“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) This is one of Jesus’ Beatitudes from His Sermon on the Mount. “Poor in spirit” means to be humble. Well, I am humble enough to admit that there is so much that I am still constantly learning about our rich Catholic faith.
Our first-born child received his First Penance and his First Holy Communion earlier this summer. It was a joyous occasion and one that we have been working on to prepare him since he was very young. As our children are homeschooled, catechism is the most important subject that we teach them, taking it very seriously to ensure that our children understand that our main goal in this life is to spend the next life with God in Heaven.
When we enrolled our son in our church’s First Communion class, we were excited for him to make new friends from our parish and to learn more about our faith from our priest. What I did not know would happen, and what was an added benefit, is that we would learn new things also.
Since our parish allows parents to sit in on the First Communion class, I was eager to get the most out of the class, bringing a notebook and pen with me to take notes to review later with my husband and our other children.
This brings me to the very first fact that I learned, which I never knew before:
1. Parents are the first educators of their children and catechism classes should be supplementary. Catechism classes should not be the only source of Catholic education for children. Learning the faith must begin, and be primarily taught and lived by example, at home.
In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children.” CCC # 2223
Pope Pius XI states in his encyclical on marriage, “Casti Connubii,” that “the blessing of offspring... is not completed by the mere begetting of them, but something else must be added, namely the proper education of the offspring. For the most wise God would have failed to make sufficient provision for children that had been born, and so for the whole human race, if he had not given to those to whom he had entrusted the power and right to beget them, the power also and the right to educate them.”
2. The faithful who died before the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus went to Abraham’s Bosom.
This is something that really shocked me because I had not known or even thought of it before. Our priest explained to the children that before Jesus opened the gates of Heaven, those who died and would eventually go to Heaven went somewhere called Abraham’s Bosom.
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” — “Sheol” in Hebrew or “Hades” in Greek — because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the redeemer, which does not mean that their lot is identical.” (CCC 633)
Our priest mentioned the story in the Bible where Jesus tells of the rich man and the beggar, Lazarus, who lay at the rich man’s gate full of sores. (Luke 16:19-31) Now, I have read this passage many, many times in my life and have heard it read at Mass. Not once did I stop to think what is “Abraham’s Bosom.”
In Luke 16, Jesus tells us of two different places where man’s soul went at death: The first is a place of comfort called “Abraham’s Bosom,” which was reserved for those who died with faith in God and would go to Heaven when Jesus opened its doors. The second is a place of torment, which was and still is reserved for those who died without faith in God that we today call Hell (i.e., the state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed).
All who were in Abraham’s Bosom were taken up with Jesus when he ascended to Heaven after his death, burial, and resurrection. This can be found in Ephesians 4:8.3. Baptism takes away original, venial and mortal sins.
This is one that I was really kicking myself for not knowing, as my dear husband received the Sacrament of Baptism as an adult after completing an RCIA program. I will have to defer to the fact that I must have been so focused on my receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation (we were in the same RCIA program) to have remembered this very important fact.
Some may say that one gets a “free pass” by being baptized as an adult and given, by the grace of God, restoration of a person to a State of Grace. However, the person being baptized is exhorted to have sorrow for personal sins.
Hopefully, most knew these three topics, but if you did not, you learned something new as we will never stop learning about Catholicism until we get to Heaven! As a “cradle Catholic” who had a reversion as an adult, one would think that I know a great deal about Catholicism. But I will never stop learning and will continuously seek to grow closer to God by learning about him through his Church. I pray you do as well!
Christina Frye is a lifelong Rhode Islander, wife, mother and founder of Catholic Mom Rhode Island, www.CatholicMomRI.com.