Monday, June 19, 2006
My Own Catechism
I have been thinking for some time of writing a catechism for my children. I know there are many out there already and maybe it is unadvisable to transform my own personal views into family dogma, but I intend to try anyway. My interest in writing a catechism is inspired by a desire to synthesize the best of the historic catechisms of Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Protestantism. Not in order to produce cheap ecumenicity in my children, but rather to incorporate the richness of the traditions in a way that reflects my own experience. Of course, the Catechism of the Catholic Church will remain in my family the ‘official’ catechism.
For example, I really like the language of the Heidelberg Catechism question 21:
What is true faith?
Answer: True faith is not only a certain knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in his word, but also an assured confidence, which the Holy Ghost works by the gospel in my heart; that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sin, everlasting righteousness and salvation, are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ's merits.
Since faith is here confused, in part, with the virtue of hope, I would rewrite it in my catechism to say:
What is faith?
Answer: Faith is a certain knowledge whereby I hold as true all that God has revealed in his Word.
What is hope?
Answer: An assured confidence, which the Holy Ghost works by the gospel in my heart; that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sin, everlasting righteousness and salvation, are freely given by God’s grace for the sake of Christ's merits.
I especially like the language of the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism:
What is the chief end of man?
Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
I have never heard a more succinct statement of the Thomistic notion of the extrinsic and intrinsic ends of human existence.