As adults, we often forget that learning our faith is a life-long process. Catholicism is a religion rich in tradition and complex doctrine. It is important that we continue to educate ourselves on the teachings of the Church by studying our Catechism.
There are multiple occasions when knowing the Catechism of the Catholic Church would come in handy. Some such situations are:
• Advising those who are new to the faith or still considering converting. At times we may find ourselves called upon to give advice and answer questions our friends and family have about Catholicism. For example, your best friend is new to the faith and she is interested in discussing the finer points of Catholicism with you. As a good Catholic you should know the Catechism and be able to answer questions your friend has.
• Answering questions about Catholic teachings. Though discussing religion can easily turn from a pleasant conversation to a heated debate, there are plenty of other times when two people succeed in keeping the dialog civil and respectful. For example, you have a friend who is Christian, but not Catholic. One day, your conversation turns from work to beliefs. Fortunately, your friend is simply curious about a few key points of the Church’s teachings. Knowing your Catechism, you easily answer his questions and even ask a few of your own. Knowledge and understanding can go a long way in bridging gaps.
• Life-long study of your faith. Even those who are born and raised Catholic need to continuously study the Catechism. Not just for the sake of defending their faith against others, but for themselves. Catholicism is a rich and complex religion, and there is no shame in wanting, or needing, to learn more about their faith. Rather, Catholics are strongly encouraged to continue studying the Catechism throughout their life. In doing so, they will reap the benefits of deepening their faith.
• Times when you are forced to defend your faith. Though most of society knows to avoid hot-button topics such as religion, you will occasionally find yourself discussing your religious views with those of another creed. It is not easy keeping a pleasant conversation from evolving into an angry, heated debate. If you know your Catechism, and are calm, as well as firm, in your stance, others may be less inclined to goad you into an argument. However, if you do enter into a religious debate, you will need to be confident in your Catholic faith and have a good understanding of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. After all, you cannot successfully defend that which you do not understand.
• Clarification on Sacraments and the Church teachings. Even those who have a decent understanding of the Church’s teachings need to reference the Catechism every once in awhile regarding the sacraments and Catholic doctrine. For example, you are uncertain whether a sin you committed was a mortal or venial sin. In looking through your Catechism, you will be reminded of what makes a sin mortal. Further reading will remind you that you cannot receive Communion if you have committed a mortal sin and not confessed it. Armed with this knowledge, you remember to go to confession before church so you can go to Communion.
As responsible Catholics, we are called upon to educate ourselves on our faith—not just for others, but also for ourselves.
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