All posts tagged: Catechism

The Catechetical Political Theology of Joseph Ratzinger

Joseph Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity is a sort of catechism; it teaches, initiates, guides. Happily enough, this is clear in its title in both German and English: Einführung in das Christentum (“Ein,” meaning “into”[1] and “Führung,” “direction, steering, stewarding”),[2] Introduction to Christianity (“intro,” meaning “into,” “duco,” “to lead, to pull”).[3] According to Ignatius Press, this fondly-regarded text “is still very timely and crucial for the spiritual needs of modern man.”[4] In other words, Ratzinger’s book is a catechetical aid, it helps us bring our contemporaries into the thoughtful, rational, and wonderful world of Christian belief, and, thereby, into the serene discipline that is Catholic theology. I do not disagree with this, but, on a close reading of his sources and life, the book is far more: it betrays itself to be a kind of theological politics. Now Pope Emeritus Benedict has effectively admitted this in his most recent preface to the text. This is how it opens, how he introduces Introduction: Since this work was first published, more than thirty years have passed, in which …

Catholic Disagreements and the Catechism’s 25th Anniversary

This year marks the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s 25th anniversary, and I believe its silver year is one worth celebrating. I realize that my estimation is not shared by all in pastoral ministry nor in the academy. The word “catechism” elicits disdain for some, evoking preconciliar memories of rote memorization of endless questions and answers, an overly cognitive approach to religious education, and days marked by clericalism and passivity in the laity. Underlying these are problems more theological in nature: a universal catechism seems incongruent with a world marked by cultural relativism, and it manifests, or so the claim goes, an ill-conceived and outdated understanding of revelation as static and propositional. Isn’t the “universal” a Platonic leftover from earlier days, now understood only to be manifest in the particular? Or, more extremely, does universal truth even exist at all? Furthermore, isn’t truth subject to praxis, the only way of semi-empirically verifying the claims of any person or authority? These concerns are legitimate in the sense that those who voice them often do so from …

The Liturgy: Work of the Holy Trinity

It is well known that the reforms of the liturgy associated with Vatican II had as their goal greater participation on the part of all. Many things changed in the external celebration of the rites designed to facilitate this, and those changes have borne abundant fruit. But the renewal of the liturgy also wished to provide a fresh understanding of the meaning of the rites, a deeper theological grasp of what the words and the signs mean. And ultimately of what God does, what God accomplishes when the sacred liturgy is celebrated. Deepening this theological grasp is of immediate pastoral relevance, for it means greater interior and conscious participation in the rites themselves. This theological renewal is a work that we can take up anew, a question that continually needs our attention. This is the approach that The Catechism of the Catholic Church takes, and here I would like to show how useful some of its formulations are for a deepened understanding of the liturgy. After ten brief paragraphs that deal with preliminaries (CCC §§1066-1075), …