Saturday, February 13, 2016

QUOTIDIAN APOLOGETICS--2:



Where do you begin when talking with a curious unbeliever or Protestant Christian about your Catholic Faith?

There are people who are open and searching for what The Church has provided since the commission of Christ.  There are other people who are curious about what they may think are the wacky traditions of The Church.  There are still other people who want to engage you in debate about the Catholic Church and the Protestant Movement. That is why we admonished you in this series introduction (see our February 2 post) to know your faith by knowing the Sacred Tradition, Sacred Authority and Sacred Scriptures that is referred to as the Deposit of Faith.  Rely on what has already been authoritatively recorded.  A caveat: people may bristle at the idea that you submit to the authority the Catholic Church and choose to accept what has been passed on through the Apostles and Church Fathers. Our advice, don't engage in the debate. Remember St. Bernadette's advice, "[Our] job is not to convince, it is to inform."   Point your friends to the Catechism of The Church. We have put  "discussions" to rest by advising that the Catechism be read cover to cover.  So, what will the Catechism reveal to your friends?  Let's take a gander at the Catechism's outline.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church


Some thoughts from us:
Article 2466 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, states that "In Jesus Christ, the whole of  God's truth has been manifest. 'Full of grace and truth,' he came as the 'Light of the World,' He is the Truth." As Catholic Christians, we have the Deposit of Faith defined for us in the Sacred Tradition, Sacred Authority and Sacred Scriptures of The Church.  The Catechism is the body of the revealed 
Truth in the Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Tradition that has been held through the ages and kept intact by the Sacred Authority of the Church. The Catechism is the authoritative and reliable resource for the Deposit of Faith.  
Your Protestant friends have the Mother Church to thank for the integrity of the parts of the doctrine the Protestant Movement took from her with it into the multifarious denominations that have come and gone since the early 1500's. 

We can confidently point nonbelievers and fellow believers to the Catechism for answers to their questions about what The Catholic Church has declared from the beginning and protected through the tides of history with her 22 ecumenical councils. The first in 48 A.D. referred to in the New Testament (see Galatians 2:4, 11; Acts 15), the most recent, referred to as Second Vatican Council in 1962-65. The purpose of nearly every council was to protect the Church from heresies that threatened Christianity. The Catechism has four sections:

The Profession of Faith: 
http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P8.HTM affirms Christian belief. By reading statements 144-1065 and exploring the footnotes, unbelievers and Protestants will find the foundation of our Christian Faith. 

The Celebration of the Christian Mystery:
http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P14.HTM explains the sacramental economy of The Christian Faith. This part of the Catechism is where Christians divide and unbelievers scratch their heads. Protestant Christians accept some of what The Catholic Church has held sacred from her beginning, Statements 1066-1690 expand upon the Sacraments of the Church. Most Protestants agree, to some degree, with the doctrinal statements on baptism and communion. It is the other parts of those doctrinal statements and the 5 remaining Sacraments that cause the confusion about, and rejection of The Catholic Faith. These doctrines have been developed and defined throughout history through the Sacred Authority present in The Magisterium of the Church. If the Sacred Authority of the Pope and The Magisterium are denied then all any of us can do is to intercede for our fellow Christians and pray for unity to be restored in The Church. In other words, cordially inform. The Holy Spirit convinces.

Life in Christ: 
http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P5D.HTM expands upon the truth that Christians are called to lead a life "worthy of the gospel of Christ." Statements 1691-2557 put forth how the Doctrine of Faith is lived out in our morality and virtue and deeds. No discerning follower of Christ would or should quibble with the Catechism of the Catholic Church's teachings on Life in Christ, yet there are those who do. The great Shema, "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD." is echoed in Christ's summation of our duty as the created toward Creator--"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." The Ten Commandments guide us through how we live our faith and thereby become children of God, partakers of the divine nature. Reading Part Three of the Catechism should cause all Christians to rise to the dignity of character that our Triune God ordained for us. The statements are a catechesis to enable us to reveal in all clarity the joy and the demands of the way of Christ. Frankly, weak catechesis in the Catholic Church and the Protestant Movement has eroded society's confidence in the Christian Faith. 

We quote here from statements 2549, 2550: "It remains for the holy people to struggle, with grace from on high, to obtain the good things God promises. In order to possess and contemplate God, Christ's faithful mortify their cravings and, with the grace of God, prevail over the seductions of pleasure and power. On this way of perfection, the Spirit and the Bride call whoever hears them to perfect communion with God." One of our many favorite quotes from St. Augustine completes Part Three of the Catechism: "There will true glory be, where no one will be praised by mistake or flattery; true honor will not be refused to the worthy, nor granted to the unworthy; likewise, no one unworthy will pretend to be worthy, where only those who are worthy will be admitted. There true peace will reign, where no one will experience opposition either from self or others. God himself will be virtue's reward; he gives virtue and has promised to give himself as the best and greatest reward that could exist...'I shall be their God and they will be my people...' This is also the meaning of the Apostle's words: 'So that God may be all in all.' God himself will be the goal of our desires; we shall contemplate him without end, love him without surfeit, praise him without weariness. This gift, this state, this act, like eternal life itself, will assuredly be common to all." 

Christian Prayer: 
http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P8Z.HTM The Catholic Church professes The Mystery of The Faith in the Apostles' Creed (Part One). It celebrates The Mystery of The Faith in the sacramental economy (Part Two--the part your Protestant friends may or may not want to understand and accept). Yet without the Truth recorded in Parts One and Two we are left to formulate with our own desires or protests what the Christian life looks like. Our Life in Christ (Part Three), is built upon the firm foundation of The Faith. It guides us through "the life of the faithful that is conformed to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God." Part Four enlarges our understanding on how the Mystery of Faith that we believe, is celebrated and lived before all men. We live it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. The totality of Christian prayer is life in Christ; therefore the universal call to prayer is unpacked in statements 2558-2865. It is more than a survey of the Our Father, it is a call to worship. It is a call to all Christians to pray through worship and worship by praying. It is no accident that The Mass is referred to as a prayer--our life in Christ depends on right worship. When understood this way Protestant Christians may begin to understand why the worship at a Catholic Mass looks and feels so different from what they are accustomed to. 

As we continue this series of blogs on quotidian apologetics we will address the sticky wickets that people allow to cloud their understanding and appreciation of The Catholic Church. We will systematically move our way through the Catechism and the Church's doctrines and dogmas (teachings) to discover what The Church actually believes about our Blessed Mother Mary, The Communion of Saints and The Sacraments of The Faith. 

Perhaps it has been awhile since you pondered the worship of the Mass.  We will ponder it with you by looking to Old Testament history, the Early Church, and the historical integrity of The Church.We will survey the devotional practices of Catholics that are often ridiculed by thoroughgoing Protestants and dismissed as superstitions by unbelievers.



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