Catechism subject of parish mission led by Cistercian monk
By KATHY SCHMUGGE
LEXINGTON — In three short days at Corpus Christi Church, Prior Luke Anderson from St. Mary’s Cistercian Priory in New Ringgold, Pa., successfully dispelled the groundless fears that keep the faithful from reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church. During the parish mission titled, “What Catholics Believe and Why,” Father Luke showed that the Catechism is not just an excellent resource for all Catholics, but that it was a study guide on how to get to heaven.
“The Catechism is the most integral and complete statement of Catholic belief. It contains the most recent treatment of current issues as they relate to our faith,” said Father Luke, who along with his good sense of humor, brought to the talks his vast knowledge. He has a bachelor’s degree from St. Louis de Montfort College in Long Island, a master’s degree in theology and philosophy from Princeton University, and another master’s degree in philosophy from St. Thomas Pontifical University (Angelican University) in Rome. He also received his doctorate in philosophy at the Angelican University and is an editor and contributor for Cistercian Publications at Western Michigan University, which provides literature that examines monastic traditions.
Usually the popular international speaker only leaves his cloistered community to give retreats for religious men and women throughout the world such as the Missionaries of Charities, the order founded by Mother Teresa. But because he is a personal friend of Corpus Christi pastor, Father Jerome Schwab, Father Luke came to the parish to share his insights about the faith to the lay community, concentrating on several major articles contained in the Apostle’s Creed as treated in the Catechism. He grouped the articles in such a way that the emphasis on Sunday was God the Father; on Monday, God the Son; and on Tuesday, God the Holy Spirit.
He did not waste any time getting to the essence of the faith by presenting “the forgiveness of sin, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting” on the first day.
“It is difficult for us, as we go through life with mortgages, college tuition and all the other distractions to see the basic meaning of life, which is that our hearts and intellect have an appetite for truth and an appetite for good,” said Father Luke, adding that nothing but God can answer that need or satisfy that appetite. He discussed how the sacraments of baptism and penance are the first steps towards God as a means for the human race to “seek good and avoid evil.”
Parishioner Jimmie Taylor was particularly struck by the priest’s discussion of the resurrected body. “I think there are many people who see themselves as angelic beings after death, but Father Luke did a good job explaining how the belief in the resurrected body is a vital teaching about a God who created the whole man, body and soul,” said Taylor.
The following talk focused on article 4 and 5 of the Creed, which dealt with the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. Anderson sees these articles as a means of mediation on God’s great love for his people.
“The crucifix is the embodied sentiment that Jesus took our place. He took on our sins, our guilt and bore our punishment,” said Father Luke, adding that human sanctity depends on imitating that sacrificial love with the help of God’s grace.
He ended with a passionate lecture on the Holy Spirit, constantly stating how “you cannot know the mystery of Christ without the Holy Spirit.” He gave personal examples of how he would try to accomplish things on his own and fail but when he relied on the help of the Holy Spirit, he found success.
“The Holy Spirit enlightens the mind and moves the will, acting through you so that you will call out, ‘Abba,'” he continued on to say that even the apostles who had been with Christ and heard all his words, needed the Holy Spirit, who came at Pentecost, to give them the courage and understanding to effectively preach the Good News. According to Father Luke, the Spirit continues to work through people today in ways that are mysterious and incomprehensible, “drawing us into intimacy with Jesus.”
In the end Father Luke hopes by highlighting these great teachings found in the Catechism, “a brilliant document written by the greatest theologians of modern time,” others will see it as “the best source material for their own personal faith,” and through the grace given by the Holy Spirit, be enlightened.