Monday, December 10, 2012

The Year of Faith Catechism Challenge




Exactly 61 days ago, I began this Year of Faith challenge to read the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church in a year. I receive daily emails with a manageable portion of the CCC included, which I excitedly read first thing when I wake up every morning and then I spend the rest of my day thinking about the beauty of my Catholic faith. Okay, not really. Most days I force myself to cut out some time to read it: half the time I think “that is nice” and half the time I have no idea what it says and then I accidentally, subconsciously on purpose hit delete instead of focusing more on improving my understanding of my faith. It is definitely a challenge for me.


This morning I sat down to read the emails from days 56-61. I was a bit behind, and all the talk of the Trinity was a little daunting, but what I read today really put me into a contemplative mood, and I truly have been thinking about it all day. I decided to share two portions that renewed my determination to not fall behind in my readings as Christmas approaches.


A portion from Day 56:


369 Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. "Being man" or "being woman" is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator. Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity "in the image of God". In their "being-man" and "being-woman", they reflect the Creator's wisdom and goodness.

370 In no way is God in man's image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes. But the respective "perfections" of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother and those of a father and husband.
370 In no way is God in man's image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes. But the respective "perfections" of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother and those of a father and husband.






This is rather profound from where I sit. In college, I jumped onto the wagon and read a few Scott Hahn books. His book “First Comes Love” made me jump right back off the wagon. Thinking of the Trinity as mother, father and son in the most literal sense seems borderline heretical to me. While the mysteries of our faith are just that, and no human has a full understanding, this comparison seemed empty. Fast forward to this morning and reading CCC 369-70 and I am in awe of realizing what I already knew: we are all made in his image and we all reflect back that image. Our uniqueness as individuals or marrieds, men and women… all of these variations reflect back merely a sliver of our Creator’s image. I keep re-reading this passage and there is just so much comfort and beauty in this thought that it makes me want to drive around until I find an Adoration chapel and read it again.


The second passage is from Day 61. The entirety of this section is CCC 396-406, so I will just pull a few excerpts:


397 Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God's command. This is what man's first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.
398 In that sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good. Constituted in a state of holiness, man was destined to be fully "divinized" by God in glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to "be like God", but "without God, before God, and not in accordance with God".


And


401 After that first sin, the world is virtually inundated by sin. There is Cain's murder of his brother Abel and the universal corruption which follows in the wake of sin. Likewise, sin frequently manifests itself in the history of Israel, especially as infidelity to the God of the Covenant and as transgression of the Law of Moses. And even after Christ's atonement, sin raises its head in countless ways among Christians. Scripture and the Church's Tradition continually recall the presence and universality of sin in man's history:






What is particularly striking to me about these excerpts is the simplicity to which our sin can be whittled and how quickly it spins out of control. CCC 386 states: ”Sin is present in human history; any attempt to ignore it or to give this dark reality or other names would be futile.” For me this is hauntingly accurate. Sin is sin is sin. We can call it weakness or vice, but the reality of sin is the devastating simplicity of it all: we choose to trust ourselves instead of God. This selfish behavior quickly resulted in violence, even murder. I see this portion of the CCC as a superb reflection of exactly how devastating sin is for us mere mortals. When we turn away from God and choose our own will over his, our demise is quick and filled with pain.


You can probably pick a search engine and type in “Catechism Reflections” and come up with thousands of hits, but these particular passages helped to remind me how impressive that gigantic catechism is. I am going to keep on trudging through the daily readings. Challenge yourself to pick a few sections during the Year of Faith.

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