Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

A Little Catechism to Fortify Our Faith in Troubled Times

By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 15, 2022

Abandoning the Catholic faith in tumultuous times is an act of betrayal and spiritual suicide. This brief Catechism aims to provide reliable reasons to tough it out. “Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and remain faithful.” (2 Tim. 3:14)

Why is the orthodox Catholic faith essential?

Christian belief maintains sanity and common sense. “God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them.” (Genesis 5:1-2) Hence, the word “man” expresses the original unity—and community life—of males and females in marriage. The sin of Adam and Eve and our sins damage the Divine image imprinted upon us and distort our self-understanding as human beings. The Incarnation restores our humanity in Jesus and elevates our self-understanding. The human body is the “sacrament” of the soul, destined for resurrection on the Last Day.

What are the contemporary threats to our understanding of the Catholic faith and morals?

Why is it important to consider threats to the Catholic faith?

We risk the fires of hell for inaction.

How did Jesus treat the obstinacy of the religious leaders of His time?

Many times, Jesus denounces the clergy-equivalents: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Mt. 23:27)

Are there Gospel precedents to unfaithfulness in the Catholic hierarchy?

Jesus numbers among His apostles a man who would deny Him and another who would betray Him.

How does Revelation fortify the authentic teachings of the Catholic faith?

When, with goodwill, we accept the Resurrection as plausible, it becomes reasonable when considering the entire narrative of God’s encounter with man, repeatedly presented to us through the Sacred Liturgy and the liturgical year.

How does reason fortify the authentic teachings of the Catholic faith?

The Resurrection allows us to recalibrate and assemble the entirety of God’s Revelation within the simple framework of the Apostles’ Creed. Revelation is reasonable and coherent. The Catholic faith is the marriage of faith and reason.

Is Natural Law subject to change?

No. Jesus personifies Natural Law: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn. 14:15) The union of God and man in Jesus affirms the compatibility of Natural Law with God’s law. Natural Law allows us to see the unity of faith and reason and the complementarity of science and religion. The Incarnation affirms that science is indeed the study of the handiwork of God.

How do footnotes fortify the Catholic faith?

The rock-solid faith in Christ and His teachings are affirmed in the many footnotes tracing the Church’s teaching through historical documents back to Christ.

How do Scripture and Tradition guide the Magisterium?

The Magisterium cannot be disassociated from Scripture and Tradition. There can be development of doctrine and deeper understanding of doctrine but not contradictions of doctrine. The “sense of the faith” (sensus fidei) by the faithful can identify and reject violations of the “principle of non-contradiction” that holds together the entirety of revelation—Magisterium, Scriptures, and Tradition.

How do martyrs witness to the faith?

Christian martyrs risk and surrender their lives in Jesus for the firm certainties of faith promising salvation. When we think of the Church’s Magisterium, we must also keep in mind the Magisterium of the Martyrs.

What is the relationship of the clergy to the Magisterium?

Priests, bishops, and popes are the ministers of the faith, not the masters.

What is the role of faithful obedience?

“…the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.” (Canon 212 §1)

How does obedience bind the hierarchy?

Obedience also binds Church authorities to Sacred Tradition and moral law. “…they [the laity] have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful….” (Canon 212 §3)

Is it ever possible to disagree with the Church?

Mary is the model of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. So to criticize authentic Church teaching is to belittle the obedience of Mary, and to disparage the faith of Mary is to criticize Christ. Our devotion to Mary restores orthodoxy.

The hierarchy of the Catholic Church—even at the highest levels, as Saint Peter’s example makes clear—is quite capable of failing in its teaching mission.

In practical terms, what can we do?

Fr. Jerry Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington who has also served as a financial administrator in the Diocese of Lincoln. Trained in business and accounting, he also holds a Master of Divinity and a Master’s in moral theology. Father Pokorsky co-founded both CREDO and Adoremus, two organizations deeply engaged in authentic liturgical renewal. He writes regularly for a number of Catholic websites and magazines. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: ewaughok - Aug. 17, 2022 9:43 AM ET USA

    A great catechetical summary, Fr. Pokorsky! If only more catholic priests were as plain spoken as yourself! It is a shame that “The hierarchy of the Catholic Church—even at the highest levels, as Saint Peter’s example makes clear—is quite capable of failing in its teaching mission.” Yet until Francis, we have had very good popes with respect to doctrinal teaching, for several centuries. They may have failed in personal morality in some instances, but did not skirt teaching doctrinal error.