My family has a copy, which I've read. Part of it, anyway. I think it's a good teaching aid. The question-and-answer format gets rediscovered by educators at intervals, and that's another topic.
One of those Q & A couplets answers an important question:
"4. What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?The implication, I think, is that we want to "gain the happiness of heaven," and that God wants us to do so. I've run into some very odd notions about what Heaven and Hell are like, and that's yet another topic.1
"To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world."
(Baltimore Catechism, Revised Edition (1941), The Purpose of Man's Existence, via CatholiCity.com)
'To Know and Love God'The current Catechism of the Catholic Church says we're supposed to know and love God, too: and goes into a bit more detail:
"I. The life of man - to know and love GodThat's nowhere near as easy to memorize as what the Baltimore Catechism said - but that's okay with me. I never was all that good at memorization: and learned how to look up information I wanted at an early age.
"God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Saviour. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1)
Jesus, Redeemer and SaviorThat paragraph from the Catechism says that God sent Jesus, Redeemer and Savior, to call everyone to God. (Catechism, 1) The next one starts telling how my Lord got the ball rolling. (Catechism, 2) It's that thing from Matthew 28:
"11 Then Jesus approached and said to them, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, 12 and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. 13 And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.' "About two millennia later, those orders haven't changed - and the successors of Peter have been passing along the commission, and the authority, they received from the Man who is God - and Who wouldn't stay dead. I've posted about Matthew 16:13-19 and the keys of the Kingdom before.2
So I'm Following Jesus: Now What?I've 'believed in' Jesus, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit, ever since I can remember. Which isn't the same as understanding God: and that's yet again another topic.
Being the sort of person I am, I've been learning about my Lord. There's more to being a Christian than that, though, which the next paragraph in the Catechism points out:
"Those who with God's help have welcomed Christ's call and freely responded to it are urged on by love of Christ to proclaim the Good News everywhere in the world. This treasure, received from the apostles, has been faithfully guarded by their successors. All Christ's faithful are called to hand it on from generation to generation, by professing the faith, by living it in fraternal sharing, and by celebrating it in liturgy and prayer.6"That's a lot of words, but it looks like the instructions are fairly simple:
- Proclaim the Good News
- Pass on the treasure of faith by
- Living it
- Celebrating it in
As usual, there's more to it than that.
How much more? I checked: The Catechism starts discussing the Lord's Prayer around paragraph #2759, gets to the Seven Petitions around #2803, and keeps going. There's a lot to learn there.
Then, after the Catechism, there's an accumulation of several thousand years' worth of documentation - some of which is available online at vatican.va, the Holy See's website.
And that's yet again one more topic.
- " 'Understand God?' Ha!"
(September 9, 2011)
- "Providence, God's Tender Kindness, and Training a Mule"
(September 24, 2010)
- "'To Know, Love, and Serve God' - Great, but How?!"
(August 28, 2010)
- "Baptism of Desire: Or, Two Thousand Years of Not Knowing Everything"
(May 3, 2010)
- "Dying to Ourselves, Dying to Self: Not Exactly a Feel-Good Religion?"
(March 3, 2009)
- Heaven, Hell, and hope
- The meaning of Christian death
- Particular judgment
- Final purification, or Purgatory
- Last Judgment
1 I think that spending eternity in Heaven is preferable to the alternative:
- "Angels, Demons, Theological Hooey, and Redemption"
(October 31, 2011)
- "An Eternal Life I can Live With"
(August 27, 2011)
- "Hell, Heaven, Character, and Culture"
(June 23, 2011)
- "Oh, Hell: You Mean That Place Really Exists?"
(November 20, 2010)
- "Benedict XVI in Germany, My Take: Dissent, Conversion, and Knowledge"
(September 30, 2011)
- "Authority: My Wife's Right"
(March 30, 2011)
- "The Catholic Church: Authoritarian, Which Isn't Necessarily a Bad Thing"
(October 2, 2008)