Friday, October 08, 2004

The Great Pumpkin 

My RCIA lesson for Monday is Chapter 7 ("People of God: The Christian Community") in "This is our Faith" by Michael Francis Pennock. The book is a re-telling of the Catechism of the Catholic Faith, so at times it goes too deeply into detail. In this chapter, for example, the book discusses "sacramentum," a Latin word which translates into the Greek word, "mysterion." The chapter talks about "efficacious symbols" (a symbol that embodies the reality it represents), it talks about "diakonia" (Service) and "leitourgia" (the work of the public), etc. These tidbits of what ancient words mean in relation to the modern church might be interesting, but the detail is a distraction for me. I won't remember any of this and am sure that many fantastic Catholics don't know that the Greek word for "people" is "laos" from which we get the word "laity." Should I struggle to care?

The most interesting topic seemed, to me, to be "Can non-Christians be saved" Here is what paragraph 847 in the Catholic Catechism says:

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.
Which reminds me of "The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown:"

Linus: . . . and then on Halloween night the "Great Pumpkin" rises up out of the pumpkin patch. . . and he brings toys to all the good little children in the world!

Charlie Brown: You're crazy!

Linus: All right, so you believe in Santa Claus and I'll believe in the "Great Pumpkin". . . the way I see it, it doesn't matter what you believe just so you're sincere!

But it does answer that coffee house question everyone asked in college: what about all the people who died who never had a chance to know Christ?

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