A Pilgrim's Catechism
The Occasional Thoughts of a 21st-Century Roman Catholic on Journey
Towards the Reign of God
Thomas Stothard: Pilgrimage to Canterbury
Why a Pilgrim’s Catechism?
I learned my first lessons about God reciting the Baltimore Catechism at my mother’s knee. The formal structure of the catechism can be a closed catalog of dogma but can also allow for an informal compilation of ideas, occasional thoughts if you will, in response to a variety of questions that arise now and then. It can as well be open to constant revision as new insights appear and conflicts and even contradictions surface. God alone is absolute truth. All human efforts to understand God are subject to further amplification, even the realization that all human efforts in this regard are ultimately fruitless because true knowledge of God is always gift.
This is a pilgrim’s catechism because over the years I have sensed myself more and more on a journey, not only through space and time but in everything that I am towards a destiny not of my own choosing. The Israelites thought that they were being called to a destiny in the Land. Jesus described it rather as a final, absolute, otherworldly reality that is already somehow bursting into this world. Jesus called it the reign of God.
Every human called on this journey makes his pilgrimage in the company of others. To be human is always to be with and for the others. I have been a Roman Catholic from infancy and my family before me has been Catholic for time out of mind. And so I make this journey in the Roman Catholic Church which claims for itself a privileged role in service of the reign of God. But I also recognize that God speaks to every person, that the company of pilgrims embraces all of humanity, that we are all God’s children called to grow in his life and to share that life with one another on the journey towards his reign.