Day 3: What We Believe
(Part 1 Introduction with Jeff Cavins)
Say hello to Jeff Cavins!!
The Catechism has FOUR PILLARS!!
Can you guess what they are at this point?
Pillar 1: The Creed (What We Believe)
Oh wait, let’s open up in prayer!
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven, we give you praise and glory. Thank you for bringing us to Day 3. Thank you for bringing us to this place where we can learn more about you, where we can know your identity, and know our deepest identity as your beloved creation, as those who have been adopted by you in Baptism, and made into your sons and your daughters. Help us to know you as our Father. Help us to know you, God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and be drawn into your love. This day, we ask you to please bless this conversation. Bless Jeff, bless me, and please bless everyone who is listening to us today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen”
Ok so Pillar 1!!
First thing we need to do is zoom back and look at the BIG PICTURE
The beautiful thing about The Catechism is it presents our Faith in FOUR PILLARS
You may remember that great quote from Frank Sheed (NOPE!!! Who’s he??? 🤣)
“One of the problems with Catholicism is that kids go through from kindergarten all the way through high school and they got what? They got a big pile of Catholicism and they’re not quite sure what to do with it.”
“Hey, do you Catholics believe in such and such?”
“Well, it’s gotta be in there somewhere.”
Well, The Catechism BRILLIANTLY separates all of this stuff out so the we can understand our Faith
The separation into FOUR PILLARS is a teaching tool in and of itself
The Four Pillars are even COLOR CODED in the Ascension Catechism!!
Pillar 1: The Creed (What We Believe)
Pillar 2: The Sacraments (How We Worship)
Pillar 3: The Moral Life (How We Live)
Pillar 4: How We Pray
You could say what we believe is The Creed
The Creed is from Genesis all the way to Jesus and The Holy Spirit and The Church
The Creed is the PLAN OF GOD
THE PLAN OF SHEER GOODNESS IN MINIATURE!!
God is going to come looking for us
God is going to bring us into His Blessed Life
The very first paragraph says it all
We are destined for a PLAN, God’s Plan and He WANTS us in it
It’s not just a list of things we believe about God, revelation, or Faith
It’s that God wants to bring us into that Covenant relationship with Him
Almost every section of The Catechism, when it introduces a new article of Faith, it always goes back to God sharing this with us so that He can share HIMSELF WITH US
He doesn’t just reveal it so we know and can check that box
It’s because He wants to share His own Divine Life
He wants us to PARTICIPATE in that life
It makes what seems like an encyclopedia into something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
The Catechism is a teaching tool in itself, especially brought out by Pope Benedict XVI
The Catechism is MORE than knowledge
It is a RELATIONSHIP
The Creed talks about this quest for GOD
Our SEARCH for God, who is calling us
It talks about man’s capacity for God and how we can come to know something OF God
It brings everybody in on an equal playing field
It gives us THREE WAYS in which we can know something of God:
CREATION-the laws of the universe, gravity, the stars, etc.
The Human being and our own longing for God
BUT THEN WE HIT A WALL!!
We can know SOME THINGS
At some point, GOD has to act
That is the FOURTH way
The FOURTH WAY is what The Catechism is all about
“Look, we know you can know something of God through creation. And we know through the human person, yes you are smart and you can reason. BUT…you hit the end of the road.”
Have you ever seen the movie The Truman Show? The Truman Show Ending Scene (HD)
At some point, God speaks THROUGH His creation
At some point, God speaks TO MAN
God speaks to us as a Father to His children
He comes down to OUR level
He adjusts His language to OUR weakness
THAT is the beautiful thing about The Creed
The Ascension Catechism book divides What We Believe into DIVINE REVELATION and THE CREED
Divine Revelation begins with THE SEARCH
Through Divine Revelation, God pulls back the curtain and begins to REVEAL HIMSELF
As He reveals Himself, we come to know MORE of The Father
What’s He like?
What can we depend on?
It becomes very very EXCITING to know that He is actually REVEALING HIMSELF TO US
HE IS NOT HIDING!
He is saying, “Here I am!”
So are there any challenges in these beginning paragraphs as we start tomorrow?
You may come across words you have never heard before and think this is too much for you
Go along for the ride
Take as much in as you can
We’re not talking about how to put together a little plastic car
We are talking about the God of the Universe disclosing Himself but in a way that we can understand
BE PATIENT WITH IT!!
YOU WILL NOT GET EVERYTHING THE FIRST TIME!!
Listen with the heart of a SON
Listen with the heart of a DAUGHTER
Who wants to know more about THEIR FATHER!!
An EAGER HEART is important
You’re not just casually reading about this
You are giving yourself to it with the hopes that you can learn more about GOD
LEARN MORE ABOUT YOURSELF!!
The day’s readings may not answer the questions you have
We will get to those
Continue to let yourself be LED
Constantly listen to the words in the back of your mind
God wants to know YOU
God wants you to know HIM
What we want from God may not be what He wants FOR us in that moment
So TRUST EACH DAY
Even if you aren’t blown away by this teaching we just got
You are going to be stretched in Catechism in a Year
Prepare for your world to EXPAND
Prepare for your understanding of God to EXPAND
THIS IS SO MUCH BIGGER THAN YOU THOUGHT!!
GOD, YOU ARE SO MUCH BIGGER!!
THIS IS SO GREAT!!
WHAT A FAMILY!!
And now we have an anecdote from Jeff…something about a book
By the time we are done, we will find out that Our God is MUCH BIGGER
BE OPEN TO THAT!!
God reveals Himself in Sacred Scripture
He also reveals Himself in SACRED TRADITION
This may be new to some people
We are NOT people of The Book, although we love The Book
We are people of THE WORD and specifically THE LIVING WORD, JESUS
This revelation, which we call THE DEPOSIT OF FAITH that Jesus gave to the Apostles was given in WRITTEN SCRIPTURE and SACRED TRADITION
SACRED SCRIPTURE AND SACRED TRADITION
We want to be back in that time and hear what the disciples taught
WE GET TO!!!
We understand that God is revealing himself in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition
That was then…
How does it get to ME?
SO IMPORTANT AND CRITICAL!!
These early Disciples ordained BISHOPS who were trusted with the SAME DEPOSIT OF FAITH
NOT TO CHANGE IT
NOT TO ADD OR SUBTRACT
They were trusted to systematically and organically pass TRADITION on to the next generation
We are VERY CONFIDENT that we are hearing the teachings of Jesus that He gave to the Disciples
We are getting the collective input from GIANTS who also got it and gave it more nuance
LIFETIMES OF PEOPLE PRAYING WITH THIS
WRESTLING WITH IT
BEING GUIDED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
WE GET TO RECEIVE IT!!
The reality here is that Jesus Christ is FULLY GOD and FULLY MAN
DUH!! OF COURSE!!
BUT NOT BACK THEN!!
This was something that was WRESTLED with in the Early Church that every Christian today takes for granted
It took GIANTS
We are going to be sitting at the feet of GIANTS and listening to all these teachings
It’s similar to an orchestra
Hardly anybody knows the names of the people in the orchestra
They know who the conductor is!
There’s all kinds of people in THIS orchestra and the conductor is THE HOLY SPIRIT
THAT is why we are confident
After Apostolic Succession we get into what is our response to this Revelation that has been given to us?
The response is a BEAUTIFUL THING
This is an IMPORTANT POINT
God revealed Himself in Words and Deeds
Everyone of us can agree on that
So the RESPONSE to that revelation is in WORDS AND DEEDS
Words alone are not enough
It HAS to be WORDS AND DEEDS
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the Will of my Father in Heaven.”
God wants our HEART
God wants our YES
So we are learning about this REVELATION and prepare to RESPOND to God
The Church calls this THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH
It comes from Romans Ch 1
This will be important for Pillars 2-4
When we talk about the Obedience of Faith, we are not talking about the obedience of BELIEVISM
What is BELIEVISM?
It’s the thought that believing in Jesus is enough to be “saved”
We are talking about FAITH
When you look at FAITH from the Hebrew perspective, this concept is not mere believism
Pope Benedict XVI brings it out so well and it is divided into TWO MOVEMENTS
INTELLECTUAL ASSENT = I believe this to be true
PERSONAL ENTRUSTING OF YOURSELF TO THAT TRUTH
For example, if you believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mother of God, is an intercessor, is an advocate given to you then YAY!!
NOW ENTRUST YOURSELF
START ASKING HER TO INTERCEDE FOR YOU AND PRAY FOR YOU
Faith without works is DEAD
We have to respond by saying, “YES! I believe it, Lord. But now, I am going to ENTRUST MYSELF TO YOU.”
THAT is what Biblical Faith is!!
It will ALWAYS be that
As we move forward in The Creed, it will be VERY FAMILIAR to us Catholics
When we go to Mass and if we hear the Apostles’ Creed, it’s easy to read it
If we had to do it on our own, it can be more difficult
We believe…(I’m sure many of you have the Apostles’ Creed memorized 😉)
In the very beginning of The Catechism you can see The Creed broken down so well
It is broken down into three main areas and all the subpoints of what we believe
What’s funny is when we are at Mass we just recite it and minds can wander
Well, do you believe it?
The Creed is NOT a checklist
The reason we recite The Creed is because it is what we are ENTRUSTING OUR LIVES TO
If you entrust your life to The Creed, and every part of it, YOU ARE GOING TO LIVE DIFFERENTLY!!
The Creed can also be used to describe THE ONE WE TRUST
The Creed can also be used to describe THE ONE WE BELIEVE IN
The Creed can also be used to describe THE ONE THAT WE HAVE SURRENDERED OUR LIVES TO
Ok here’s an analogy from Jeff….something about a blonde Dean and Niagara Falls (I’m going to go make some orange pekoe tea right now…I’m 2 hours into writing these notes and I’m barely halfway done 🤪)
We can stand up and say we believe all these things
Do you ENTRUST yourself?
It is the ENTRUSTING OF YOURSELF that will make the BIGGEST DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE
You can believe every single thing we read in Catechism in a Year
Unless you ENTRUST YOURSELF TO GOD, your life will NOT LOOK DIFFERENT
This isn’t just about INFORMATION
This is about TRANSFORMATION
It’s about CONVERSION OF HEART
Not just getting to know the one who has created and redeemed us
Growing more deeply into RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM
There will be some things that we hear about and may not understand
Make a note of it and come back to it
Take as much in as you possibly can
In everything that you learn, ask yourself how you can ENTRUST YOURSELF
There’s a whole section in the FIRST PILLAR about the nature of Scripture
How we go about STUDYING SCRIPTURE
This should give people a real sense of joy and certitude
God is saying, “Come on in! I’ll give you some hints on how to do this.”
Paragraphs 112-114 The Church teaches us THREE THINGS that will ensure that you will not miss the mark in your study
Paragraph 112 says, “Be especially attentive to the content and unity of the WHOLE SCRIPTURE.”
In other words, when you are studying 2 Timothy, make sure you are taking into consideration The Gospel of Mark, Exodus, and YES EVEN LEVITICUS!!
The content and unity of Divine Revelation is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
You don’t want to take a text out of context
Paragraph 113 says, “Read the Scripture within ‘The living Tradition of the whole Church.’”
Why should we do that?
The TRUTH is The Bible is a TRADITION that comes from THE CHURCH!!!
The Church is the PILLAR AND SUPPORT OF TRUTH!!
It is THE CHURCH that said it is the INSPIRED WORD OF GOD!!
St. Augustine said, “I wouldn’t even know this is the Word of God if The Church had not told me.”
It is important to stay within the FULL TRADITION i.e. SACRED SCRIPTURE AND SACRED TRADITION
Paragraph 114 says, “Be attentive to the analogy of faith. By ‘analogy of faith’ we mean the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation.”
It gives us some simple guidelines here
Think of it as a big sandbox and The Catechism gives you the corners to stay within
But once you are inside, you can play around and dive deep
You can even use your IMAGINATION in many ways
It even gives you the recipe sometimes!!
Paragraphs 116-118 shows us HOW TO SQUEEZE ALL THE JUICE OUT OF THE ORANGE THAT IS THE WORD OF GOD
First look at the LITERAL SENSE i.e. what was the intention of the author?
Then we look at the SPIRITUAL SENSE which is divided into three SENSES
ALLEGORICAL SENSE-how does this relate to Christ?
MORAL SENSE-how does it relate to me and my life and conduct?
ANAGOGICAL SENSE-how does it relate to the future?
So we see that The Church is giving us some very simple instruction on going after this REVELATION and trying to understand it for ourselves
Then we will get into The Old Testament and The New Testament and Typologies!!
The Old Testament is REVEALED in the New and the New Testament is HIDDEN in the Old
There is this CONNECTION that is SO POWERFUL when we realize it EXISTS
We also have The Catechism at a Glance thanks to Ascension Press!!
We have a TIMELINE on the back, which somehow seems familiar to those of us who did The Bible in a Year!!
We have Scripture, The Creeds, Church Councils, etc.
A lot of what we say is TRUE comes out of wrestling with ERROR
There were heresies that came up that seemed like they could have been true
The Council of Nicea in 325 AD formulated that Jesus was FULLY GOD AND FULLY MAN
This was because some people believed that was not the case
A lot of what we believe is true in The Creed comes out of correcting heresies
Most of the councils were trying to settle a problem
For example, at The Council of Ephesus in 431 AD they declared that Mary was the THEOTOKOS aka the Mother of God
That argument was over the Divinity of Jesus
So they decided that Mary IS the Mother of God and that Jesus is God from the moment of His conception
FULLY GOD AND FULLY MAN
Jesus is NOT two people
He is ONE PERSON
HUMAN AND DIVINE
In the Council of Constantinople III in 680-681 AD they affirmed that Jesus has two wills, HUMAN AND DIVINE
This is not explicated in Scripture
Here is Jesus who is conforming His Will to the Father’s Will
Here is Jesus who experiences temptation in the wilderness just like we are
So The Church was able to say that since that was the case, Jesus would have not only a human nature and a divine nature, but a human will and a divine will
We never would have thought of that 🤔😉
Glad SOMEBODY thought of it!!🤯🤯
So on page 735 of the Ascension Catechism we have a TIMELINE OF ECCLESIASTICAL WRITERS
It goes from 2nd Century AD and the main Ecclesiastical writers in EACH CENTURY and where in The Catechism that they are cited
I’m not interested in baseball (but Andrew is!! 😉)
It’s a visual of the CONTINUITY OF THE FAITH from the BEGINNING all the way to NOW!!
This is part of the LIVING CHARACTER OF TRADITION!!
In The Creed, we make certain statements about The Church
We BELIEVE in the Holy Catholic Church
The Church is a COMMUNION WITH JESUS
Paragraph 787 says, “From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings.”
That line should open up in our minds and hearts an INCREDIBLE WORLD OF OPPORTUNITY
To know that Jesus is sharing EVERYTHING WITH US
You can look at His work and His mission in one of two ways
Well, he’s the Son of God
He’s the King of Kings
He is the Physician
He is the Counselor
He is the Healer
He is the One who suffered for the sins of the world
He is the One who died for the sins of the world
He is the One who rose from the dead
So what is our job?
We can either say we are a beneficiary of all that and receive it
Wait a minute…
He shared EVERYTHING with us
For Jesus to share Himself with US, The Church, in this FIRST PILLAR means that Satan was WRONG in the Garden of Eden when he LIED to Adam and Eve about God WITHHOLDING
God is not withholding ANYTHING
He is sharing EVERYTHING with us
Not only do we get Divine Revelation, we get DIVINE INVITATION to share in the DIVINE LIFE and the BLESSING OF GOD
This is BIG STAKES STUFF (It could also be BIG STEAKS STUFF and it would be just as good…AND yummy!! 😉🤣 Man oh MAN do I want a medium-rare bone-in ribeye right now!!!)
It’s important to have a Catechism book to follow along
In The Bible in a Year we never lost the story because we followed the Great Adventure Timeline
But with The Catechism, we may hit a new article
If we don’t see it in front of us, it may be a bit of a challenge
Yes, this is an invitation into the story of God’s life
If you get ANY Catechism it will help
Because then you get to look at it and SEE the section and are prepared
It roots it more deeply in our minds and hearts when we have a frame of reference that we can also SEE
At least once a week go back and open with Paragraph 1
Keep in mind that everything we read in Paragraph 1815 or 2705, etc ALL OF IT is for the aim of SHARING IN THE LIFE OF THE TRINITY
NOW AND FOREVER
It’s what we are DESTINED FOR
We are destined to live in the life of the Trinity
THIS IS THE PLAYBOOK
THIS IS A MAP that will guide you in a more sure way than ANY BOOK you can buy anywhere
This is the book that will give you the guide on HOW TO DO THIS
If you really want to share in the life of God and be with him forever, then guess what?
We got TWO BOOKS FOR YOU!!
The continuation and synopsis of the great riches and the inheritance that we have
So when you hold The Catechism in your hand you might as well call it YOUR INHERITANCE
On Day 1 we read the first 10 Paragraphs
Yesterday we read the conclusion to The Prologue
Paragraph 25: “The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope, or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.”
So this is the context we are given
The very first paragraph is a PLAN OF SHEER GOODNESS HERE IS GOD IN HIS LOVE
IT IS ALL MEANT TO LEAD US TO LOVE!!
Listen to the way the FIRST PILLAR ends
Every section has a little area that is highlighted called IN BRIEF
Paragraph 1060 says, “At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. Then the just will reign with Christ forever, glorified in body and soul, and the material universe itself will be transformed. God will then be ‘all in all’ (1 Cor 15:28), in eternal life.”
THAT SOUNDS GOO!!
WE ARE ALL FOR THAT!!
Good news at the BEGINNING
Good news at the END
If we are willing to stick with this, God is going to keep leading us
Not every day is going to blow our socks off
If we KEEP PRESSING PLAY, God will have something to say to us EVERY SINGLE TIME WE SHOW UP
Here’s one last thing from Jeff…
The Creed is the longest part of this journey
There is a reason that The Creed is first according to Pope Benedict XVI
Pillars 2, 3, and 4 all spring from this AMAZING story of Salvation History in WHAT WE BELIEVE
THE SACRAMENTS spring from WHAT WE BELIEVE
LIFE IN CHRIST springs from WHAT WE BELIEVE
PRAYER springs from WHAT WE BELIEVE
So consider this FIRST PILLAR as an ANCHOR
When you go to Mass, and you recite The Creed, make sure it’s not just Column 1 that you agree
Say to the Lord, “Help me to ENTRUST MYSELF!”
There can be a tendency to get discouraged
There was an early Church Father who described the action of The Holy Spirit
Sometimes, the Holy Spirit comes to us in a powerful way like at Pentecost
Sometimes, the Holy Spirit comes upon us like a gentle dew and it seeps into the ground
The Earth gets watered one way or another
Some days are going to be amazing…powerful storm
Some days are going to be cool….dew
KEEP SHOWING UP!!
KEEP PRESSING PLAY!!
KEEP BEING FAITHFUL!!
The Lord Himself is FAITHFUL!!
HE IS GOING TO DO SOMETHING THROUGH THIS!!
Keep praying for Fr. Mike
God is using him in a very unusual, but beautiful way
We’re not just listening to Fr. Mike
We are STANDING WITH FR. MIKE!!
Fr. Mike is praying for YOU
I cannot WAIT to see you tomorrow!!
"Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”