+JMJ+ I’ve been listening to the Catechism In A Year podcast, well, watching it on YouTube. And I have to tell you how much I am enjoying it. I’m not trying to post notes about it the way I tried to do with his Bible In A Year podcast.Continue reading “Doing the Catechism In A Year and I’m not even behind yet”
Tag: Catechism of the Catholic Church
Anotha cuppa and a few words, our first cuppa of 2023
+JMJ+ Oh, my goodness, where to start? First, I need a fresh cuppa. Ah, now, let me get situated here and I’ll tell you what happened. I was searching for info on the Magi (there’s a pun to be made there but I’m not making it) and then Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died, may he rest in peace. So I wanted to write something about him and decided to post some quotes and began another search.Continue reading “Anotha cuppa and a few words, our first cuppa of 2023 “
Handing on the faith
A few years ago a friend of mine who was an atheist, and pretty much unchurched in her background, asked if she could go to Mass with me. Remaining cool, calm and collected on the outside, I answered in my best deadpan (which is pretty good, actually), “Why, sure. If you want to.” And didn’t say another word about it. Carefully didn’t say another word about it. I didn’t want to blow it. And all the while my stomach was turning backflips and my inner voice was screaming, “YES! Awright! Uh huh! That’s what I’m talking about!”
A couple of months later she said, “You know, I was going to go to the park [with a mutual friend and their dogs] this weekend but I think I’d rather go to Mass with you instead.”
I controlled my response this time, too, but I know on the inside I was turning backflips again. But I didn’t want to do anything to ruin this opportunity so I still deadpanned the words, “Ok. I’ll pick you up at 10:30.” And we didn’t say anything else about it.
When Sunday morning arrived, I went to pick her up and she was ready and waiting. Eager, even. I allowed myself to feel, only now at this moment, excited and happy. We were going to do this. It was happening. God is so good.
I gave her the Catechism I’d bought for her. “You may not need it this moment. But you will need it. All these questions you’ve asked me over the last few months—the answers are in here. Most of them.”
She took the book and off we went. I knew how important this first Mass would be and I wanted it to be the first Mass, not the last. I wanted it to be a good experience, a reverent, holy experience. So I did what any sensible person in the Birmingham area would do. I took her to EWTN for Mass at their tiny chapel.
As we pulled into the parking lot, a friar walked by and she positively beamed. “Look! A monk! I’ve never seen a monk before!”
“And you still haven’t. He’s a Franciscan friar. Not a monk.”
But I can still see the look of wonder and discovery on her face. Still gives me great joy every time I remember it. Which is often.
We wandered around the grounds for a while. Then it was time to go in. Her wonder and joy had only grown every moment we were there. But when we entered the chapel, that wonder and joy overflowed. I noticed how effected she was by it all. By the simple beauty of the chapel. By the Gregorian chant led by a couple who blessed us often in those days with their voices and their willingness to lead the music. By the congregation and their responses and reverence and obvious devotion. By the humble priest and the readings and the homily that always cut me to the heart and they cut her to the heart, too.
But most of all what effected her was something she had not expected, had not known to expect: the overwhelming sense of light where she had expected a darkness (too many bad movies). And a sense that she could not have known to expect, nor how to describe or express it: the Presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle and on the Altar.
She fought back tears from the beginning of the Mass to the end. And I knew then that she was going to become Catholic. A few months later she made her decision. She wouldn’t even wait for the fall session of the RCIA to begin. Found a class beginning in April at a local parish (as Providence would have it, the only parish that offered RCIA at that time of year) and began reading everything she could get her hands on. Everything. I bought her books but quickly realized that she needed to follow her own path and follow it she did.
And then came the day of the RCIA. I was her sponsor and drove her to class and then we’d go to Mass together. Now when I went through the conversion process (as if it were over and not ongoing until the day I die), the little parish where I was to be received did not follow the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. (Thanks be to God! Some people have had wonderful times with it but I have not.) I attended classes from September leading up to Easter and there were only four of us and the Irish priest who taught us. This was a truly life-changing experience. And we were able to discuss things and ask questions and I was able to gain a deep understanding of Catholicism. I’d already been studying on my own and was able to make the most of my time with Fr. O. I will always treasure those evenings.
But my friend had the RCIA. Or, rather, she had what they tried to pass off as the RCIA. Only they did not follow the Rite, not at all. This was a sign of things to come only I didn’t realize it. Yet. I’ve written about some of it before. See Just an encyclical, Just an encyclical, oh yeah? and The Vatican does not accept Darwinian atheistic evolution. In that last post I mentioned that a class member almost left because of things the leader said at that session. I’d like to share more about that now.
By the second session of the “Not Really the RCIA” people had already established a habit of turning all the way around in their seats and looking at me whenever the leader made a pronouncement. On almost anything. The deacon leader, I’d like to add. I didn’t want it to be that way. And I tried to be as tactful as I could be. I mean, who was I? Do I have a certificate or a degree in theology? Am I a theologian? A catechist? No. But I had to speak up when I heard anyone, especially anyone responsible for handing on the faith, handing on a faith which did not resemble what I know as the faith. I didn’t argue about opinion. Indeed, I only spoke up when he tried to pass off his opinion as if it were the faith. There is no need to ever attempt to hand on your opinion instead of the faith. The faith is real, it exists, it’s been pondered and expounded upon, laid bare for all to see, expressed with eloquence and attention to detail, as a full expression of reason and reasoned reasoning and meditating upon the Word, by a Church founded and taught by Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit for 2,000+ years! Why on earth would anyone in his right mind even consider trying to make up his own version and try to pass it off as the real thing? Why try to reinvent the wheel?
But I’m getting ahead of myself. At this particular session, well into the program, the deacon decided once again to pretend the Catechism did not exist and got things off to a rousing start by telling the class about some archaeological or anthropological find, I don’t even remember what it was now. And that would have been fine. But then he went further and started talking about what it meant and quickly exceeded his understanding of what it meant and I don’t think he ever did have any understanding of what the Church taught on the subject. And I say that because…the Church does not teach anything on the subject at all!
He told the class that the Church teaches evolution. But he never clarified what he meant or what the Church really teaches. He led the whole class to believe that the Church and Darwin are in agreement and he tossed out 2,000 years of Christianity and God the Creator of the universe when he did so.
Guess how many people turned to look at me as soon as the words came out of his mouth. Go on. Take a wild guess. Well, I don’t remember how many people turned to look at me but suffice it to say, ALL OF THEM. Usually there was one other sponsor there and often a seminarian who had joined us, and these would speak up, too. But I don’t think they were there that day and all eyes fell on little old me.
I sat there, knowing I had to say something. Praying to the Lord to show me what and how to say it. Not because I didn’t know what to say. But I had already over so many Sundays had to say so much already. Yet I knew I could not let this slide. I saw the way people were effected and I knew I had to do something about it. And, let me tell you, I got over being shy when I was in my early twenties. So I was not worrying about speaking up, I only wanted to do so in the right way, the best way. The way the Lord wanted me to speak up.
So I waited. It was time for break and I used that time to prepare myself. To pray. “Lord, tell me what You want me to say.”
Break ended and people wandered back into the room. Took their seats. And looked at me again. The deacon started to speak. I spoke, softly but firmly. “Before we get started, there’s something I want to say.” I know I saw him roll his eyes and his smile was tense but he let me go ahead. “There were some things said concerning evolution and an impression was given about what the Church teaches about it. And I’d like to be sure that everyone here understands exactly what the Church teaches about evolution and that is NOTHING. The Church does not teach evolution because she does not teach science, she teaches Christianity. Catholic Christianity.” The faith once handed to the apostles and then handed on by them to their successors and so down to our very day. That faith. The faith. The teachings of Christ, our Lord. Anything else and you are handing on another Gospel and as far as I know that there is frowned upon. I certainly frown upon it. And I frowned upon it in that classroom. Though I tried not to frown like St. Jerome or Moses hurling tablets of stone down the mountainside.
“The Church does speak about evolution because her children have asked her. And she has said that she sees no problem with evolution considered as change over time and sees that view as one that derives from observation using reason. How could she have a problem with that? Where she does have a problem, however, is with Darwin’s atheistic materialistic evolution which denies that there is a God or any need for a God. THAT is incompatible with the truth as known and taught by Catholicism and that she quite reasonably rejects. Just wanted to say that and get it out of the way before anyone got any wrong ideas.”
Now all this is important enough. But here is where it gets interesting. Here is where you see how important it is to speak up and defend the faith, though I do not mean pouncing on people. I just mean taking care to clear up misunderstandings and misrepresentations, especially in a setting like an RCIA class full of people who are actively, sometimes desperately, seeking TRUTH! Hoping that the Church has something to teach them on the subject and expecting a deacon leading the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults to have some sort of TRUTH TO OFFER those adults who have come seeking it!
During the break, and unknown to me, an entire family taking the class together (the boy a recent convert sponsoring both of his Protestant parents) had walked out of the classroom and out to the parking lot fully intending to leave. TO LEAVE and never come back. To never look to the Catholic Church again for any answers on any subject whatsoever because they had been told that the Church teaches evolution. They walked all the way to their car while I was praying back in the room for God to lead me to say what needed to be said because I knew, I KNEW it needed to be said and that I was going to have to be the one to say it.
But something (Someone?) stopped them. They decided to come back in and stay until this one last session was over and they would make their minds up then and there whether they would remain in the RCIA.
You see why it is important to know what you are doing? You see why you should USE THE CATECHISM and not for a doorstop in the living room or for a coaster on the end table? But USE THE CATECHISM AND TO TEACH FROM IT?
I know the deacon did not appreciate my speaking up. He spent most of his time telling these poor people lies about the Church and he spent an inordinate amount of time telling them that the Catholic Church was NO different from the Protestant church. What?! I could see on their faces: Why are we here then?!
After the class was over and my friend and I were going to Mass, that family stopped me. They told me about going out to the parking lot. About being upset. About feeling that they had been betrayed and had wasted their time. About feeling that the rug had been pulled out from under their feet. About deciding to leave and never return. About something making them stop. Deciding to come back in and finish that session and then they would make their decision. A decision that would effect the rest of their lives. And their eternity.
Can you imagine how I felt? I felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach, that’s how I felt. The awesome responsibility. The knowledge that not speaking up would have meant these good people never knowing, or not knowing until who knows how much later, what the truth was about what the Church really teaches or doesn’t teach at all. The thankfulness to God that I was there that day. The thankfulness to God for leading me to say what He wanted me to. The hoping I didn’t mangle it too badly because I know how weak I am and how not up to the task I am. The anger that this deacon took his awesome responsibility so lightly that, though he had taught the “RCIA” for years, he had NEVER ONCE bothered to LEARN the least little bit about the beautiful faith of the Church he claimed to represent.
This still makes me angry. I have shared these stories with several people in that parish now and with others in the diocese because I want it to change. I want someone to teach the people who come there asking someone to teach them, and to teach them the TRUTH. This matters. This can change someone’s life and that can change who knows how many other lives. Or it can ruin lives because someone is too arrogant and lazy and dare I say ignorant to take the trouble to open a paperback book that costs less than nine dollars (even less in ebook form) and learn what it says or even just to quote from it when asked a question.
Please, I beg you, if you don’t know the faith, look up the answer in the extensive index and quote the book. Just read from the book. Don’t offer your opinion, don’t ad lib! For the love of God, JUST READ THE BOOK!
That family went on to be received into the Church and so did my friend. But many people took that class and did not decide to be received. Some had taken that class with that same deacon as many as three or four times and still had not decided to be received. I’m sure it’s because they still have not had the faith presented to them. I was not able to overcome for them the years of mangled garbage they had learned. I’m not God, after all. I’m not even a good disciple. I’m still learning that part, the living part. But I do know what the Church teaches and I understand, I think, a lot about why she teaches it. And best of all, I practice what I preach: When I teach, I teach from the book.
Thanks for reading. God bless you.
Another version of my conversion story
Update, Feb 3, 2020: Decided to make this post a bit more presentable since it’s been getting views recently. It looks happier now. I’ve learned a thing or two about posting since 2012. (What’s that, Miss Lucy Dawg? Oh, really? Well, yeah, I guess I still do have to learn a thing or two. Smarty.)
I posted a brief version of my conversion story on the About Me page a while back. But during a conversation here on the blog someone (Hi, Lauretta!) asked me what drew me to Catholicism. I don’t know if she knew what she was letting herself in for, but I wrote a few paragraphs by way of reply and thought I’d share that reply in a post of its own (slightly edited because I can’t ever just copy/paste anything without editing it and because it’s a post now and not a reply). Bear in mind that even though this goes into more detail than the About Me page does, I’m still leaving out a lot. I didn’t go into all the various false paths and blind alleys and dead ends I wandered into along the way before I found Him Who is The Way, the Truth and the Life. So without further ado, here’s the story of my conversion, take two. (Hey, wake up, the post is about to begin!)Continue reading “Another version of my conversion story”
Why does the Year of Faith last 410 days instead of 365?
(A post for the Year of Faith) Several people have asked this question: Why does the Year of Faith last 410 days instead of 365?
Answer: Part of being Catholic is learning to think with the mind of the Church. She thinks liturgically about time, which differs from the civil (as in secular, not as in polite) measuring of time. The Church measures time from one liturgical or spiritually or historically important event (historically important to the Church, that is) to another, not a mere length of 365 days that carries no meaning beyond the amount of time it takes the earth to revolve once around the sun.
Looking further I found this quote at Catholic Culture.
“The opening and closing dates of the Year of Faith carry special significance. October 11, 2012, will mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, and the Vatican notes that the special year should be “a propitious occasion to make Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church more widely and deeply known.” November 24, 2013, will be the feast of Christ the King, and the CDF underlines the importance of using the year to encourage Catholics to share the precious belief in Christ as the redeemer of the mankind.”
The dates of liturgical celebrations, even the release of documents, generally correspond to a significant date on the Church calendar or in her history. Look at a few encyclicals and other publications and you’ll see what I mean. For example, here’s what you’ll find at the end of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, the Gospel of Life:
Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 25 March, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, in the year 1995, the seventeenth of my Pontificate.
Stayin’ Alive, Spiritually Alive, that is: Keeping The Precepts of the Church
(A post for the Year of Faith.) There are only five precepts of the Church and every Catholic should know them. Let’s take a look at them as found in the Catechism, second edition, Part 3, Section 1, Chapter 3, Article 3, starting with paragraph 2042, without the commentary, just the precepts. And notice that the subtitle of Article 3 is: The Church, Mother and Teacher. The Church is your Mother. She has something to say to you. Listen up!
- You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.
- You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
- You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
- You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.
- You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.
There. Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? Only five precepts and they’re brief, too. Blessedly. (Heh. A little Church humor. Very little. Ahem.)
Now why do you suppose the Church wants you to attend Mass on Sundays or to confess and receive the Eucharist at least once a year? Because, like any good mother, she just wants you to drop in once in a while so she can see your face before she forgets what you look like? Well, maybe. But mostly to keep you spiritually alive! Read these words in paragraph 2041 right before the list of precepts.
“The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor…”
You see, to keep alive spiritually you must attend Mass every Sunday, confess and receive the Eucharist at least once a year. (Notice that you can attend Mass without receiving. This is important. If you’re not in a state of grace, you should not even think about presenting yourself for Communion. But you still must attend Mass!) You must also observe the days of fasting and abstaining, and help provide for the needs of the Church. This is the bare minimum for your interior, spiritual self to stay alive. If you are not meeting this bare minimum in your life, you may be in danger of dying spiritually. And if all you do is the bare minimum, then you’ll be barely alive spiritually, too.
When someone says, “Oh, I’m not religious at all but I’m very spiritual,” I have to say, “Oh, really?” Because I know that person is probably not spiritual at all. Most of the people who say things like that to me only concern themselves with things of the world and the body and the body’s appetites. They don’t go to church, don’t see why they should; don’t mortify their appetites, again, they don’t see why they should; they don’t practice self-control; they don’t confess their sins and they don’t receive the Eucharist. And, of course, they don’t give anything to their church because they don’t even have a church. Because…they’re “spiritual, not religious!”
Oy ve! Tell me how they can be spiritual! What do they even mean when they say it? Do they mean they believe in spirits? What kind of spirits? Spirits of good or spirits of evil? Do they mean that they practice spiritualism? Play with Ouija boards? (And why does that word end in an “a” instead of an “i” or an “ie” or “ee” or something? I never hear anyone pronounce it “Wee-ja”, it’s always “Wee-jee” board.)
Oh, they’re very spiritual. So spiritual that they will go to almost any lengths to avoid suffering. Mortification? Why, they’re mortified at the thought of it! And not in a good way!
Christ said that He is the Vine and we are the branches. If we cut ourselves off from the Vine, we will shrivel and dry up. If we cut ourselves off from the Eucharist, we have no life in us. If we turn away from the ordinary means of grace in the sacraments, how do we expect to receive grace? If we don’t mortify our appetites, how do we expect to preserve or increase in grace? If we don’t confess our sins after sinning, how do we expect to get back into a state of grace so we can continue to grow and have a real and not imaginary spiritual life?
And that, I think, is all too often the problem: People imagine that they are spiritual and that they have a spiritual life when they don’t know the first thing about spirituality at all.
So stop imagining that you’re a very spiritual person and go to confession and get into a state of grace and get to Mass and and control your appetites and stay in the Vine and really be spiritual! Because your Momma says so. Momma Church, that is!
The full text of paragraphs on the precepts can be found online, paragraphs 2041 – 2043.
Vine passage from Gospel of John 15:5:
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
Always Room for Another Resource, Or Three
Recently I found three really interesting pages that I want to share with you: Catholic Cross Reference, Online Catholic Library and a page on the Church Fathers at the St Paul Center for Biblical Theology. I added the first two to the main Resource page because they cover so much ground it’s hard to categorize them any further without adding them to every page in that section (and the thought of doing that makes me break out in hives). I added the St Paul Center page to the new Church Fathers page which I added earlier today here on Catholic Heart and Mind. :)
- Catholic Cross Reference: Catholic Study Tools by Jeffrey Pinyan. This resource is developing into something marvelous. And hard to categorize since it already has a Catechism of the Catholic Church Search Engine, a Summa Theologiae Search Engine, a Church Fathers Search Engine, and there are plans for more in the works. Also see Read the Catechism in a Year, a project of Jeffrey Pinyan (CatechismAPI) and Matthew Warner (Flocknote).
- Online Catholic Library: Looks like a really long and really good list of links to a lot of really good Catholic material. Audio, articles, books, documents, theology, spirituality–Looks like if it’s Catholic, it’s on their list. :)
- Church Fathers resource page at the St Paul Center for Biblical Theology. This is the group founded by Dr. Scott Hahn (he’s the Founder, President and Chairman of the Board). From the SPCBT Mission Statement:
The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology is a non-profit research and educational institute that promotes life-transforming Scripture study in the Catholic tradition. The Center serves clergy and laity, students and scholars, with research and study tools — from books and publications to multimedia and on-line programming.
Our goal is to be a teacher of teachers. We want to raise up a new generation of priests who are fluent in the Bible and lay people who are biblically literate. For us, this means more than helping people to know their way around the Bible. It means equipping them to enter into the heart of the living Word of God and to be transformed and renewed by this encounter.
We read the Bible from the heart of the Church, in light of the Church’s Liturgy and living Tradition. In this way, we hope to help people experience the heart-to-heart encounter that Jesus’ disciples experienced on that first Easter night, when they knew Him in the breaking of the bread: “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us…while He opened to us the Scriptures?” (see Luke 24:13-37)
Catholic Every Moment and While I’m Voting Too
Note: This post was written back in 2012. A lot has happened since then but I think this still stands pretty much as is, so I’m not going to change it.
[Brief list of voting guides at the end of this post and on the new Vote page.] People have told me here at the blog, in emails, on forums, in conversations, that being Catholic has nothing to do with politics, has nothing to do with choosing a candidate, has nothing to do with any part of life except one hour on Sunday. Most of these people are not Catholic or they would realize many of us don’t go to Mass just that one hour on Sunday; many of us go during the week, too, and some go every day of their lives and always have. Even so, being Catholic is not just about what we do at Mass, no matter how many times a week we attend.
And voting as a Catholic is not merely a matter of prayer and reflection, but prayer and reflection on the teachings of the Church, listening to the priests and bishops giving guidance concerning the teachings of the Church, and doing our best to live as faithful Catholics abiding by the teachings of the Church. Yes, we have to follow our consciences. But first —FIRST–we have to FORM our consciences! And how do we form our consciences? By listening to our priests and bishops, the Chief Bishop, and studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the marvelous teaching documents written by the Popes (including but not limited to the last two Popes, the late Pope John Paul II and the current Pope Benedict XVI).
There is absolutely no excuse for any Catholic old enough to vote not to know his or her faith. You can read the Catechism of the Catholic Church (here or here or here) and/or study the Catechism and the documents written by the Popes and the documents of Vatican II, and much more, all on the web and all for free. The bishops of the USCCB have been trying to teach people for some time now and the “faithful” blithely ignore them and say they can follow their own consciences. Without forming them!
Yes, some bishops are less than stellar examples. So don’t follow their examples! But do as they say, the same way Jesus told the disciples to do what the Pharisees said do. But He told them not to do as the Pharisees did! And besides, a good many bishops are wonderful shepherds and I pray for them every day. They do not have an easy job. Shepherding Catholics is like herding cats. Everybody wants to be his own Pope! Well, there’s only one Pope and he’s in Rome!
So form your Catholic conscience and THEN follow it! Read Evangelium Vitae (the Gospel of Life) and Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life). Study them (study guides to Evangelium Vitae and Humanae Vitae). I’ve been told that the Church has yet to rule on abortion being a sin. Newsflash: The Church has taught that abortion is a grave sin since the time of the early Church, in the Didache (in chapter two, really the second paragraph)! And we know that taking it upon ourselves to take an innocent life is prohibited by the Ten Commandments.
So right there, before we go any further, we can see that if a candidate wants to do everything in his power to promote and support abortion and cram it down the throats of the people and refuses to do anything that would limit abortion, which is an intrinsic evil, which means it is always and everywhere a serious and grave sin, then, guess what? A Catholic may not vote for that candidate and say that he is following his Catholic conscience. Because he would be demonstrating that he does not, in fact, have a Catholic conscience!
We can vote for someone who does not share our idea of the intrinsic evil of abortion IF–IF IF IF–we have reason to believe that that person would act in such a way as to limit abortion more than another candidate would. And we do have just this case in our political landscape as I write these words. We must vote in such a way as to limit evil. If you vote for the candidate who has put into positions of authority numerous people formerly connected with the largest abortion provider in this country, then you are not voting to limit evil, you are voting in support of evil. You are voting against a Catholic conscience, which you would demonstrate by your action, by your vote.
This is a grave scandal and for the life of me I cannot understand anyone not understanding this issue or thinking that any issue at all could ever take precedence over LIFE! If you don’t have life, I ask you, then what, pray tell, do you have? Nothing! The economy doesn’t matter if we are happy to ignore the slaughter of millions to get that economy. And the economy certainly doesn’t matter to those who we slaughter! So stop saying that pro-life people are “one issue voters” and then proceeding to say that you are voting on the issue of the economy. Hello! Isn’t that being a “one issue voter”? Isn’t that what you just said we shouldn’t do, reduce our vote to a vote on just one issue? Well, at least, if I “reduce” my vote to “just one issue”, I “reduced” it to the ONE FOUNDATIONAL issue–LIFE ITSELF!
Yes, other matters matter. But Life is the one matter that matters most. Without it, the rest of the issues are empty talk and chatter.
Voting as a Catholic: Live Your Faith, Vote Your Faith!
These links are also on the new Vote page added tonight. I’ll add more as I find them.
- USCCB Faithful Citizenship
- Voting Guide App: Confraternity of Catholic Clergy
- CatholicVote App: CatholicVote.
- EWTN, Brief Catechism
- Catholicity, Brief Guide
- Catholic Answers, Vote Your Faith
- CatholicVote Guide: Download this Candidate Comparison as a printable flyer in Black & White, Color, or in Spanish.
- Priests for life: Political Responsibility. Scroll down the page for several guides and comparisons between candidates and platforms and guides on issues.
- Vote Pro-Life Coalition: Downloadable flyers, guides, list of links to websites of many organizations in the coalition.
To Help You Form Your Catholic Conscience:
- Read Evangelium Vitae (the Gospel of Life).
- Read Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life).
- Study guide for Evangelium Vitae.
- Study guide for Humanae Vitae).
- Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church here or here or here and study the Catechism.
- Read documents written by the Popes and the documents of Vatican II.
A Photo of my Catechism Crammed Full of Bookmarks
I’ve been reading the catechism as part of the Year of Faith. Of course, I’ve also been reading the catechism since it was released in English when I was working at a Catholic bookstore…when I was still a Buddhist! :O Seriously, I love this little book. I take it with me everywhere. It’s either in my car or in my bag or in my hands. And when I’m working on something else, I often cast longing looks at it until I can get back to studying it. The photo below shows my much-used and much-loved paperback copy after (yes, after) I cleaned out a bunch of old bookmarks to make room for new ones during this new year of study.
Note, October 31, 2020: Since the Year of Faith ended years ago most of the links I had at the end of this post are no longer active, so I deleted the entire paragraph. See the Resources section for up-to-date materials. And I’m planning a re-vamp of that whole section, too. In the planning and gathering information stage now.
The Year of Faith, Journeying Toward God in the Barque of Peter
I don't know about you, but I try to be a good Christian, a devout Catholic. I try to practice my faith, to do what I am supposed to do, to love my Lord and my fellow man. I try. Well… Okay, sometimes I try. And sometimes I don't try at all. I just act like I don't even know anything about Christianity and I charge ahead like a water buffalo–wait, do water buffalo charge? Oh, you know what I mean. Don't act like you don't. You go to confession and Mass (if you're a Catholic, and if you're not, then you pray or give testimony and go to your community's worship service or whatever your community calls it or does) and you resolve to do better, to remember yourself and your commitment to the Lord, to change, to allow Him to change you, to rely less on your stubborn self and more on Him. And yet you do the same thing, time after time, the same thing you did last time and the time before that, and the same thing you have been confessing since you went to your first confession, no matter how many years ago that was. And you're still doing the same thing! Oh, maybe you catch yourself now and then, but for the most part you are still losing your temper the way you always have and about the same things and at the same people.
ARGH! What's a (supposed) disciple to do?!
Well, I'll tell you what this wannabe disciple is going to do. The same thing I have been doing. The same thing I will keep doing and having to do. I will pick myself up off the floor again and go to confession and go to adoration and tell the Lord that I am sorry and ask Him to forgive me and ask Him to help me. Again. And, yes, I have already asked Him that, I know I don't have to wait until I go to confession and I don't wait until I go to confession to talk to the Lord. We talk a lot. Well, mostly I talk and He tries to get a word in edgewise and sometimes I shut up and let Him. Sometimes He tells me the most beautiful things. And sometimes I even hear what He says. Yep, sometimes I actually listen.
All of which leads to the heart of my post: the Year of Faith which our Holy Father announced a while back and which began on October 11 2012. Pope Benedict has asked all the faithful to study anew the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the documents of the Second Vatican Council, so that we may deepen our knowledge of our faith and of our Church and of our Lord. So that we may deepen our love for Him Who is Love. And how else can our love for God grow if our knowledge of Him does not also grow? And how can our knowledge of Him grow if we do not make an effort to know the Truth He has revealed to us? And how can we know the Truth He has revealed to us if we do not trouble ourselves to listen to His voice in the teachings and liturgy of the Church He Himself gave us?
We are all of us embarking on a journey, setting out into the deep. The Lord will guide us on our way, the Lord Himself Who is the Way and the Truth and the Life. He is the only Truth that is worth knowing. May the Lord richly bless you and yours during this Year of Faith and may His peace be upon you forever and ever. Amen.
AND it came to pass, that when the multitudes pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Genesareth, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And going into one of the ships that was Simon's, he desired him to draw back a little from the land. And sitting he taught the multitudes out of the ship. Now when he had ceased to speak, he said to Simon: Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said to him: Master, we have labored all the night, and have taken nothing: but at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes, and their net broke. And they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking. Which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was wholly astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken. And so were also James and John the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon's partners. And Jesus saith to Simon: Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things, they followed him. — Luke 5:1-11, Douay-Rheims translation.
Learn more: Read more about the Year of Faith at the official website or at the USCCB or at EWTN and many other places too numerous to list. Read Porta Fidei (the Door of Faith) or the transcript of the Homily at the Opening Mass of the Year of Faith, both by Pope Benedict. Other resources include a Catholic Bible study guide by Fr. Mitch Pacwa (Kindle version or paperback) and daily brief readings in the Catechism delivered to your email inbox and also available online. This is truly a wonderful resource and I have enjoyed my mornings with the Catechism very much since this program began on Oct 11. We're not far along yet and you have plenty of time to join in. Please do! You can join in the discussion on the site and learn a lot that way and share what you know, too. You can also find the entire set of sixteen documents of the Second Vatican Council online at EWTN.
Using the Catechism
When I sponsored a friend in the RCIA (1) last year, I accompanied her to all but one of the classes. We dutifully carried Bibles, Catechisms, notebooks, and other materials with us…until we realized that the instructor wasn’t referring to materials, didn’t expect us to, and generally displayed an amazing lack of familiarity with (or understanding of) the teachings of the Church. We had stopped bringing books with us, but after a few incidents we began bringing our book bags back. The most important book in our bags was the Catechism. I cannot stress this enough: if you don’t have a good grounding in the faith, please refer to the Catechism to answer enquirers. If you do have a good grounding in the faith, please refer to the Catechism to answer enquirers. Then maybe you won’t tell someone that “the Church teaches evolution” or that the Gospel of Life is “just an encyclical”. Oy.Continue reading “Using the Catechism”