Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Handbook For Recently Deceased

I’m sure everyone will remember this conversation from Beetlejuice:

Barbara: I hate this. Just… can you give me the basics?

Adam: Well, this book isn't arranged that way. What do you wanna know?

Barbara: Well, why did you disappear when you stepped off the porch? Are we halfway to heaven? Are we halfway to hell? And... how long is this gonna last?

Adam: I don't see anything about heaven OR hell. This book reads like stereo instructions. Listen to this: "Geographical and temporal perimeters. Functional perimeters vary from manifestation to manifestation.” Oh, this is gonna take some time, honey.

You know, I can kind of sympathize with the ghosts of Adam and Barbara as they struggle with The Handbook For The Recently Deceased. Why? Because I’ve spent my fair share of time trudging through Church documents, that’s why? Apostolic Exhortations, Letters & Constitutions. Papal Enycyclicals. Moto Propios. The Code of Canon Law. Don’t get me wrong, some of them are beautiful. But some of them make stereo instructions seem like the works of Shakespeare. Despite the truths they contain, the dense writing style in some of those documents can be overwhelming, especially for the person who is just beginning to develop an interest in delving deeper into the philosophy and teachings of the Church.

That’s why it was such a big deal when the Catechism first hit the streets in 1992, offering as it did “a statement of the Church's faith and of Catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium.” Pope John Paul II went on to declare the Catechism “a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion.” Given all that, a person could do a lot worse than actually taking the time to read through the thing. 

Now, as I embarrassingly forgot, but Cari over at Clan Donaldson fortunately remembered, Flocknote is providing a program that will allow you to read through the Catechism over the course of one year as a part of the Year of Faith. Here’s how it works.

“Every morning you'll receive an email with everything you need to read for that day. Additionally, if you're interested, you can click the "View or Reply" button at the bottom of any email and it will jump you to a page where we can all comment and converse about that day's reading as a community.  (Tweeters can use #Catechism, too.)

Do your little bit each day and it will be easy. And you'll also learn why the Catechism is one of the great treasures of our Church.

If you get behind...catch up (or just jump ahead)! We're in this thing together. As of right now, there are about 27,000 other people doing this with you! And the list is still growing.”

I’ve already read through the Catechism once using this guide from the Coming Home Network, but I’m signed up with Flocknote to do so again. After all, since I’ve got the word Catechism in my blog title, it’s probably not a bad idea to keep brushing up on it. Anyway, feel free to join in if you feel so inclined. Just keep in mind what everybody’s favorite alleged deathbed convert Oscar Wilde once said, “It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.”


Anonymous said...

You probably already know this, but a smart priest once advised my class not to read the CCC, but pray it with lectio divina. Good advice.

Thanks for the link.

Xena Catolica

Unknown said...

Not only do I remember that exchange, but I can still hear Alec Baldwin's voice as he says, "I don't see anything about heaven OR hell. This thing reads like stereo instructions."
Ha. Good times.

Xena Catholica, I love your suggestion to pray the Catechism, rather than reading it. That's excellent advice.

EegahInc said...

Yep, I can't argue with that advice. In fact, I think I'll include it in my very next post.

Eric Mendoza said...

Dave, don't forget to mention that we can use this opportunity to restudy the documents from Vatican II, since it's the 50th anniversary of the ecumenical council. I think Jeffrey Miller was nice enough to put them all into Kindle format over at the Curt Jester.

film said...

not everyday do i read blogs that invoke debate and insight interest within me. nice work

EegahInc said...

Eric, Good call. I'll inclde that in an upcoming post.

Thank you, film, I'll be sure to check out your site.