The Search For Truth
by Dr. Joseph D. Hollowell, 7 yrs ago
One of the things I most love about being Catholic is that our Church has had 2,000 years to reflect on the vast array of moral dilemmas that confront humanity. From stem cell research to nuclear war, from domestic violence to the rights of slaves, from capital punishment to contraception, there has not been an ethical issue that the Church has not expounded upon or backed away from. Living up to that teaching has always been a problem for all human persons (including those in the Church) but I find the teachings to be a great gift in my life.
The history of the Church is very much a history of the search for truth. In John's Gospel Jesus tells us that "you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free". And the Church Jesus established endeavors to help us know that truth clearly no matter how hard it is for us to hear. Much of what the Church has discerned and much of what God has taught us collectively over the past two millennia is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This book is a wonderful resource for all of us and is a great gift to those of us who want to know more about our faith.
One of the outcomes of the Second Vatican Council was that the Church, for more than a few decades, wrestled with trying to come to grips with teaching the people of the Church, and in many cases its priests and religious brothers and sisters, what had changed as a result of Vatican II and what had remained. I was in fifth grade as some of these changes began to take place. As a young man trying to memorize my prayers in Latin so that I could be an altar boy, I remember being ecstatic that we were switching to Mass in English and that the Latin version of the Confetior would no longer be recited. But as I grew older the confusion in our Church and its teachers took hold and the lack of understanding and certainty in the Church and what it taught became a seriously regrettable problem. My Catholic high school religion classes are a perfect example. My memories of these days include making clay animals on retreat, making meaningless collages from pictures cut out of magazines, watching slide shows about the Viet Nam war set to music by the Doors, and participating in an all-school daylong activity called Realization Day. As a result of this confusing catechesis, many of my friends and peers ended up leaving a Catholic Church that they never really learned about. To this day many of them have no idea what they ended up saying “No” to as they walked away from the Church. They had not been properly taught.
In speaking with some of the priests and sisters that were teaching at that time, they tell me that I am describing essentially what took place in all of our Catholic schools around the country. After Vatican II there were simply no text books or standardized guidance as to what was still important and what was not. People were left to their own devices and the forces of modern culture to adapt as best they could. A soup of confusion followed.
Finally, with the publishing of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1992, an answer to the worldwide uncertainty to the Church’s teaching in the wake of Vatican II, we are all coming slowly but steadily back to the essential nature of the Catholic faith. Next year we will begin phasing in textbooks that are approved by the bishops of this country for our religion classes at Roncalli. It has actually taken this long to get textbooks that are now in total conformity to the teachings of the Catechism. It has been a long, hard, slog to get back to this point and the journey has not always been pretty. As we begin to implement these texts and teachings that more accurately reflect God’s truth I pray that the young people in our charge will come to know Truth and that it will truly set them free.
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