Baltimore Catechism questions-Introduction

So, after I posted my blog entry with the link to “Letter to my Christian friends“, I got a private message from a dear friend who is Protestant.  She challenged me with several entries from the Baltimore Catechism that had been taught to her former Catholic family members with which she had an issue.

I would love the opportunity to address these on my blog, and am thrilled at the answered prayer in this challenge.  First off, I miss RCIA, and the learning about the Catholic faith in an organized, orderly fashion…I was wanting to go back and review some of this anyway, so that is the first answered prayer…even though I hadn’t thought to ask God about it, it was a desire in my heart….Secondly, I had hit a brick wall in my blogging.  I am not in a place where much is happening to report, and I was having trouble finding inspiration.  I prayed and asked God where He wanted to take this blog, and within a couple weeks, I got my answer.  So…I’ll address her concerns first, in the order that she gave them to me, and with her specific questions about them.  From looking at the format of the questions, I have a feeling I’ll continue on after with more of the Baltimore Catechism, because of its simple format.

The funny part of all of this, is I didn’t know what the Baltimore Catechism even was, lol.  After talking to a dear Catholic friend and reading up a bit, I have come to understand that it is a simplified version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, for the purpose of instructing children.  I’m guessing that the answers to the questions are expounded on in the big green book, which I will do for the purpose of clarifying the Church’s teaching on a matter, does that sound fair?

I’ll try to post one blog post per week on the Baltimore Catechism.  You’ll still see my other regular/irregular posts about family, recipes, and etc., but this will be an attempt to have regular content here.  I do hope you’ll join me.

BTW, The Baltimore Catechism is online, as is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, just in case you are interested and don’t have the books handy to reference yourself.  Also, this is a site that explains the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or RCIA.

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A Letter to my Christian Friends

This is a great blog post about the desire for Christian unity and the joy we have in being Catholic.  I could have written much of this as an answer to well meaning friends who are concerned for my decision to become Catholic.

Now, most Catholics are not judgmental about your Christian faith. We are all trying to get to the same goal—unity with Christ.

Please do not tell us we are wrong nor try to tell us just what we believe, ie: I promise, we do not worship the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In my experience, the main questions/concerns of my Protestant family and friends are not as much with what the Catholic Church actually teaches, as with what they are told that Catholics believe and do.  For instance:

I have not, do not, and will not worship Mary or any of the saints.

If the Catholic church teaches this, I missed that part in RCIA.

Please do not confuse veneration and honor for worship.

I absolutely do believe in the “communion of the saints” as taught by the Catholic Church, that as saints alive and worshiping before the throne (He is God of the living, not the dead, and to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, right?), they have not ceased in their prayers for us, (see Revelation chapters 5 and 8) and we can ask for their prayers as easily as I could ask you to pray for me.  I am well aware that I can approach God’s throne without others interceding for me, and I do enjoy a rich personal prayer life that way.  I also come to times in my personal life where I do not know how to pray, or I am having trouble finding the words to express my heart, or I cannot pray in faith, believing.  This is when I ask my friends to say a prayer for me, sometimes, they are able to find the words I need, or can put my thoughts into perspective and provide intercessory help for me.  Because I believe that the saints are alive in heaven, and there is no sin in heaven, I find great comfort in asking them to pray for me there.  They have a front row seat to God’s throne, and can pray with a clarity that I often find lacking.

The Catholic Church does not teach that we are saved by our good works.

Again…if it does, they didn’t cover that in RCIA, and in fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church expressly denies it:  “Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.458

619      “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3).

620      Our salvation flows from God’s initiative of love for us, because “he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins” (1 Jn 4:10). “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor 5:19).

621      Jesus freely offered himself for our salvation. Beforehand, during the Last Supper, he both symbolized this offering and made it really present: “This is my body which is given for you” (Lk 22:19).

622      The redemption won by Christ consists in this, that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28), that is, he “loved [his own] to the end” (Jn 13:1), so that they might be “ransomed from the futile ways inherited from [their] fathers”(1 Pet 1:18).

623      By his loving obedience to the Father, “unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8), Jesus fulfills the atoning mission (cf. Isa 53:10) of the suffering Servant, who will “make many righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities” (Isa 53:11; cf. Rom 5:19).

The Catholic Church does not discourage personal Bible study

This is probably the funniest thing I’ve heard yet.  I have grown so much in my personal Bible reading and devotion.  I just don’t have any other words for this outlandish claim.

Can I just make a suggestion.  Don’t take the word of someone who is not Catholic for what the Church teaches.  Go directly to the source.  You can find the Catechism of the Catholic Church online, you might find we are not as different in theology as you thought.

What I’d love to discuss instead of perceptions, are the real differences…things like apostolic authority, Holy Tradition, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the Sacraments, etc.

Edited to add a link that explains RCIA.

Great thoughts to go along with mine on suffering. Be blessed.

My kids are peaches!

They are.  I knew that, but it’s always fun when someone else, who is not related to me by blood (though I feel a deep connection with her in the Lord…a “kindred spirit” if you will) compliments me with such words.

See…I get to take a trip.  Not just ANY trip, I get to take a trip to see my adult children, one of whom I will not have seen for a little over a year, and two of whom I haven’t seen since we left Idaho in May of 2011.  Since that time, I have accumulated two more granddaughters (who I have only seen via Skype and fb), and will be present for the births of my next two “Grammy Rewards”, both boys this time.

My son and his wife, and my daughter and her husband have pooled their resources together to “give themselves the gift” of my presence for an entire month.  We are not in a place to afford this luxury for me at this time, and I am both humbled and overjoyed at the prospect.  I am waiting with anticipation to see the blessing that comes back on them for their generous spirits and love in action.

Facebook praises

Today I am thankful…oh so thankful for facebook!  I am looking back on the sweet pictures and videos that my children have posted of themselves and their children.  Twenty years ago, when I had little ones, it was expensive and much more difficult to keep in touch with long distance relations.  The cost of talking on the telephone was astronomical, and sending pictures to and from was much more expensive and time consuming than the ability we have now to send them electronically.

I am missing my kids, and wishing I could squeeze those Grandbabies, but since that’s not possible, I am thankful for the ability to watch them grow, and peek into their silly moments. 

No strings attached

Sometimes I think I have a handle on all the emotions that accompanied me when I was “there” in our desert times, and sometimes, a simple word spoken in due season can, and will unleash a torrent of tears with no warning.

I was visiting this morning with a dear friend regarding this blog post and a little later this one.  It brought to mind a time when we were shown true Christian love by people who did not see fit to judge our humble circumstances, who were not afraid to give generously, or help us out.  Not once did we hear accusations of being lazy, or good for nothing.  Not once were we subjected to a sermon on “if you don’t work, you don’t eat”, or criticized for not having a plan.  We were simply loved.  And that love was shown to us through the working out of a deep faith, into food, and financial assistance to get us where we were going.

And as we chatted about how this challenged us, how this is what we are called to be, and this is how we want to be;

Loving.

and giving.

Without fear.

Without judgment.

Just full of real charity, loving a person right where they are, without expectation, without embarrassment, without strings.

 

Knowing God’s will

He has shown you, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you; to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

How can we know what God wants us to do?  What is his will for our lives?  What pleases Him?  We can pray all day long and miss the answer completely, if we aren’t doing what we already know He has told us.  He’s not going to answer with a different answer than he’s already recorded in the answer book, His Word.

I don’t think it’s a mystery.  If we look at Micah 6:8, it seems very simple.  He’s already shown you what is good, and what He requires of you.

1. Do justly–do what is right…The Bible is full of instruction regarding “righteous” behavior.  A lot of it is instruction on how “not” to be, the “shalt nots” if you will.  Is it “right” to lie, steal, cheat, or murder?  How about gossip, slander, or abuse?  Of course not.  Don’t live that way.  Avoid even the appearance of evil.  Sex outside of marriage, gluttony, selfishness…all of these are “unjust”, they are ways of life that are not honest, fair, or right, according to God’s standard.  Living in them while we say we love God is a lie, we have become our own judge, and disregarded the Lawgiver for the sake of our own convenience.  In short, we make ourselves, our own limited understanding, and our will to be our “god”, which ultimately makes us idolaters.

2. Love mercy–Some synonyms for mercy are: blessing, charity, forbearance, forgiveness, kindness, tenderness and tolerance.  Of course, I love mercy, we all do…when it’s extended to us.  We need to embrace the opportunities of extending mercy to others.  God’s will is that because of our love of mercy, we become merciful to others…and I’m gonna go out on a limb here, and suggest that we start with our families.  We often hurt the ones we love the most with our unkindness, intolerance and neglect.  God wants us to love mercy, so we can extend His mercy to others through us.

3. Walk humbly with God–walk humbly?  Reminds me of the riddle:  If you think you have it, you probably don’t; if you have it, you probably won’t know it.  What is it?   A:  HumilityIt’s the opposite of pride/arrogance.  To walk humbly with God means putting aside all of what we think we know, and possess, and aspire to, in favor of hearing and knowing and doing what God says. It might involve sacrifice of something that we hold dear, or something from which we receive our sense of self-worth.  It might be a lifestyle, a job, or tightly held ideals and dreams that God requires us to turn over to Him.  For the rich young ruler, it was his material wealth…whatever it is, we can know we are doing His will if we are walking humbly with God.

I find when I’m feeling far from God, one of these is “off” in my world.  Either I’m being unfair, unmerciful, or proud.  When I’m looking for His will, or for guidance in decision-making, this is where I start.  I ask myself, “is this fair to those I love, is it an opportunity to extend mercy to others, what are my motivations in desiring this?”  If my main motivation is for God and His will in my life, I can expect these to line up.