Know and Do

The Catechism is not intended to be a theological workbook. It’s intended, as we saw previously, for the bishops and for the creators of local catechetical materials. In short, it’s intended for the sake of helping them teach us. This results in a fourfold focus:

the baptismal profession of faith (the Creed), the sacraments of faith, the life of faith (the Commandments), and the prayer of the believer (the Lord’s Prayer). CCC §13.

There are things that every believer simply must believe: “To the Jews who believed in him Jesus said: If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples; you will come to know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32, NJB). So we’re not free to believe whatever the heck we want. If we want to be free, we must know the truth, and we come to know the truth by becoming His disciples. And it is exactly this that the Catechism is intended to advance: our growth as disciples of Jesus.

There are things which God does for us:

The second part of the Catechism explains how God’s salvation, accomplished once for all through Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is made present in the sacred actions of the Church’s liturgy … especially in the seven sacraments CCC §15.

One important thing to note here is that salvation is accomplished once for all through Christ and the Spirit. We do not save ourselves; God saves us. Those who claim that Catholics are legalists simply don’t know what they’re talking about.

There are also things that we must do. We must obey God:

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 (Section One), and through conduct that fulfills the twofold commandment of charity, specified in God’s Ten Commandments CCC §16.

Jesus does not say that we may live however we wish. “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15 NJB). Consequently the man who loves Jesus will obey Him. There’s just no other way. We do not wait for Him to make us obey Him, as though obedience is imposed upon us. We obey Him. Yes, we need His grace (as the Catechism says) in order to do this, but we must do it.

Lastly, we must pray.

The last part of the Catechism deals with the meaning and importance of prayer in the life of believers (Section One). It concludes with a brief commentary on the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer (Section Two), for indeed we find in these the sum of all the good things which we must hope for and which our heavenly Father wants to grant us. CCC §17.

There are things that Christians must know, and there are things that we must do, and we cannot neglect either of the two. We must know and we must do what God wants us to know and do.

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Posted in Catechism, Fides et Ratio, Veritatis Splendor

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