Catholics called to take action to make kingdom ‘visible’ in world

| Mark Zimmermann | March 25, 2013 | 0 Comments
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In his book “Faith That Transforms Us: Reflections on the Creed,” Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl encourages Catholics to pray, reflect and then act on the Nicene Creed that they recite at each Mass.

That prayer, reflection and action can help Catholics carry out the work of the new evangelization — to deepen their faith, grow in confidence of its truth, and share it with others, the cardinal writes in the new book, published in recent weeks by The Word Among Us Press in Frederick, Md.

“We begin, in a small way, with the faithful profession of the creed. It is only the beginning,” the cardinal writes in the book’s’ conclusion.

The Washington archbishop’s related book, “New Evangelization: Passing on the Catholic Faith Today,” was published earlier this year by Our Sunday Visitor.

Cardinal Wuerl — one of the 115 cardinal electors currently in Rome to choose the new pope — is known for his teaching ministry. He is the author of the best-selling catechisms “The Teaching of Christ” and “The Catholic Way,” and of the books “The Mass” and “Seek First the Kingdom.”

“I have been a priest for almost a half century and a bishop for about half that time. You could say that I have spent my life preparing this book, through my preaching and teaching,” the cardinal writes in his new book on the creed.

The book begins with the familiar words of the Nicene Creed, which starts: “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible….” During Mass, Catholics recite those words of faith together after the Gospel has been read and the homily has been preached.

In the book’s introduction, Cardinal Wuerl explains that, “for Christians, a creed is a summary of who Jesus is and what he does. It is a compact statement of belief. It comes from the Latin word credo, which means ‘I believe.'”

Noting that Jesus’ great commission to the apostles to bring the good news to the ends of the earth is now the calling of today’s disciples, the cardinal writes: “This book is all about increasing our faith. So we should begin by making the apostles’ prayer our own.”

Each chapter of the book includes the cardinal’s reflections on different sections of the Nicene Creed, and highlights the scriptural passage that presents the divine revelation about those words in the Creed, insight on the meaning of those words, how those truths can transform believers, how they can live out those words, and how they can share those words with others.

The chapters close with questions for individual or group reflection and for discussion, and related passages from Scripture and from references such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults; from the writings of Pope Benedict XVI; and from Cardinal Wuerl’s other book published by The Word Among Us Press, “The Gift of Blessed John Paul II.”

In the book’s chapter on the creed’s passage “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,” the cardinal notes: “What we believe about Jesus sets us apart, defines us. To be Catholic means something specific. It means to hold certain doctrines as true and to reject others as false, just as the apostles did, just as Jesus did. It means to stand freely on the side of the martyrs, and not as a slave to the dominant culture, the reigning government or the latest fashions.”

In that chapter, Cardinal Wuerl explains the meaning of the word “consubstantial” in the Creed: “Father and Son are of the same substance. They share a single divine nature.”

In reflecting on how the truth of that passage can transform the believer, the cardinal notes that through prayerful study of the faith and by seeking God’s grace in their lives, people can see Christ’s light, and “we will recognize his presence in ourselves, in others, and in the sacraments of the church, especially in the Eucharist.”

The cardinal notes that studying the catechism can help Catholics deepen their friendship with and knowledge of Jesus, and in turn they can share their faith by helping others to encounter Christ’s truth, perhaps by teaching a parish religious education class or by writing letters to the editor when the Church’s teachings are misrepresented.

In the chapter examining the Nicene Creed’s passage about Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, Cardinal Wuerl writes, “Our lives should be guided by the hope of the resurrection. We direct all our affairs and actions according to the understanding that we already have this new life within us, the Spirit of the risen Lord.”

Then in the chapter on the creed’s passage about Jesus ascending into heaven, Cardinal Wuerl notes that when the apostles stood staring toward heaven after Jesus’s ascension, the angels in effect told them, “Don’t just stand there … do what you’ve been told to do.”

Likewise, Cardinal Wuerl said, today’s disciples cannot stand idle. “Each one of us can do something positive to manifest the kingdom of God — to make it visible and present in the world today.”

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Category: Book Reviews