July 4, 2012

Notes June 26

·         Attendance was up, with Tom, Jeanne, and Amy.  Tom explained how Maryellen was following via the internet.
·         Following the prayers, we sang “How Great Thou Art” and “Our God is an Awesome God” and then proceeded to the Intercessory Prayers
·         In praying For Those We Love and For Those Who Need Your Help, we added prayers of those present (which will be included in next week’s prayer printout.)  An additional prayer of St. John Neumann was proposed to be added next week; Jeanne will send it to Tom for inclusion.
Catechism:  Life in Christ; Ch 1, Articles 1 & 2
·         It was decided to read the lessons aloud, commenting/questioning the text as we read the paragraphs.  We noted early on the benefits of the latest version of the catechism; the Glossary at the back served well to summarize what we were reading, clarifying broader relationships within the faith.  We also read through the relevant sections (Q 282-284) of YOUCAT, the youth version of the catechism which was in a question and answer format.
·         1697: “The demands of the way of Christ” – The first item, a catechesis of the Holy Spirit was to be learned in the Creed section of the catechism, but the other elements (grace, beatitudes, sin and forgiveness, human virtues, Christian virtues) are part of this catechism section (Life in Christ) which we will follow in the coming weeks.
·         1698: “The first and last point of reference of this catechesis will always be Jesus Christ himself, who is “the way, and the truth, and the life.”  It is by looking to him in faith that Christ’s faithful can hope that he himself fulfills his promises in them, and … they may perform works in keeping with their dignity. … For to me, to live is Christ (Phil 1:21).  This is the prayer of Paul we prayed at the start of our night, the aim of spending this time to learn the catechism doctrines of the faith.
·         1700: “The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God; fulfilled in his vocation to divine beatitude, … (and) it is essential … to direct himself to this fulfillment.  Human beings make their own contribution to their interior growth.”  This is re-emphasizing our commitment, these nights, to grow interiorly, a quick reminder of “why we’re here.”
·         1702: “The divine image is present … in the communion of persons, in the likeness of the union of the divine persons among themselves.”  While our personal relationship with God is important, our communion with others shows forth the image of the Trinity, the personal and relational good of God.
·         1704:  By his reason, man can gain an understanding of the order of creation.  By his free will, he can direct himself toward his true good, and “He finds his perfection ‘in seeking and loving what is true and good.’”  Our faith teaches that we can have an understanding of God, unlike some religions which hold his demands are beyond our reason, i.e., “Just do it because God said so.”
·         1706:  “By his reason, man recognizes the voice of God … which makes itself heard in conscience and is fulfilled in the love of God and of neighbor.”  This is contrary to the relativism preached in our culture because it says we can know the voice of God; we can recognize his truth. 
·         1709: If we believe in Christ, we become a “son of God.”  We are transformed and have “the ability to follow the example of Christ,” and are “capable of acting rightly and doing good.”  This is because we have been told what is right living, and have been shown its example in Christ.  His way may be hard, temptations may lead us astray, but we have the ability and are capable of choosing, with our free will, to have the perfection we were made to have.
·         1717:  “The Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ …  shed light on the actions and attitudes characteristic of the Christian life, … sustain hope in the midst of tribulations.”  We read the beatitudes and some further reading in Matthew of Jesus’ words on the Sermon on the Mount.  They are words telling us how to live.  They seem hard, and contrary to some inclinations of our nature.  We resolved to do further reading outside this study group.
·         1718:  “The Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness.”  We all want to be happy, and Jesus’ directions here are intended to lead us to true happiness. 
·         1719:  The Beatitudes reveal the goal of human existence, the ultimate end of human acts:  God calls us to his own beatitude.”  This calls us again to live as God intended us to live, in effect to take to heart the silly bracelets which were so popular:  WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?).
·         1720:  “.. expressions to characterize the beatitude to which God calls man:  the coming of the Kingdom of God:  The Glossary definition of the Kingdom of God helped us see that it is here now; we are bringing it about on earth.
·         1721:  “God put us in the world to know, to love, and to serve him.”  This sounded like the Baltimore Catechism answer to the question: “Why did God make me?”  “Beatitude makes us ‘partakers of the divine nature’ and of eternal life.  With beatitude, man enters into the glory of Christ.” 
·         1722:  “Such beatitude … comes from an entirely free gift of God.”  “Grace disposes man to enter into the divine joy,” but this is just a disposition.  Our free will puts our answer to God’s grace at risk.
·         1723:  “The beatitude we are promised confronts us with decisive moral choices.  It invites us to purity our hearts of bad instincts and to seek the love of God above all else.  It teaches us that true happiness is not found in riches or well-being … but in God alone.”  God didn’t set us up like rats in a maze, choosing our paths at random with our free will.  We have to choose, yes, but he has given us clear direction as to which way he would have us proceed.   
·         1724:  “The Decalogue, the Sermon on the Mount, and the apostolic catechesis (things taught in this catechism) describe for us the paths that lead to the Kingdom of heaven.  Sustained by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we tread them.”  Understanding the things of this catechism will help us understand which path we are to travel, the direction He provided for us.
·         1729:  The beatitude of heaven helps us use earthly goods in keeping with the law of God.
·         We wrote and discussed answers to the proposed 4 questions about our topics tonight.  Some of the key points were deemed:  “the joy and demands of the Way of Christ” (1697); He fulfills His promises to us (1698); We choose to fulfill our vocation/purpose, and the importance of God’s image shining forth in us in our love of neighbor.  New learnings included:  By his reason, man recognizes the voice of God (1706).  The Beatitudes took on a more important meaning for us, now seen in the light of a summary of how we are to “put on the mind of Christ.” 
·         We read the answers provided by Maryellen to the four questions; we were humbled with their depth and clarity.   We appreciated her input.  I provide them below:
·         What do you think are the key points made in the text?
·         The dignity of man
·          Man’s choice: one of two ways.  one of life the other of death. These choices are always before us
·         The catechesis the church provides for us to assist us in living out our Baptismal promises.
·         Being formed in the image and likeness of God, we receive that dignity. (Chapter One)
·         Life in the Holy Spirit brings man into freedom, enabling him to follow Jesus. Even though wounded by original sin, with the assistance of Grace, he is encouraged to do what is good.
·         Jesus provides man with the Beatitudes, which form the core of His teachings, and gives us the formula for attaining happiness through Holiness.

·          What did you learn?  What was new to you?
·         I learned of the Beatitude to which God calls man. The use of Beatitude as a single noun was new to me. It is a new and different concept to me.
·         1727 The beatitude of Eternal life is a gratuitous gift of God. It is supernatural, as is the grace that leads us there. (awesome)

·         How does this impact your relationship with God?
·         Beatitude seems like Baptism on steroids, and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit also on steroids.
·         For some reason, the singular noun, is more compelling to me.  It will cause me to approach God with more confidence (just as his Mercy causes me to approach Him with confidence) Here is another sacred gift I will cherish.

·         What’s next:  Will this change how you act?  Should we study this further (research)?
·         I fully expect it to change how I act, because I am now motivated to study the Beatitudes as a means to increasing Charity. I will type them out and print them to keep them assessable. I might try to read them every day, or perhaps at least once a week.  Surely if I read them over and over, they will eventually be imprinted on my mind.
Next Week:  Articles, 3, 4, & 5 (Pages 430-437)

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