If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I’m a proponent of what John L. Allen has called “Affirmative Orthodoxy.” In his words this is “a tenacious defense of the core elements of classic Catholic doctrine, but presented in a relentlessly positive key.” Or, as Pope Benedict XVI has said,
Christianity, Catholicism, isn’t a collection of prohibitions: it’s a positive option. It’s very important that we look at it again because this idea has almost completely disappeared today. We’ve heard so much about what is not allowed that now it’s time to say: we have a positive idea to offer.
Unfortunately, in our evangelization and catechetical efforts, it can be easy to focus on the “thou shalt nots” of the faith, forgetting that these are first grounded in “thou shalts.” But if we want to attract people to the faith — if we truly want to be fishers of men — we must give them something positive to believe in together and not just focus on what we can condemn together.
As I said, this can be tricky. So beginning Monday, as an exercise for myself, I will be publishing a weekly series of blog posts demonstrating how some of the harder teachings of the Church can be presented first from a positive point of reference. The subjects I will be tackling are
I hope that you will find these posts interesting and helpful. I invite you to leave comments on the posts, especially if you’ve ever wrestled with how to answer questions about these doctrines from friends, family, or others. See you tomorrow!
The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.
– The Roman Catechism no. 10 (quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church)
Survey of Catholic Doctrine (August 7 through September 10, 2011) – “This course will look at some of the major doctrines of the Catholic Church. Participants will come to a better understanding of the Trinity, original sin, church, salvation history, and the communion of saints. Participants will be asked to identify the meaning of magisterium, ecumenism, eschatology, and other Catholic terms.”