Tag Archives: Pope Benedict XVI

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

A good household will inevitably include within it an area for a good library, a book shelf, table books, or some combination of these. And in every single one of those homes the one indispensable ‘must-have’ book is a good, readable copy of the Bible, the very Word of God.

In every Catholic household, and in fact in any home that wishes to explore an even deeper study and understanding of the Bible and the teachings of the Church, there is one more book that is also important to own. That book is the official “Catechism of the Catholic Church“, which has now been available for more than a decade.

On September 8th, 1997, Pope John Paul II promulgated changes to the 2nd Official English Edition of the book in order that it might conform to changes made to the Latin version on that same date. In the end, what currently stands is intended to be a ‘universal catechism’, one to be used as a resource or reference point for all other such efforts within the Christian Church at large.

The modern Catholic Catechism is in John Paul II’s own words “a full, complete exposition of Catholic doctrine, enabling everyone to know what the Church professes, celebrates, lives, and prays in her daily life.”

In 1985, the Catholic Bishops recommended that the effort should be made, particularly with the many changes to Church practices in the decades since Vatican II, to explain more fully, clearly, and substantively the Church official teachings on the many and varied topics for which it is responsible.

The following year, John Paul II appointed an official ‘Commission of Cardinals and Bishops’ to study the matter and develop a compendium of Catholic doctrine. This commission was to be led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. Their results were packaged and sent out around the world in 1989 to all Bishops of the Church for their amendments and suggestions.

Over 24,000 such amendments were received, and all were studied closely and considered carefully resulting in numerous alterations to the volume originally circulated. By 1991 the commission was ready to present their official version to the Pope for his evaluation and approval. On June 25th, 1992, John Paul II gave his approval, and on December 8th made it official with an apostolic constitution.

The new Catechism was then first formally published in French in 1994, and subsequently translated into many languages. On August 15th, 1997, the Pope formally proclaimed the Latin version as definitive. This version contained a few changes from that first French-issued version, and thus an official ‘Second Edition’ was released in other languages that year, including the current English version.

Let’s cover what the Catechism is not. It is not at all like the Bible. It is not meant to be a history of existence or of the world. It can not be read cover-to-cover almost like a story. It in fact does not contain the Bible, nor any of it’s stories and teachings directly in God’s own words. It is not ‘readable’ for many youngsters, and would not be necessarily interesting for those looking to ‘read’ a book.

What the Catechism is intended to be is a resource, the definitive resource of the teaching of the Church relating to all matters of faith. It is particularly aimed at the Bishop’s, the Church’s most influential teachers of the faith, but it is also made available to the body of the Church faithful as a tool for appropriately guided individual education.

There is no way in the space of a short article to explain or describe every area that the Catechism covers. Suffice it to say that the Catechism refers to Holy Scripture, as well as the teachings and positions of the Church Fathers and Ecumenical Councils, themselves inspired by the Holy Spirit, to explore and explain all positions and beliefs of the Universal Church.

Among the important topics covered in the Catechism are ‘The Profession of Faith’, also known as the ‘Apostles Creed’, which has been in existence and utilized as a basic profession of faith in Jesus Christ since the early centuries of Church development after his death.

The ‘Celebration of the Christian Mystery’ is also covered here. This includes public worship in the Catholic Mass, as well as God’s active participation through Grace in the sacraments of Confirmation, Baptism/Christening, Holy Eucharist/Communion, Penance/Confession, the Anointing of the Sick/Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony/Marriage.

Christian Prayer is an important topic that is covered, which includes an exploration of the Lord’s Prayer, also known to many as the ‘Our Father’ prayer. First offered by Jesus Himself at his Sermon on the Mount, it is by far the most well-known and widely used Christian prayer in history. I personally learned to say this prayer in Latin as an act of faith and a New Year’s resolution a few years ago during a time of personal struggle, and do so now every night before going to sleep.

The Catechism also covers life in Christ, particularly by exploring the Ten Commandments. These most vital religious and moral rules were validated by Christ, and are accepted by well over half the population of the entire planet. Handed down by God Himself to Moses and subsequently to all of God’s people, these are God’s own basic precepts for mankind.

There is much falsehood and uninformed or ignorant commentary out in the world today regarding the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. If you are genuinely interested in learning the truth regarding Catholic doctrine, or are already a believer and simply wish a reference material with which to more deeply explore the Church teachings, the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” (Second Edition) is a must.

NOTE: this is a contuation of the ‘Sunday Sermon’ series presented here on many Sunday mornings. All articles in the series can be viewed by clicking on to that ‘label’ below the original article at http://www.mattveasey.com

AIDS: Serious problem requiring serious solution

In July of 2008, the World Health Organization in conjunction with the United Nations released a report which stated that approximately 33 million people worldwide were living with HIV/AIDS.

With a world population of over 6 billion people, that means the percentage of human beings with this illness is about .0055 of the total world population.

In other words, while we may be talking about a lot of people, we are not talking about a significant number. Better than 99% of the people on earth do not have this illness, and there is a reason for that.

The reason is that it is spread in its greatest numbers by far through irresponsible sexual practices, and the greatest number of those by far in the advanced world come through homosexual practices.

By far the highest numbers of AIDS cases in the world can be seen in sub-Saharan Africa, that area of Africa below the Sahara desert, where approximately 2/3 of all the cases on earth can be found. It is highly likely that this area of the world is where the AIDS virus first found its way into the human population.

There are serious problems in this part of the world largely attributable to poverty and a lack of education, which themselves are perpetuated by the autocratic and despotic governments.

At the individual and familial level the results are involving shortcomings in personal hygiene and the overall lack of cleanliness, combined with the social problems of acceptance of multiple sexual partners at any one time.

In short, AIDS came out of Africa and remains at its strongest there, and around the rest of the world it has spread largely due to irresponsible and deviant sexual practices. Anyone who tells you anything else is simply perpetrating a fraud on you.

Is it possible to get the AIDS virus from a bad blood transfusion or some freak exchange of bodily fluids? Sure, but that possibility is extremely low so as to not be nothing more than a smoke-screen when discussing the best ways to attack the spread of AIDS and to begin putting it into reverse.

This past week, Pope Benedict visited the African continent in a tremendously successful mission to his flock. Catholicism and an acceptance of Jesus Christ in general is growing on the Dark Continent, and the Pope went to personally deliver Christ’s message of love to these people knowing that Christianity can inspire hope there as it has the world over.

On the flight to Africa, the Pope was asked about the AIDS problem and specifically the Church’s position that condoms are not the answer. There are many around the world who scoff at this assertion, and who truly believe that condoms save lives. These people either do not understand the position of the Church on this matter, or do not care.

The Pope reiterated his position on the flight, saying that distributing condoms was “not the answer to the problem of AIDS“, and that instead the best strategy is the Church’s efforts to promote “sexual responsibility through abstinence and monogamy.” Kudos to the Holy Father for so succinctly expressing simple, basic truth.

The usual array of European nations and homosexual groups fired back at the Pope, but the truth is that the world needs to follow this simple, straightforward, moral message. A message that will, if followed, in fact work as a realistic solution.

Let’s try on this hypothetical, just for arguments sake. Every homosexual male on earth stops having sexual intercourse with a member of the same sex. Every human being on earth who is diagnosed with the AIDS virus stops having sex completely.

Finally, every human being on earth decides to commit to a normal, healthy, monogamist relationship for child-bearing and family-building purposes, if in fact they decide to have any sexual relationship at all.

Now pardon me if I haven’t run the numbers through the WHO computers, or past some expert from the U.N., or especially past the gay leadership, but my bet is that AIDS cases would eventually plummet to the point where the illness was almost a non-factor.

The simple fact is that the Pope is correct. The answer to AIDS is not in keeping people perpetuating the same old practices that helped spread the illness to begin with, but in educating them in the direction that God has set for them to a higher calling.

Far too many of us who are not involved in an AIDS-related lifestyle fall into habits or even just the occasional incident that is immoral. If we all simply would allow ourselves to understand the beauty of the true meaning of sex, its true importance, its sacred role in our lives, then not only would the world be a better place, but it would be a more AIDS-free place.

Sex was meant by God to take place in a loving and committed relationship between married persons for the purposes of procreating and sustaining a loving familial relationship between the couple. That is a lesson that it has taken me personally a long time and a few hard times to learn. But it is one that the entire world needs to learn in order to truly overcome the AIDS virus.

Someone once said that serious problems require serious solutions. The band aid of a condom is no solution at all. Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church’s message of abstinence and monogamy is just that serious solution that is needed.

Book Review: America’s Secular Challenge

At Christmastime we are supposed to be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, and the majority of Americans will be doing just that.

But there is a relatively small yet growing segment of our population that does not realize, or does not care, that it was the values taught by Him which formed the basis of our very national existence.

These ‘secularists’, ‘humanists’, ‘atheists’ and others want any references to Jesus Christ, God, or anything else religious kept out of the public sphere.

They certainly feel that displays of religion on public property should be considered not only inappropriate, but illegal, even during a specifically religious holiday time such as Christmas or Easter.

They especially and more vociferously fight against such displays or references when it comes to Christian religious holidays, knowing full well that most Americans self-identify as Christians.

They rail against the fact that America itself was founded on Judeo-Christian values, and feel that if they can knock off the big boy they essentially win victory over all organized religion. It is the challenge of normal, everyday, faithful, God-loving Americans to stand up against these groups and individuals.

That is the message of a new book by Herbert London titled “America’s Secular Challenge” from Encounter Books.

London is a noted writer of numerous books and articles in almost every major publication. He is also the President of the influential Hudson Institute, a non-partisan policy research organization ‘dedicated to innovative research and analysis that promotes global security, prosperity, and freedom.’

At just 97 pages, London’s effort is more of a booklet or lengthy essay, and yet there is nothing missing on an intellectual level.

He moves through all of the relevant topics involved in the issue of the secularists attacks on organized religion, especially Christianity, in a very readable and informative way over just six chapters: “Secularism: America’s New Religion”, “Truth as a Relative Concept”, “The Limitations of Science”, “Government’s Rational Largesse”, “Patriotism as a Moral Problem”, and “Tolerance, Discrimination, and Discernment.”

He has some specific messages for we Catholics, words that we have heard before but really need to take to heart: “Catholicism, despite many new converts, is culturally in retreat, not only as a religion, but as an authoritative voice of moral conviction.”

He goes on to quote Pope Benedict XVI as he spoke to one youthful audience:

“The great challenge of our time is secularism…The first necessity: that God becomes newly present in our lives.” 

He draws distinctions between such things as infamy and fame, and talks about how our current culture misuses those words and misidentifies individuals with those labels.

London weaves in references to the French Revolution, Vietnam, and the current struggle against Islamism in presenting his idea that in order to survive, America “must recognize and defend its religious heritage.”

An excellent book that won’t take up a lot of your time, but will contribute greatly to your understanding of the issues in and the problem of “America’s Secular Challenge.”

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