In considering the following sets of initials, GPS and CCC, I dare say that most Catholics can recognize and expand more on the first set than on the second. Each set has one thing in common; both guide us to a desired destination.
GPS stands for Global Positioning System. This guidance system is found in most transportation today. This technology replaces the former road map which one could obtain at an AAA outlet or gas station. When one keys in the start and end addresses before beginning one’s journey, a command voice will inform the traveler when and where to make turns along the way to keep the traveler on course, ensuring arrival at the designated destination. If the traveler decides to ignore the voice instructions and alter the route, obviously, he then will not be successful in achieving his goal.
CCC stands for Catechism of the Catholic Church. It, too, is a road map. But it directs any who use it faithfully to a destination not found anywhere on Earth; it is found in Heaven. Specifically, the place that has been prepared for each of us. When we veer off course in the conduct of our lives, the CCC can bring us back to that road less traveled which leads to the narrow gate. The main goal and purpose of the Church is to deliver souls to Heaven. The CCC is the document that provides one wishing to be a good and faithful Catholic all that is necessary to do just that.
There once existed a clear identity of Catholicism. Over the last five decades a turn around has occurred in the Church through infiltration of the worldly that has sown doubt toward the doctrine among the faithful who can easily acquiesce to an aberration of what is thought to be Catholic. We profess in communal prayer to be One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Yet through eye-witness experience and research, I have found this to be sadly not always so. This crisis of identity cannot be attributed to the failings of God’s will, for He is infallible. But only through man’s failure in the proper use of free will has the conveyance of the Church’s divine mandate, which was consummated on the cross by Our Lord’s sacrifice, been impaired. This disjointed present ecclesial state must be returned to fundamental unity reflecting the order which is in keeping with God’s nature.
Holy Mother Church throughout history has often been in need of repair. Not in the natural sense but in the supernatural sense. Jesus said: “Scandals you will always have, but woe to them who cause them.” We are, beyond question, being pulled in different directions by opposing factions in the Church. Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church, but He did not say that Satan would not try. Whenever there is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, be assured that the diabolic will put forth a strong effort. Through the poison of politics Satan has his foot firmly wedged in the door of the Church. We Catholics find ourselves not in solidarity in our understanding nor in execution of our faith, which can be attributed to Satan’s influence. Rather than being faithful followers of our Founder’s divine objective truths, we often persist in a subjective worldly attitude. And no one is immune to such influence, if not at the ready; neither laity nor the custodians of the Church. How then can newcomers or returnees to the Church find refuge from a disordered world if they find in the Church not what they seek, but rather more of the same?
So, then, if we may not be legitimate in the practice of our faith, how then do we become so? I have been raised in the Catholic faith since my birth. I was Baptized and received my First Communion according to Church custom. I was prepared for Confirmation through classes taught with use of the Baltimore Catechism; which will somewhat date me. While making a life, as so many of us, my days were filled in pursuing a career and commitment to family and friends. Sadly, the time given to accurately practicing my faith was minimal; Church on weekends, receiving Communion and infrequent confession. I never realized how little I knew about my faith, myself, and my relationship with God through Jesus, until I picked up a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Catholic means universal and comprehensive. Neither was I in both my understanding and practice. The Catechism can be a bit daunting when first held in the hand. It is about 900 pages long. But one does not have to read it in one sitting. I recommend it as the guide, as referenced above; since it is truly a road map for Catholics who have wandered. Like me, there are many who are ignorant of what it means to be Catholic. If I have a question regarding a particular issue, it is easy to locate the section in the Catechism and the Church’s position held on that issue which all Catholics should follow. The truth, love, justice and mercy that it encompasses enlightens, strengthens and comforts. The beauty of the Catechism is that it is like a three-legged stool. It is always in balance. John Paul the Great verifies this balance when he wrote: “The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a statement of the Church’s faith and doctrine, attested to or illuminated by Sacred Scripture, Apostolic Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium; making it a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion.” Any document having affixed to it the name of Pope John Paul II (now John Paul the Great) can be trusted. We as Catholics can receive so much more of God’s grace which our faith so abundantly offers by making use of this wonderful Holy document.
Yet we do, at times, stray by succumbing to the ways of the world that have blurred our view and understanding of our faith. Through the Catechism, the truth that sustains the Church as Christ intended when He appointed Peter Her first pope is again made clear. We then can go about re-aligning ourselves with our faith through thought, word, and deed. When I now attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass it is not out of some apathetic obligatory routine, but, rather, a free act of reverent enthusiastic celebration. Because there at the center of the Mass is all that is needed and desired for the fulfilled life; the Holy Eucharist. By living the Catechism we live a balanced complete Catholic Faith. And through our visible conviction as one unified faithful Church of Christ, it will be evident to all, exactly who we are.
The indifferent practicing Catholic cannot be considered Catholic. For if one is not all in, then one is not in at all. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the proper tool by which the misinformed and uncertain Catholic can be reintroduced to his faith and rekindle his relationship with God. To the misguided, what seems wrong with the Catholic Church is truly what is right with it. Christ’s purpose in sacrifice on the cross was not solely to increase the membership of the Church, but specifically to increase the number of souls going to heaven through the Church. To justly love God we must love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. The Catechism teaches that when one comes to love Christ, there are no longer two distinct persons but one. And that one is Christ, in which we must be totally immersed. For with Him, through Him and in Him is the elusive eternal joy we seek.