A little over 20 years ago, I was in the midst of a spiritual crisis: Disillusioned with my Protestant faith, I found myself being drawn to Catholicism. In order to understand it better, I devoured any book related to the Catholic faith. Some of the books I read were outdated, and others didn’t give a full picture of the beliefs of Catholicism. My Catholic friends made a noble effort to educate me, but I felt like I was drowning in resources.
I wished for a comprehensive, modern treatment of the Catholic faith, one that was scripturally sound and clearly stated the dogmatic beliefs of Catholicism. Although I eventually became Catholic without such a source, I still wanted something I could always reference when talking to others about Catholicism — something I could point to as a sure norm of our faith.
Then my wish was granted. In 1994, the English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was released, two years after the original Latin edition was published. I quickly purchased a copy and eagerly began to read it. It was everything I had hoped for: clearly written, seeped in Scripture and complete in its treatment of Catholic doctrines. This Catechism was to become my trusty guide in exploring my own faith as well as helping others to learn about Catholicism.
The Catechism was a gift to me, and a gift to the whole Church. It is a sure expression of the Catholic faith and an authentic fruit of the Second Vatican Council. On Oct. 11, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of the Latin edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This anniversary coincides with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. In celebration of these two anniversaries, Pope Benedict XVI has declared a Year of Faith, to run from Oct. 11 of this year through Nov. 24, 2013. The Year of Faith is “a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Savior of the world,” the pope wrote in Porta Fidei, his apostolic letter announcing the special year. The pontiff is urging every Catholic to re-examine his own personal faith in the light of the teachings of Jesus Christ as handed on to his Church today.
The Year of Faith is an opportunity to dig into the sources of the Catholic faith and to live the Faith out more fully. The era after Vatican II has been filled with confusion and contradictions. Yet there have been signs of hope and clarity. The Catechism proclaims to the modern world — in modern language —the truth of Catholicism, drawing on the rich treasury of Scripture and the writings of the Church Fathers. Unlike an interpretation of Vatican II that conforms to the world, which would not be authentic, the Catechism preaches the ancient Faith in language the modern world can understand, reaching into the world to pull it out of its muck and mire.
In this Year of Faith, let us each resolve to dive into the Catechism to know our faith more deeply and live it more fully. Then it will truly be a “Year of Faith.”
Eric Sammons writes from Florida. See his In Focus on the Year of Faith, Pages 9-12.