Catechism of the Catholic Church
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - July 12, 2018 - 12:00am

What does it mean to be a Christian? What are the teachings of the Catholic Church? What do people who profess the Catholic faith truly believe?

I spent almost my entire school years in a Catholic school. I remember that during my grade school years in La Salle-Bacolod, every year we had a subject called Catechism. It was much later that I discovered that catechism comes from the word catechesis which means “...an education in the faith of children, young people and adults which includes especially the teachings of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking , in an organic and systematic way with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of the Christian life.”

There are several books and reading materials that shed light for any person seeking to appreciate and understand the teachings of the Church. The premiere source is the Holy Bible. There are also the Papal Encyclicals. One book I would highly recommend is Catechism Of The Catholic Church: Definitive Edition published by the World & Life Publications CBCP/ECCE. The book begins with an Apostolic Letter from Pope John Paul II: “ It is a cause for great joy that the Latin typical edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is being published. It is approved and promulgated by me in this Apostolic Letter and thus becomes the definitive text of the aforementioned Catechism....may this Catechism be known and shared by everyone, so that the unity in faith whose supreme model and origin is found in the Unity of the Trinity may be strengthened to the ends of the earth.”

The Catechism is divided into four parts. This is how the authors describe each part.

Part One: The Profession of Faith 

The Apostles’ Creed is considered to be a summary of the apostles’ faith.  This also summarizes the faith that Catholics profess. The Creed is divided into three parts – each one distinct but connected with each other. The first part talks of belief in God and the work of creation: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth...”

The second part talks of Jesus the divine person and the mystery of Redemption: “And in Jesus Christ, His Only Son our Lord. He was Conceived by the Power of the Holy Spirit  and was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day He rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right Hand of the Father. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.”

The third part speaks of the Holy Spirit, the origin and source of our sanctification. “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the Resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”

Part Two: The Sacraments of Faith

Christ initiated the seven sacraments which touch all the stages and all the important moments of a Christian life.  Part Two is divided into three chapters. The first chapter is on the sacraments of Christian initiation which lay the foundation of every Christian life. “ Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit and the door which gives access to other sacraments. It is by the sacrament of confirmation that the baptized “...are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit...they are true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defeat the faith by word and deed.” The Eucharist is the “...source and summit of Christian life...in the Blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ Himself.”

The two sacraments of healing are Penance and the Anointment of the Sick. The sacrament of Penance consists of three acts – repentance by the sinner, confession of sins to a priest and the intention to make reparations and do work of reparations. The Church believes that there is one sacrament especially intended for those who are being tried by illness – the Anointment of the Sick.

Two sacraments are directed towards the salvation of others. Holy Order is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted to His apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time. “The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For this reason the family home is called the domestic church. Matrimony is the covenant between baptized persons which has been raised by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament.”

Part Three: The Life of Faith

“ The third part of the Catechism deals with the final end of man created in the image of God: beatitude and the ways of reaching it – through right conduct freely chosen, with the help of God’s law and grace and through conduct that fulfils the twofold commandment of charity specified in God’s Ten commandments. 

Part Four: Prayer in the Life of Faith

The last part of the Catechism deals with the meaning and importance of prayer in the life of believers. It concludes with a brief commentary on the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, for indeed we find in these the sum of all good things which we must hope for, and which our Heavenly Father wants to grant us.”

Perhaps it is true that many Catholics have taken their faith for granted. It may be time for Catholics to make an effort to truly understand their Faith.

Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout on July  21, August 4 and 18 (1:30 p.m.-3 p.m.; stand-alone sessions) at Fully Booked BGC. For details and registration contact 0945-2273216 or writethingsph@gmail.com.

Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

CATHOLIC CHURCH CATHOLICISM
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