Catechizing for Trust's Sake

Authored by Dr. Joseph Hollcraft in Issue #33.2 of The Sower

I recently found myself in conversation with a non-denominational friend about the many attacks on the Christian faith in the world today. During the course of our conversation, she said many times, ‘I just trust in my personal Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’. At the time I didn’t think much about this point, but later I concluded: in the end, my faithful friend is right - it is about being in relationship with Jesus Christ and trusting that He will care for us in all of our needs. In fact, I thought, this truth concerning relationship and trust is what we ought to be catechizing for. Blessed John Paul II had famously made a similar point: the sum goal of all catechesis is ‘to put people not only in communion with—but in intimacy with Jesus Christ’.[i] It is Christ who leads us into the Trinity.

Is there a foundational way which we are called to follow as Christ summons us to share in the life of the Trinity? Blessed John Paul II suggests that it is poverty: ‘The Church feels ever more strongly the impulse of the spirit to be poor among the poor, to remind everyone of the need to conform to the ideal of poverty practiced and preached by Christ, and to imitate Him in His sincere and active love for the poor.’[ii] John Paul wants us to conform to ‘the ideal of poverty practiced and preached by Jesus Christ.’ And so, what kind of poverty was ‘practiced and preached by Christ?’ For our answer we can turn to the great charter for holiness in the Beatitudes, and in particular to the first Beatitude: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’.[iii] For it is in this Beatitude that we discover the mystery of our call to surrender to God.

The Catechism reminds us that spiritual poverty is the ‘abandonment of ourselves to the providence of the Father in heaven who frees us from the anxiety about tomorrow’[iv]; it is an entrustment of ourselves to God in all things. Trust, placing ourselves in the care of life-giving providence, is the most concrete act of our living sonship with God. And if we wish to imitate Christ’s pedagogy we will catechize for a deeper understanding of what it means humbly to unite ourselves in trust to the will of the Father.

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