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!
I was never a child for sticking blindly to the rules. While I desperately didn’t want to get into trouble, at the same time I despised being told “Because I said so!” whether by parents, teachers or other adults. “Because I said so!” never worked with me, not because I’m naturally disobedient but because I need a purpose.
Truth vs opinion
It was perhaps this dislike for blind obedience that kept me away from the Church for most of my teenage years. The world told me that I should be able to do as I please, that no organisation should be able to tell me what’s right and what’s wrong. Yet in my need for purpose, I also need certainties so the philosophy of society doesn’t appeal to me.
Like me, many people search for something more definitive: our hearts, as St Augustine pointed out, are restless because we are made for God alone. We hunger for something more than our own opinions. Thirty-five years ago, my mum converted to Catholicism from the Church of England for this very reason. The idea that there could be such a thing as one truth appealed to her, even that an organisation called “Catholic Truth Society” could exist.
There is an appeal in knowing that there is one Truth, something bigger than our own opinions. Perhaps it is only in silencing our own opinions that we can be open to God, as Mother Angelica said:
“I need to be detached from my own opinions in order to be open to the quiet inspirations of the Holy Spirit. Only then will I be able to discern what He is saying and what He desires.”
We can only be quiet our opinions, however, if we know that there is a Truth that we are not required to work out by ourselves.
The Church is a patient Mother
As a Catholic, I don’t want to adjust my belief in God to my desires, but instead I want to adjust my desires to suit God. This is precisely why, despite my teenage reservations, I love being a Catholic. The Church doesn’t tell us to consult our conscience and make up our own minds, but gives us certainties. She tells us what’s right and what’s wrong.
The Church, contrary to popular belief, does not say, “Because I said so!” She is a patient Mother who loves her children, the faithful, enough to explain to them why she asks of us what she does. As an independent, free-thinking, intelligent person, the Catechism of the Catholic Church therefore gives me great joy: here I have access not only to the teachings of the Church, but also I am introduced to the many sources from which the teachings originate. I have always found comfort in its existence.
Admittedly, the Catechism isn’t always easy to understand. As a teenager, a group of us met in Starbucks (of all places!) to read the Catechism. We were eager for knowledge but despite our enthusiasm, we didn’t get very far. The Catechism is daunting and it has stayed on my shelf since then, gathering dust. Now in the days of the Internet, it doesn’t even get flicked through.
Devoting a year to the Catechism
I decided that 2018 would be the year that would change: this year I’m determined to read the Catechism. Thanks to A Year with the Catechism, I will have a little more help than before: this time, I have the experts to hand. The Catechism is a wonderful gift to the faithful; here is one Catechism for the universal Church, a document that anyone in the world can consult and which most of us have easy access to. As Pope St John Paul II pointed out,
“The Church now has at her disposal this new, authoritative exposition of the one and perennial apostolic faith”.
What an incredible gift this saintly pope left us! I look forward to finally reading and understanding it, to having my eyes opened to the beauty of the Truth.
A Year with the Catechism, The Catechism in 365 days. By Petroc Willey, Fr Dominic Scotto, Dr Donald Asci,& Elizabeth Siegel