This is the first installment of the chronicle my study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This catechism was officially promulgated in 1997 by Pope John Paul II. According to the description of the Logos electronic version, which I am using, this is “the first ‘universal’ Catholic catechism since the Reformation, and only the second one in history.” That is remarkable in itself, given how many doctrinal statements Protestantism has produced in the last nearly 600 years. I do not know where this study will take me. I am open. Let it be.
First observation: Evangelical sentiments should be pleased with the following words found in the introduction of the Catechism. After describing the four-fold division of the Catechism (Creed, Sacred Liturgy, Christian way of life, Christian prayer), we read:
In reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church we can perceive the wonderful unity of the mystery of God, his saving will, as well as the central place of Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, sent by the Father, made man in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be our Savior. Having died and risen, Christ is always present in his Church, especially in the sacraments; he is the source of our faith, the model of Christian conduct, and the Teacher of our prayer.
Note the emphasis upon the centrality of Christ; there is no confusing the significance of Mary with that of Jesus.
Second observation: Lest we think that Catholicism is a religion of salvation by works, we find this:
Grace, the fruit of the sacraments, is the irreplaceable condition for Christian living, just as participation in the Church’s Liturgy requires faith. If faith is not expressed in works, it is dead (cf. Jas 2:14–16) and cannot bear fruit unto eternal life.
Is this not an echo of the biblical witness to the Christian way: we are saved by grace through a faith that is demonstrated by the way we live.
So far, so good.