When I think about all the reasons why I chose to become Catholic, there were a few unique reasons that are personal to me. Some, on the other hand, were doctrinal while others required a lot of discernment. Eventually, I ended up having a eureka moment and whatever issue that seemed off-putting suddenly made sense.
I read John 6 and saw the Eucharist.
I read Matthew 16 and saw the obvious reference to the papacy, a visible and authoritative Church.
I read why Tradition was important in an era when illiteracy and writing weren’t household skills people had.
When I look back, one of the prime reasons I appreciated Catholicism was the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).
Perhaps next to Sacred Scripture and Tradition, the Catechism (not divinely inspired like Tradition and Scripture) is an amazing collection of Tradition, teachings from Church Fathers, Magisterium, encyclicals, and saints that expound on the deposit of faith once for all delivered.
Really, no Catholic needs to be without a Catechism. If you have a Bible and a Catechism, you’re practically set on how to embrace the universal call to holiness. Moreover, you learn to appreciate the intellectual beauty of Catholicism. Within the pages of this Church document, one learns about the fine details of the Creed, Commandments, Sacraments, and Our Father prayer, and it really sets you on a path to a deeper knowledge about what Catholicism actually teaches. The finer details that make up all the major parts are thoroughly explained like no other resource I’ve encountered. I liked that a lot when I first began to appreciate what exactly I was reading.
I don’t think any Christian would deny how important truth is. Think back to what Jesus said in regards to the Holy Spirit preserving truth in Mat 16:18, “the gates of Hell will not prevail” against the Church. That’s very important because the deposit of faith needs to be entrusted securely through the centuries. Without consistent authentic doctrine, the Holy Church is led by an error which is problematic because authentic Christianity would be lost and compromised. Therefore, in the Catechism the guarded faith is made available to all.
I remember when I received my first Catechism. About 3.5 years ago, my girlfriend (now wife) was riding to a local movie theater. With time to spare, we decided to shop at Goodwill for books.
Back then, I had a habit of buying books that seemed informative and keeping them on the shelf for later use. While in Goodwill, I searched for something along the lines of Christianity and theology. Goodwill usually had good books, so I came in expecting a diamond in the rough.
I discovered the Catechism on the shelf and was immediately drawn to it. Its breadth and massive size ensured that I’d seek and find a lot of insightful answers and knowledge on Christianity. I just didn’t know I’d find be finding Catholic answers!
Over the years before my official dive into Catholicism, I occasionally picked up the Catechism as a guide for deeper intimacy with God. If I was studying in, I’d pick up and read what the Catholic Church has to say about it. I didn’t really focus too much on what the Church taught, but I came to appreciate the timeless additional insight for deeper theological reflection.
Some practical reasons why the CCC is of utmost importance to my conversion happen to be the expounding on the Creed, Sacrament, Commandments and the citations and cross-references within.
The Nicene Creed was very important in the early church as it helped formulate exactly what Christians believed and crushed any form of heresy (Arianism) with its explicit references to high Christology. Also, there were break off sects that had trouble with Trinitarian beliefs and Jesus’ divinity. As a result, important statements like the Creed help maintain apostolic truth about the nature of the Holy Trinity. Consequently, we can read the Creed with certainty on its detailed explanations.
At Mass, we Catholics profess the faith by saying the Nicene Creed. If we didn’t actually know what’s being processed, it kind of makes the Creed reduced to simple words and lip service. So when I say “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth” to profess this requires knowledge of how God has revealed himself, who the Father is, and how it is hardwired for God. The Catechism answers all of these questions with abundant insight into a vast history of centuries of additional knowledge on various topics. The amazing organization of the Catechism beautifully explains the key beliefs of historic Christianity in each article and paragraph which can equip us to spiritually and intellectually grasp the faith.
Also, the Commandments. I enjoy the logical breakdown of each precept and how it extends to everyday matters. The fifth Commandment applies not only to murder but abortion and sterilization. I find the extensions on the 10 Commandments very much rooted in natural law as a guide to living in truth.
A claim often said by non-Catholics is that the Catholic Church is an extra-biblical religion without support from scripture. Things such as purgatory, relics, papacy are all rendered as “non-biblical” by Bible alone believing Christians.
On the contrary, The CCC provides scriptural evidence to support their doctrines and dogmas. Things that are a part of Tradition can’t contradict Sacred Scripture because both flow from the same source of truth, Jesus Christ. Moreover, the Catechism draws from numerous sources to provide added information on matters of dogma and doctrine such as Church and Apostolic age Fathers to Doctors of the Church, saints, and Church Councils.
What’s really great is that the Catechism attests to the historicity of ancient Christianity. Despite popular belief, the first centuries of the Church have nearly all the resemblances of what Catholicism looks like today. It just happens to look like a baby photo (another reason why I became Catholic for a different post).
Something that inevitably happens among priests is that they may have differing views on approaching certain subjects. Ideally, we would want a perfect Church where everyone obeys the sound doctrine, but that’s not the reality we live in. Thankfully, if a deacon or priests provide seemingly contradictory guidance or direction, I don’t have to worry about my faith being rooted in error. Furthermore, I don’t have to rely on someone’s private interpretation, but instead, I can have reliable assurance on what the Church teaches rather than someone’s opinion by simply looking in the Catechism.
Covering every topic in the Bible from sin to Last Things, there’s no teaching the Catechism doesn’t cover. Even matters of social issues, the Church provides us with an immeasurable guide to holiness and charity. As described in the synopsis, the Catechism is, “a positive, coherent, and contemporary map for our spiritual journey toward transformation.” Principally for Catholics, but yet useful for non-Catholics as well.
I’m so thankful to have picked up a copy! Maybe it’s your guide into the Catholic Church.
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