Sunday, December 2, 2012
A Man with a Plan (CCCC #1)*
I’m pretty sure that my father (left) had a plan when he came back from war in 1946. (He took a semester at the University of Birmingham in England, before returning to Yale.) His plan would have been straightforward: to find a job and then a wife, in that order, and then together to make a home and raise a family.
Dad wouldn’t have envisioned me exactly, any more than God necessarily had me exactly in mind when he made His Own Plan, but because my father was a good man and his plan was a good plan, when the particular child that was me appeared, I was provided for and cherished. And I shared in Dad’s abundant life.
1. God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. . . .
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) begins with these words, and the Compendium of the CCC, which corresponds to it and serves as a sort of handbook to the weighty tome of the CCC, begins with the question—
What is the plan of God for man?
Yesterday afternoon, the Bull family convened at a restaurant in New York City to celebrate the 60th birthday of one of my sisters, all four of whom were likewise provided for in Dad’s plan, as was my brother too. Our mother was there to celebrate with all six of her kids, plus two in-laws and a couple of Nancy’s dear friends from the city. Only one person was missing—Dad, gone these four years, two months, and seven days.
But his presence was felt. At one point Mom pulled out a picture of our father, and it passed slowly up and down the length of the party table. The jokes and jibes went quiet for a few moments. Some gazed.
Dad’s plan, hatched 65 years ago, came to be out of his “sheer goodness,” and our mother’s too, and though we have our rough and awkward moments, our family of six plus Mom, plus eleven grandchildren now, is intact.
The Compendium answers the first question this way—
God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. In the fullness of time, God the Father sent his Son as the Redeemer and Savior of mankind, fallen into sin, thus calling all into his Church and, through the work of the Holy Spirit, making them adopted children and heirs of his eternal happiness.
Obviously, God’s plan is a bit more extensive than my father’s was. And still a work in progress.
* NOTE: This post is the first in a series on the CCC, which I am launching to mark the new liturgical year (today’s the First Sunday in Advent) and also perhaps to do my small bit to evangelize in this Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict. To guide myself through the CCC, I am using the question-answer format of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (hence CCCC). I am no expert in these matters, and will try only to make some kind of personal sense of the CCC by relating it to my experience. I am dedicating this series to a dear friend, unnamed, who came this close to becoming a Catholic but bogged down on certain points in the Catechism. I hope my efforts to make sense of the CCC will help him to do the same.