Jude, part of the CTS team, made a New Year’s resolution: reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church in a year, accompanied by our new title A Year with the Catechism. In this series of blog posts, Jude – who blogs at The Reluctant Evangelist – shares her reflections on her journey through the Catechism. Stay tuned for new blog posts on A Year With the Catechism!
When I was seventeen, I found God in a cold, muddy field in Walsingham. I went there as a sceptic, unsure if God even existed. But I returned on fire with love for Jesus and desperate to get to know him better. I thought my life was about to change – and it did, in a way, but at the same time I went back to the same life, the same friends, wondering how to make sense of my newfound faith in the humdrum of daily life.
In a way, my conversion was a bit like taking an escalator up a mountain – only to get off and find I’m still not at the top – not even close – and the mountain looks just as daunting. The escalator got me onto the mountain so that I wouldn’t have to climb the first part by myself, but the rest of the climb will mostly be slow and steady, perhaps with a few falls and the occasional additional escalator. After an intense, incredible experience, faith rarely gets as easy as it feels during that initial time of conversion.
While sometimes this slow and steady journey of faith can feel frustrating, we have to wonder – how we would cope if God revealed himself to us all at once? We’re not prepared for it. Instead God reveals himself to us gradually, in a way that we can cope with. He teases us up the mountain, step by step, because he knows how much we can handle at once. I know that if even just two years ago God had told me that I would be where I am now, I would probably have panicked! How many of us can the say same, looking back over the years?
The Catechism reminds us how God has been doing this for the whole of salvation history. Ever since our first parents, he has been teasing mankind along the path of Revelation, revealing more and more of himself (CCC 53). Scripture tells us that “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4, cf. CCC 74), but because he “wishes to make [us] capable of responding to him, and of knowing him, and of loving him far beyond [our] own natural capacity,” (52) he reveals himself in little bits at the time.
The promised redemption
Since the time of our first parents, God had planned to reveal himself fully by sending his Son. However, he needed to prepare the world for his Son’s arrival, and so first he chose to reveal himself to our first parents, and “invited them to intimate communion with himself” (54) but they rejected him by bringing into the world the first sin.
Yet God continued to pursue man and promised redemption for the sins of our first parents (55). He then made a covenant with Noah (56), dispersing humanity so as “to limit the pride of fallen humanity” (57), before uniting humanity again under Abraham “the father of a multitude of nations” (59).
The prophets followed the patriarchs and God used them to “form his people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all, to be written on their hearts” (64).
Finally, God revealed himself fully to us in his Son. This is the last Word – “there will be no other word than this one.” (65) Now God’s plan is fully revealed, everything we need to know about him we can find in his Son. A Year With the Catechism puts this beautifully:
“God’s plan has a centre. It is a stage in the plan so decisive in its impact, so full in its implications, that all subsequent history is simply an unfolding of this supreme act.”
All that remains now is for the faithful to discern what is meant by it, which is what the Church has been doing for the past 2000 years.
So too in our lives, God reveals himself to us slowly. He knows that were we to come face to face with his plan for our lives immediately, we might panic. Instead he gradually reveals his plan for our lives, unravelling it slowly as we open up to him more and more. And if we need inspiration on living for God when we can’t see the full plan, the Catechism provides us with some holy examples of women who “kept alive the hope of Israel’s salvation” (64): Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Judith and Esther, but “the purest figure among them is Mary.” (64)
Catechism of the Catholic Church reference: 50-133
Quote for Your Diary: “Through an utterly free decision, God has revealed himself and given himself to man.” (CCC50)
A Year with the Catechism, The Catechism in 365 days. By Petroc Willey, Fr Dominic Scotto, Dr Donald Asci,& Elizabeth Siegel