So far, our readings from the Catechism have been from the prologue. They are bit daunting in that they are instructing the reader in the ways that the text references scriptures, patristic texts, writings of the saints, and all sorts of other things that one would have to read to come to full understanding of what the catechism says. Obviously, when one can barely find time to read a short excerpt from the catechism once a day, this isn't going to happen, but it must be better to do what we can than to do nothing.
We finished the prologue today, and I'm anxious to get into the meat of the text. These final sentences of the prologue really struck me.
The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.
We can see here an ideal, the failure of which explains so many of the difficulties and divisions that trouble the Church today. When I was being taught the Faith for twelve years in Catholic schools, I was really drilled in doctrine. I knew what the Church taught, and I knew what my responsibilities were. I'm sure that we talked about the love of God, but it wasn't a very comforting kind of love. I think the prime motivator in my faith was fear.
When I was a young adult, a new mother, I started attending a Charismatic prayer meeting and for the first time understood that God really did love me, and that it was a love that made a difference now. He wasn't just interested in making sure that I obeyed all the rules, but He wanted me to know Him and rest in that love. I look back on my years in the Charismatic Renewal now and I can see that there were many problems there, but I also know that there was much there that was good. I'm not sure exactly where the line between our enthusiasm and the Lord's work in us lies, but one thing that I absolutely know was real was this experience of God's love.
Because of my own experiences, I wanted to make sure that my children knew beyond a doubt that God loved them, and I tried to convey this to them in every way that I could. I figured that they would learn all the doctrinal stuff (which I knew was important) in school as I had. Well, about fifteen years down the road, I realized this wasn't happening, because about the only thing they were learning about their faith in school was that God loved them.
I used to be very angry about the lack of good catechesis in the Church after Vatican II, but I've come to realize that those responsible for this were just working from the same point of view that I was. They wanted children to know that there was, "...no other objective than to arrive at love," but they forgot that all the doctrine was another expression of this love. What we've seen in the past forty years is a false dichotomy between the importance of doctrinal teaching and the importance of teaching God's love and mercy, as though those were two different things. I love the above quote because of the way it integrates the two.
Well, when I sat down to write this, I thought that I was going to write about three paragraphs. I see that I was wrong. If the prologue of the catechism can stir up all this, I can't wait to see what comes from the actual text.