Lumen Fidei 46

Today’s post looks at the topic of “Faith, prayer and the Decalogue” in its entirety in this one section. The “prayer” Pope Francis cites is the common daily prayer taught by the Lord Himself:

46. Two other elements are essential in the faithful transmission of the Church’s memory. First, the Lord’s Prayer, the “Our Father”. Here Christians learn to share in Christ’s own spiritual experience and to see all things through his eyes. From him who is light from light, the only-begotten Son of the Father, we come to know God and can thus kindle in others the desire to draw near to him.

This is a new insight to me: that in praying this prayer, believers express their relationship to the Father as Jesus experienced it. I appreciate the catechetical instinct: praying is one way of coming to know God.

The Ten Commandments are a starting point:

Similarly important is the link between faith and the Decalogue. Faith, as we have said, takes the form of a journey, a path to be followed, which begins with an encounter with the living God. It is in the light of faith, of complete entrustment to the God who saves, that the Ten Commandments take on their deepest truth, as seen in the words which introduce them: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt” (Ex 20:2). The Decalogue is not a set of negative commands, but concrete directions for emerging from the desert of the selfish and self-enclosed ego in order to enter into dialogue with God, to be embraced by his mercy and then to bring that mercy to others. Faith thus professes the love of God, origin and upholder of all things, and lets itself be guided by this love in order to journey towards the fullness of communion with God. The Decalogue appears as the path of gratitude, the response of love, made possible because in faith we are receptive to the experience of God’s transforming love for us. And this path receives new light from Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mt 5-7).

It is not just the Beatitudes, that leadoff teaching from the Mount, but the entirety of those three chapters of Matthew’s Gospel.

Also new to me is the insight that the desert experience can at times be interpreted as an era of dry selfishness as well as formative. Do believers see the Decalogue as an act of gratitude and a response of love for God who has been with us through our trying experiences of life? I doubt many Christians see it that way. But observing–not to mention keeping–the Ten Commandments as something more than a set of legal prescriptions, this would be something new to the Christians of today.

These, then, are the four elements which comprise the storehouse of memory which the Church hands down: the profession of faith, the celebration of the sacraments, the path of the ten commandments, and prayer. The Church’s catechesis has traditionally been structured around these four elements; this includes the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is a fundamental aid for that unitary act with which the Church communicates the entire content of her faith: “all that she herself is, and all that she believes”.[Dei Verbum 8]

So we have …

  • creed
  • sacraments
  • law
  • prayer

… as you’ve no doubt encountered in the Catechism. Does it make sense? Does it make sense as an act of gratitude? How would you suggest we transition into that posture of thankfulness?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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