Labor Day marks the unofficial end of Summer for many people, especially for students who are resuming (or have already resumed) another year of education. With each new year comes new material that deepens the student’s understanding of current concepts or introduces him or her to new concepts. Such is the case with our Family of Faith family catechesis program as well. As you will recall from last year, I stressed that our entire parish community is a family, so we are all invited into this process of ongoing formation in our faith.
Last year, our focus was on the second major section of the Catechism which deals with the Sacraments. This year, we continue to build on that foundation and move into the third major section of the Catechism: “Life in Christ.” The connection between these two sections can be seen in the introductory paragraphs of this section where we read:
Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, Christians are “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” and so participate in the life of the Risen Lord. Following Christ and united with him, Christians can strive to be “imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love” by conforming their thoughts, words and actions to the “mind … which is yours in Christ Jesus,” and by following his example. (CCC 1694)
At the most fundamental level, the sacraments give us grace, which is a participation in the life of Christ, thus making it possible for us to live our life “through Him, with Him, and in Him.” And living our lives in union with Christ is the most basic explanation of what this section of the Catechism is all about. We will cover various topics during this year, including the virtues, the Commandments, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, the Beatitudes, and Catholic Social Teaching. All of these topics touch on how we should live our lives as Christians – every aspect of our lives – thoughts, words, and actions. The goal of our lives is not just following a set of rules, but it is all about letting the life of Christ be continued in our lives.
When it comes to the moral life taught by the Church, we so often fail to understand this most important point. Many people only hear “do this” or “don’t do that” and it seems like the Church is trying to control our lives. But do we ever stop to put those commandments in the proper context? Do we truly appreciate that what Christ (and by extension the Church) teaches us and asks of us is actually a true path to freedom and joy? We will only come to that understanding if we start with the person of Christ and our relationship with Him, hearing His words addressed to us that summarize His desire for us in offering us His teaching: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Do you desire this for your life, to have life and have it more abundantly? I guarantee the answer for each of us is a resounding “yes”! So what do we have to lose in following the way of life Christ and the Church invites us to live? I hope you will come to discover, over the course of this year, that we have absolutely nothing good to lose. Rather, by letting the life of Christ be lived in us, we have everything to gain, most importantly eternal life in Heaven.