation” for the life of the world. He who makes the profession of faith takes on responsibilities that not infrequently provoke persecution. In Christian history the martyrs are proclaimers and witnesses par excellence. (245)

Furthermore, as an appendage to Q. 27, some information on the use of the Creed,

In the patristic period properly, catechumenal formation was realized through biblical catechesis, based on recounting the history of salvation; immediate preparation for Baptism by doctrinal catechesis, explaining the Creed and the Our Father which had just been handed on, together with their moral implications; and through the phase following the sacraments of initiation, a period of mystagogical catechesis which help the newly baptized to interiorize these sacraments and incorporate themselves into the community.

Then Q. 28, on the Apostles’ Creed:

– The Apostles’ Creed demonstrates how the Church has always desired to present the Christian mystery in a vital synthesis. This Creed is a synthesis of and a key to reading all of the Church’s doctrine, which is hierarchically ordered around it. (393)

Lastly, see The Nicene Creed- A Roadmap For Our Faith for a quick overview of the Nicene Creed for Q. 29.

Reflection Questions
• What does the word ‘catechesis’ mean?

• What would you say to a Christian who said they didn’t need to go to Church to have a relationship with God?

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YOUCAT Series 3 – What We Believe: Man Is Receptive to God

Questions 3 to 6
This chapter of the YOUCAT: Man Is Receptive to God, draws heavily on an understanding of the metaphysical, which in layman’s terms is; what is not physical, what is invisible or the spiritual element of existence.

Q. 3
Joel Hodge writes about our yearning for God in an article called The value of theology and the mystery of life;

What Christian faith involves is completely natural to human living: we place our faith in an Other who shows us what it means to be human by his living. We all do this in some form. Christianity is explicit about it, so much so that we devote an academic discipline – theology – to the rational study and explication of our faith. This is, in part, why theology is ‘queen of the sciences’ as it is concerned with the most important and fundamental human questions and experiences. It is the love of God in Jesus that has also allowed Christians to know their lives better, and so flourish in terms of art, music, knowledge, and so on. In this regard, the works of Rodney Stark and René Girard, amongst others, have shown how Christianity has revolutionised human thought and culture.

Q. 4
Moving on to human reason;

The most regarded document on the link between faith and reason is Fides et Ratio by Bl. Pope John Paul II:

Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).

In reading this text we begin to see just how important a solid grounding in the field of philosophy is to fully appreciate our faith and to be able to have meaningful dialogue with others about what we believe and, moreover, to understand the principles of theology.

Q. 5
Indeed, if you have ever had dialect with a non-believer, you would have an insight into this question and just how important a knowledge of philosophy, and consequentially, the appeal to human reason is.

If for instance, every day we struggle with wanting to do our own thing and especially if in the past you have had a lapse of faith or weren’t a religious person, you will know how easily we can convince ourselves that because it is hard to live a life close to God, such a life would limit our freedom and therefore must be wrong. In reality though, only a life in Christ guarantees our freedom.

The Pope’s Message for 2011 World Youth Day does a lot to explain this;

Dear friends, the Cross often frightens us because it seems to be a denial of life. In fact, the opposite is true! It is God’s “yes” to mankind, the supreme expression of his love and the source from which eternal life flows. Indeed, it is from Jesus’ heart, pierced on the Cross, that this divine life streamed forth, ever accessible to those who raise their eyes towards the Crucified One. I can only urge you, then, to embrace the Cross of Jesus, the sign of God’s love, as the source of new life. Apart from Jesus Christ risen from the dead, there can be no salvation! He alone can free the world from evil and bring about the growth of the Kingdom of justice, peace and love to which we all aspire.

However, as he points out in this article, we must remember that ‘[i]t is better to be a searching agnostic than a false believer.’

Q. 6
Yes, we must tell others about our faith!

It is our responsibility to engage with non-believers firstly by appealing to their faculty of reason, vouching for the existence of God and the truth of His Church.

How do we do this seemingly impossible task? Firstly we must remember that when a person outrightly denies or is ambivalent about the existence of God, as the question says, they hope deep down that beyond this life they cannot have come from nothing and go back to nothing. This gives us the confidence to undertake this task, but also, we must remember the value of prayer and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we have been given, especially in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation – These inspire us to do what is right.

Here is a website on evangelization called Ask a Catholic a Question which has some helpful advice.

Lastly, as Archbishop Chaput said, ‘teaching the truth should always be done with patience and compassion, as well as firmness.’

Reflection Questions
• What is the meaning of the word ‘theology’?

• With the notion of freedom, what are we free from?

YOUCAT Series 2 – What We Believe: Why We Are Able to Believe

Forward
What more could one say about the YOUCAT? I agree, it is really well written, it covers a lot, it is based on the Catechism and even references it.

I don’t want to change any of that in this series. What I intend to do here is what Pope Benedict XVI has asked of us – share on the Internet. This way it will become interactive, intelligible, alive!

So what a book can not do, we can do here; share, discuss, reflect, and learn to love our faith more and more.

I want to provide you with some great links that people have written on the topics as we go through them; some are blog posts, some web pages, others official Church documents. I want to leave you with lots to think about and I hope you will find out more about the topics and share this knowledge back with us.

So let’s begin with Section One: Why We Are Able to Believe.

Questions 1 to 2
Here we look at why we are here and what our purpose is.

Right from the get-go in the YOUCAT we get into some pretty in-depth topics: What does it mean to be human? Why are we here? How does God show His love for us?

Seriously, if you have been looking for more in your life, then a study of Catholicism is definitely for you!

Now you may have guessed that sometimes the answers to these tough questions are not so easy to hear, it means that to agree with Catholic doctrine and live your life accordingly can be hard work. Anything worthwhile though requires hard work, does it not?

As this post from VirtuousPla.net says,

The problem with the way we think about our human nature and the Church’s teaching is that we somehow see the sacramental, dogmatic, and devotional life of the Church as being separate from the fulness of human reality. We think we can be sufficiently human without these things–in a secular world, independent of all the so-called “shackles” of Church dogma, “oppression,” “patriarchy,” and all the other bogey-man buzzwords that so get us moderns shaking in our boots. But the truth of the matter is that secular modern culture is a front-running candidate for the most inhuman of all structures, the most idiotically oppressive, patriarchal, and barbaric of all cultures to have ever existed! If cultures of the past forced man to think only about the hereafter and the things above, then our culture forces man to think only about the present and the things below. If ancient cultures robbed the masses of their livelihoods, then our present culture robs the masses of that one so-very-human quality we all seek: their very reason for living.

This reminds me too, of an article that I read a while back: ‘Pope to young people: Don’t be afraid to ask the big questions in life’;

“Man cannot live without this search for the truth about himself; truth that spurs us towards new horizons and to go beyond what that is merely material, not to escape from reality but to live a more authentic life, richer in meaning and hope,” he said.

So to take away from that, let’s not be afraid to ask the big questions, let’s face them head on together. Some questions I will leave you with to think about are below, and I’ve also added a few links to some great blog posts as well.

Reflection Questions
• What does the term ‘metaphysical’ mean?

• When Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life’ (Jn 14:6), What did He mean?

Further Reading
Meaning of life – Why did God create us?

YOUCAT Series 1 – Introduction

Universal Faith will be hosting a series on the YOUCAT (Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church).

I thought I would begin by explaining what it is all about;

YOUCAT uses the “four pillars” format of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, while presenting the faith in a lively, visually appealing way. It fulfills Pope Benedict XVI’s desire to have a catechism that responds to the needs of today’s youth using a design they will find attractive and understandable. Pope Benedict has said of YOUCAT, “Study this Catechism! This is my heartfelt desire.” We think YOUCAT will become the “go-to” book for today’s Catholic youth when it is introduced at World Youth Day in Madrid. It will become an indispensible resource for every young person in your school or parish. (Ignatious Press).

To get the most out of this series it would be useful to have a copy of the YOUCAT. It is surprisingly inexpensive and can be purchased online at Amazon.com.

In the meantime here is a preview for you to read.

Next time we will start by looking at Part 1.