Friday, August 8, 2014

Working for the Common Good

Catholics confess two sins: they missed Sunday Mass, and the  sins that they can't remember. There is also the not infrequent: "I haven't any sins." With these words, a priest begins his article in a  bulletin for priests. He gives part of the blame to the clergy and their failure to instruct properly. The old Korean catechism had 320 questions and answers that had to be memorized before baptism. This has all disappeared from the  teaching required for baptism, and the writer laments the loss. 

The period for the catechumenate in many cases, fortunately is at least  six months but for the spouses of the baptized, can be less than two months. The period of the catechumenate besides the period of  teaching is also a time to become acquainted with the new faith life and community. The teaching before baptism is important and needs to be stressed.

Pope John Paul II wrote in his Apostolic Constitution Deposit of Faith: "A catechism should faithfully and systematically present the teaching of Sacred Scripture, the living tradition of the Church and the authentic Magisterium, as well as the spiritual heritage of the Fathers and the Church's saints, to allow for a better knowledge of the Christian mystery and for enlivening the faith of the People of God. It should take into account the doctrinal statements which down the centuries the Holy Spirit has intimated to his Church. It should also help illumine with the light of faith the new situations and problems which had not yet emerged in the past. The catechism will thus contain the new and the old (cf. Mt 13:52), because the faith is always the same yet the source of every new light."

In the Joy of the Gospel,  Pope Francis also makes very clear that a Christian is always concerned for the common good. Our light is not only to shine within the community of faith but in the world in which we live. 

The priest feels that our Catholics are primarily interested in peace of mind and blessings, and with little concern for the way society is going or interested in bringing about the 'Will of God' in our world. At the end of Mass when the parishioners  are told to go and make known the good news he wonders whether they know what they are expected to do.

There was a time he says that what was heard was to:  "Offer up your sufferings in  this life and in the next life, you will receive your consolation." The result of this kind of thinking allowed people like Karl Marx to say that 'religion was the opium of the people', and many left the Church. This kind of thinking came to an end with Leo 13th and was given a definitive blow with Joy of the Gospel. There were those who even said that the pope was a communist? Is there need for any more words? The writer wants the readers to consider the possibility that they do not have the right understanding of what it is to be a Catholic.