The French proverb, “The more things change the more they stay the same,” seems to be very appropriate for the hugely popular show on PBS of the post-Edwardian era in England, Downton Abbey. Something that struck me about a recent episode is that the quest for happiness can often lead one away from the very thing one is searching for. Lady Edith Crawley allows herself to be swept up into a romance with Michael Gregson, whose wife is considered insane, but British law will not allow him to divorce (presuming he has every right to do so). He’s going to great lengths to prove his love to Lady Edith by becoming a German citizen so he can divorce his wife and marry her. This example is just one among so many others of how we can distort truth. The world back then and now too often sees fidelity in marriage to be good so long as your wife is not, as in the case of Mrs. Gregson, insane (or a number of other reasons).
3 catechetical points that are vital to catechesis in the Third Millennium:
1. Proclaiming the truth (whether on the issue of marriage or another aspect of life) is essential to the freedom of God’s children. Sometimes the truth is seen as judgmental because it challenges one’s freedom and what is often socially acceptable (although not morally acceptable).
2. Keep in mind that catechesis on “Life in Christ” is not merely “morality” but about life with God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1691, says:
“Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.” [St. Leo the Great Sermo 22 in nat. Dom., 3: PL 54, 192C] 
3. Let your message be clear. Paragraph 1697 of the Catechism goes onto say that “Catechesis has to reveal in all clarity the joy and the demands of the way of Christ.” The demands of being a doctor, a professional sports player, or a renowned scientist are quite high and so also are the demands of the Christian life (which so often we can resist because it is perceived that a loving God should help make our lives good and happy). The Christian life, although having its challenges, is filled with abundant joy, peace beyond understanding, transforming grace, and total charity, which brings authentic freedom and true happiness.
The life we’ve been given is a true gift even with all it’s demands. May our eyes and heart always look to Christ for the ultimate answers that allow us to respond according to the truth of the Gospel and all that entails.
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