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July 11, 1998     Arkansas Catholic
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[ Ir " h ;ia ,i# OffC or# St, Otill' stir' ,, 0lie teat1, .,r ol July 11, 1997 Page 5 An educational section of ARKANSASr,9 CATHOLIC ;IC 1"1! Catechism of the Catholic Church By Barb Minczewski DIRECTOR OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION come to discover richer ways of imaging our God. The catechism gives us a definition of society as a "group of persons bound together organically by a principle of unity that goes beyond each one of them." (CC #1880) Society embodies past, present and prepares us as a people for the future. As human beings we have a natural ten- dency for socialization, a desire to work together to make this a better world on all levels of our lives. Each of us has the responsibility to share those gifts and talents given to us for the common good and the glory of God. For it is only through the sharing of all the gifts and talents can we truly become the people of God, accomplishing goals that openness to change hearts, minds and actions so that we will more deeply image our God. True conversion is in- side out; it begins in the heart and is reflected in the lives and actions of people. The new General Directory for Catechesis says that conversion is above all a conversion to Jesus Christ, a sincere decision to think like him, to judge like him and to live as he lived. Conversion happens when we respond to the grace of God, with a deeper awareness of the presence of GOd in our lives that calls us to a love of GOd and neighbor. The catechism states: "Charity is the greatest social commandment. It respects others and their rights. It requires the practice of justice, and it alone Groome uses Story with a capital S as a metaphor to encompass the whole faith tradition of our people however that is expressed or embodied. "The entire covenanted relationship with God with its particular roles and life styles, Scriptures, interpretations, pious prac- tices, sacraments, symbols, rituals, feast days, communal structures, artifacts, 'holy' places, etc. -- all embody, express or recreate some part of the history of that covenant. All such expressions Of faith tradition are part of bur Christian Story from which, by God's grace, we draw our life and experience God's saving deeds on our behalf." Groome states that there is litde more that a Chris- tian community (or an individual Christian) can do than authentically represent its Story. As theologian H. Richard Niebuhr explained, the Church has an "inability" to state what its meaning is "otherwise than by telling the story of its life." To retell the Story with our words and our lives is our responsibility as Catholic Christians. Others, especially our children, need to hear its life-giving message. When we tell our stories of faith we not only honor our God but we get in touch with the %ougenergy" of our faith. Returning to the story and learning to tell it in our own lives is an act of faith. Telling a story allows us to heart is the center of feeling, of our emotions, our tears and laughter. The action of the story is in the lower belly --- the gut --- the seat of compassion or pity -- where we feel most deeply, Experience the stdr 'with each part of us. If we have not lived inside the story, if the story has not touched us, it will not touch others. ,When we read the story of the cure rO( the man with the withered hand irr tile g pel of Mai-k, We can ask: What in my life has become withered and useless? Who is the scribe within me that fights against change? Who protects the rules and customs and authority of society even when it is unjust and fails to give life? When have you felt threatened by new ideas? Stories in both testaments of Scripture provide rich sources of meditation and possibilities for storytelling. Who is the Abraham in you? the Hagar? the Judith? the Mary? When we tell stories of faith we are being faithful to our tradition. We are honoring the one by whose name we are called. Remember that Jesus was a story- teller and the stories he tom gave life and hope to those who heard. It is a good example to follow. Jerre Roberts/s a profess/ram/sto td/er and re//g/ous edu- aaor ]tom Tmrkana. is the language of faith. All major religious have foundational stories that express beliefs, their creeds and their values. As Catho- We are heirs to a rich oral tradition found in our stories' handeff down fronl mouth to ear, by thousands of tongues. stories of Israel, the people experienced the and power of God. In the retelling of the sto- , they reexperienced both the event and the say- presence of GodTWhen the Jews celebrate the of Passover the StOry of their deliverance is told present tense: "We were slaves in Egypt...." Each the telling of the' story of Exodus recreates the in the lives of those who hear it. stories of Jesus of Nazareth were first told by who were part of this oral tradition. Stories followers as the fulfillment of Israel's a messiah. Their stories also revealed the of God. Stories of Jesus' birth, His ministry and reconciliation, His teaching, death and became for his followers stories about and decisive action of God in all of human In the telling and the listening to the stories the early Christians made connections with OWn life experiences that made clear to them ht he first chapter of the third book of the "Catechism will exceed our individual capacities and help us reach makes us capable of it. Charity inspires a life of self-giving. of the Catholic Church looked at the dignity of the the potential for which GOd created us, a dynamic human Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever Uman person; the second chapter deals with the hu- community of love, peace and joy. loses his life will preserve it.'" (CC #1889) ~an COmmunity Our vocation as humans is to show The catechism presents a section on the dangers of In order for a human society to be well ordered and r.~. the image "of God, who is Father, Son and Holy socialization by explaining the principle of subsidiarily, prosperous there is a need for authority, "the quality by lrtt; our God is a community of persons. The trini is According to this principle, "a community of a higher virtue of which persons or institutions make laws and give e most fundamental and essential teaching in the hi- order should not interfere in the internal life of a corn- orders and expect obedience. Authority is important for ~a~echy of the truth of faith." (CC #234) "Our vocation munity of a lower order, depriving the latter of its func- the common good of the whole community. Obedience : a personal form since each of us is called to enter tions, but rather should support it in case of need and calls for due honor be given to authority, and those in into the divine beatitude; it also concerns the human help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest authority respected. There can be a diversity of political coramunity as whole." (CC #1877) of society, always with a view to the common good." (CC regimes, as long as the common good is served. The first article in this section deals with the person #1883) Each person and creature is called to function Common good is explained as "the sum total of social SOciety, for if we are called to image our God, then according to its abilities and nature. Subsidiarily calls for conditions which allow people, either as groups or as e do this'when we form a community. Love of neigh- unity and harmony between all of creation, so that there individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more 0r is inse ar ov for God We develo our will be a true orderin of all of life For all creation has easily. (CC #1905) In an age of emphasis on individual- p able from ! e . p g v(tential as a oeoole and as individuals through our the God, who models harmony and unity in the trinity, ism, we need to take time to reflect on the three essential re tionships with others, through service to and with In order for this to be possible we are called to be in elements of common good. There are many situations in "mers and through an on going dialogue where wethe process of on-going conversion, a willingness and See Catechism 7 VUnderstandlng Our Church iStorytelling and Christian faith: His story is our story and history [" how God was present to them. The stories shed light on enter more deeply into it. Indeed, it demands that we tl Word on !il ~ II events and gave them meaning, do, if the story is to have any power in our lives or in ||J . _ iil Ill After these stories were written down, they became the lives of listeners. And God becomes present in the /| npture ,ma ill Ill associated with books, teachings and ideas. We some- telling. How do we begin to tell our stories and make || & cred Ill times think of our faith more in terms of doctrine and faith connections? We begin with the story. We read I[ Tradition !ii II dogmas than in the stories that give it life. As important slowly with prayer and reflection. III as they are, doctrines and dogmas are abstract ideas, Understanding its historical context may mean con- l[ _m_ :i!! Ill reflections on our stories of faith, suiting a commentary. After we have done our re- :ii [ Ill When we activate the power of the story of Jesus in search, we then live with the story, meditate upon it, m ] our lives, we discover surprising intersections between carry it with us, let it grow in us. We take the story /[ lerre Roberts l X ll I Ill my story, our story and His story. At these intersections, within and let it reverberate in our lives. Experience [ ill connections can take place. According to Thomasit in our heads, our hearts and our bellies. The head ] Groome, the chief characteristic of revelation is making stores the words, concepts and structures of the story. ~"'=mmmmmmmmmmmm~i!~ authentic connections. We think about the story in our brain space. The