By Paula Ruddy
At CCCR’s meeting with Archbishop John C. Nienstedt on January 20, the Archbishop mentioned that one of the valuable results of Vatican II was the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He didn’t elaborate.
At the word “catechism” a dark cloud enveloped my liberal soul. In a good faith effort to be open-minded here, I have to ask why I have that reaction.
I remember loving the Baltimore Catechism as a child in the 1940’s. It was a little blue book with questions and answers. The second question and answer I still love: “ Where is God? God is everywhere.” We memorized the questions and answers for catechism class at All Saints Parish in Lakeville, and we were called on, in fear and trembling, to answer questions at Confirmation. My mother and father could still spout the answers from their childhoods at St. Luke’s and St. Michael’s in St. Paul. There was open discussion on any and all questions, as I recall. In the hurly-burly of everyday life, the catechism questions and answers were tucked away on the hard drive of our minds for the most part, forming us somehow. They were articulated there if we needed them.
So why is an “adult” catechism such a problem to me now? I have a copy on my bookshelf. Can it be a comprehensive set of statements, most of which I value highly, without actually reducing Catholicism to a set of statements?
Is there a way to use the catechism to turn toward the world with the Gospel vision of the reign of God here and now, all of us evolving toward full union with God through conflict, suffering and joy, as in Jesus’ own life? Can the catechism support and enrich the Christian vision and help in the daily discernment of faithful living?
Help me out here. Am I the only one with a “catechism” attitude problem? What would the grown-up attitude be? If you use the catechism as a meditative reading, please tell us about it. Thanks.