"...this book can be transformed from a silent instrument, like a valuable violin resting on a velvet cloth, into an instrument that sounds and rouses hearts." Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa 1st Advent Sermon to the Papal Household
So maybe you're one of those Catholics hipsters - hip young adult devoutly committed to Orthodoxy, sworn ally to the Pope, defender of Mother Church, reader of Chesterton and Percy, drinker of beer and wielder of apologetics.
Maybe you're not.
Either way, if you want to help spread the love of Christ, and fulfill Christ's not-so-optional Great Commission for all disciples (yes you too) then you have to spread the faith.
What parts of the faith?
THE ENTIRE CATHOLIC FAITH.
Yes that's right. And I mean Catholic as in the deposit of faith as guarded and upheld by the Catholic Church in Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium.Right now there is a vast misunderstanding in our society, and even among some well-intentioned or self-professed Catholics, about what the Church actually teaches.
"Someone, somewhere in the Church founded by Christ must be in a position to tell the faithful, "this is true, and that is false;" or "this is morally good, and that is morally bad." Otherwise, the very existence of Christianity is in danger and the survival of the Catholic Church in any given country or locality is in jeopardy.
In many dioceses of America, attendance at Sunday Mass is down to some twenty-five percent of the professed Catholics in a diocese. Some Church officials are scrambling for a solution and recommending the most bizarre solutions. It never seems to dawn on these "experts" that the heart of the problem is the massive uncertainty in millions of Catholic minds about what is unchangeable doctrine in faith and moral principles." Fr. John Hardon
If you are striving to be a Catholic and defend the faith, then you must speak from the heart of the Church. You must be in a confident ability to charitably inform, or even sometimes correct, misunderstandings about the Catholic faith.
I mean the entire faith because the Catholic faith is not one long dainty necklace with doctrines and dogmas and pretty beliefs hanging separately and disjointed from one another.No, the faith is always entire and whole because the faith is unified and organic.
Our faith is more like a wheel. The center of the wheel being Christ, and the doctrines and beliefs being the spokes all in relation and connected to Christ - "the love that never ends".
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. Catechism Paragraph 25
Hold the whining. Its not as hard as you would imagine.
"We now have a one-volume reservoir of Catholic truth and practice for everyone who wants to bring others to Christ, if they are not yet Christians; to solidify the faith of those who have been baptized; to defend Roman Catholicism in a world in which the Church has been abandoned by so many once-believing Catholics and is being betrayed even by some of her ecclesiastical leaders." Fr. John Hardon
That's right my beloved Papists, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism is our one-stop shop for evangelization.
The Catechism might sound like a less-than-spectacular remedy for the slings and arrows of our time, but that's because of our preconceived notions, not because the Catechism is anything less than a powerhouse for evangelization.
"This Catechism is of historic importance. Depending on how seriously we take it, the future of the Catholic Church will be shaped accordingly." says Fr. Hardon. He explains that the course of the Catholic Church will depend on whether or not we see the Catechism as an act of God. "He is providing us with the opportunity of helping to make the twenty-first century the most glorious since the coming of Christ, but on one condition: that we capitalize on the gift He is giving us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church."
Fr. John Hardon, in his article "Understanding the Catechism of the Catholic Church", proposed five ways to use the catechism to help Christ evangelize the masses and spread the liberating and life giving faith who is Jesus Christ.
Here are Fr. John Hardon's five suggestions for using the Catechism:
KNOW TRUST ADAPT LIVE SHARE
Below each are explained in Fr. John Hardon's own words...
Know the Catechism.
Our most fundamental duty is to know the Catechism. How do you come to know anything? By reading, by discussing, by hearing it explained by competent persons.
Speed reading of the Catechism would be self-defeating. If anything, the Catechism should be not only read but prayerfully meditated. Spend some time set aside for reflecting, in God's presence, what the Catechism teaches through more than 500 pages of print.
How much time people waste in reading fiction, or worse. Is it too much for Christ to expect us to spend a few hours a week in reading, alone or with others, what promises to be the food that feeds the soul on revealed truth?
Trust the Catechism.
Already, critics have appeared who discredit the Catechism on both sides of the spectrum.
• Some criticize it for being outmoded and out of touch with the times.
• Others criticize it for giving in to Modernism and therefore discredit what the Vicar of Christ is offering the believing faithful for their spiritual sustenance in a world that is dying out of hunger for the truth.
Pay no attention to these critics. To distrust the Catechism is to play into the hand of the devil, who fears nothing more than security of doctrine among the followers of Christ.
Adapt the Catechism.
The Catechism is not simple reading. But neither is it sophisticated and out-of-touch with the vocabulary of the people. In any case, the Catechism contains all the essentials for Catholic faith, morality, and divine worship.
In using the Catechism to teach others, adjust the language to the mentality of those you are teaching. Adapt the ideas, without watering them down. Accommodate what the Catechism says, to the mental and spiritual level of those with whom you are sharing God's truth.
Live the Catechism.
This is no pious platitude. Teaching the true faith is unlike any other form of pedagogy.
The purpose of teaching the Catholic faith is to enable those you are teaching to practice the virtues which Christ expects of His followers. Very well, but how do you enable those you teach to practice what they have learned? You don't! Only Christ can give them the grace they need to practice what they believe. So how do they get the grace they need? From Christ, of course. But through you, their teachers.
What are we saying? We are saying that God uses holy people as channels of His grace to others. In the measure of our own union with Him, He will communicate to those we teach the light and strength they need to live the Christian faith. God uses humble people to give others the gift of humility. He uses chaste people as conduits of His grace of chastity; patient people to inspire patience; prayerful people to make others prayerful.
In a word, if we live the Catechism, we become instruments of divine faith to everyone whose life we touch. This, we may say, is the law of spiritual generation. Sanctity is reproductive; holiness is procreative.
Share the Catechism.
One final point should be made: On the last day we shall be judged on our practice of charity. How we hope that when Christ appears, He will say to us, "Come, blessed of my Father, and possess the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; thirsty and you gave me to drink; naked and you clothed me, sick and in prison and you visited me."
What does this have to do with the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Everything! This masterpiece of sacred wisdom provides us with all the resources we need to meet the spiritual needs of America. But we must be convinced that these needs are desperate, and that we have at hand the means of saving the soul of our society.
"Lord Jesus, you have given us the Catechism of the Catholic Church to bring light to those who are walking in darkness and supernatural life to those who are sitting in the shadow of death. "Enlighten our minds with your revealed truth and inspire our hearts with your divine love — so that by our courageous witness to your Name here on earth we may bring countless souls with us to that heavenly Kingdom for which we were made. Amen."
**This is an exerpt from Fr. John Hardon's excellent article "Understanding the Catechism of the Catholic Church"