DOCAT contents for At-Home Lesson#3

DOCAT# 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21 [1]

DOCAT#15 Is man called to love?

Yes, it is profoundly in keeping with human nature to be loved and to offer love. In this, God himself serves as our ideal. Jesus showed us that the very being of God is love. Between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, an eternal exchange of love takes place. A loving human being, too, has a share in this communion of love. Our life can succeed only if we do not shut ourselves off from the stream of divine love but rather open our hearts to it. Love causes us to be open to the needs of our neighbor and makes us capable of going beyond ourselves. Jesus Christ, who out of love for mankind freely sacrificed himself on the Cross, accomplished the greatest deed of love precisely by going beyond his own human life.

DOCAT#16 Is loving your neighbor something you can practice and learn?

Yes. Indeed, it is very important. Love is not only a feeling. Love is also a → VIRTUE, a power than can be trained. Becoming braver and bolder, as well as more just and more loving is a true challenge for every Christian. We must learn to look at the world from the other person’s perspective. People whom we meet with sincere goodwill sense that they are being taken seriously as persons and can express themselves freely. If we practice love when it is easy to do so, we will become, with God’s help, increasingly capable of loving even when it is painful and when we are not “loved in return”. This is the case in caring for the poorest of the poor, and it is even more true when we have to deal in a new way with our opponents: renouncing revenge, retaliation, and violence.

DOCAT#17 Is there meaning and progress in history?

Salvation, the definitive wholeness and perfect happiness that is granted to us through Jesus Christ, is not something that only a few people can attain. God wants the salvation of all mankind. This salvation liberates man in all his dimensions: as body and spirit, personally and socially, in his earthly history and forever in heaven. In history, and therefore in the time in which we find ourselves, this salvation is already dawning; however, it will be perfect only in eternity. Hence we must reject all political ideologies that promise salvation already on earth. The fact that we will find paradise only in heaven is not a consolation prize, nor is it disdain for the world. Rather, because of our hope for eternal life, we can shape the here and now in justice and love. Nothing good that we do here on earth is in vain; rather, it is taken up into the perfection of eternity.

DOCAT#18 How does a change of society come about?

The Good News of the Bible, God’s self-revelation, changes us in every respect. We acquire a new way of looking at the world and our society. All change starts in the human heart: first, the person himself must change interiorly and think and live according to God’s command; then, he can work outwardly, too. Conversion of heart, for which we must strive ever anew, is the real beginning of a better world. Only through that conversion do we recognize how institutions and systems must be changed and improved.

DOCAT#19 Why is man’s selfishness the core of every human sin?

As long as man looks at himself egotistically, he wastes away. We are made in such a way that we are not enough for ourselves. We need human community and a liberating orientation toward the meaning and source of our being, ultimately toward God. We must go out of ourselves, because we are created for love. By loving, we go beyond ourselves, toward another person and ultimately toward God. Being turned in on oneself is synonymous with sinning. Someone who does not (or cannot) love is living in self-imposed alienation. This is true also for whole societies. Where production and consumption and prolonging life come first, there will be a lack of solidarity and real humanity.

DOCAT#20 What is the Church’s task in God’s master plan?

The master plan of God’s love is the salvation and redemption of all men through his Son, Jesus Christ. The Church exists because Jesus invited us to enter into deep, saving communion with him. This communion, the “Body of Christ”, is the Church. Through baptism and the other sacraments, we belong to Christ and, through him, are endowed with a new, everlasting life. Through heeding the word of God, we obey his will. The Church is the place where we can develop in God’s love. The Church is not an end in herself. She bears responsibility for mankind and society and must by her work contribute to the peace and development of the human family.

DOCAT#21 Is the Kingdom of God already visible in the Church?

The Church exists “in order that space may be made in the world for God, so that he may dwell therein and the world may thus become his ‘Kingdom’ ” (Joseph Ratzinger). With Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God has really started in the world. Wherever the sacraments are administered, the old world of sin and death is conquered at its root and transformed. A new creation begins; the Kingdom of God becomes visible. The sacraments are only empty signs, however, if Christians do not translate the new life that has been granted them into authentic action. One cannot go to Communion and at the same time deny others their daily bread. The sacraments call us to a love that is willing “to go out of [itself] and to go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also to the existential peripheries: the mystery of sin, of suffering, of injustice, of ignorance and indifference to religion, of intellectual currents, and of all sorts of poverty” (speech by Cardinal Bergoglio in the pre-conclave, 2013).

References / Citations

[1] DOCAT: What to do? The Social Teaching of the Catholic Church. San Francisco, Calif: Ignatius Press, 2016.

[2] BibleGateway (online bible).