The moment is irrevocably etched into my memory. It wasn’t very long ago -- embarrassingly recent, really, though I’ll only admit that in those rare moments when I’m not feeling particularly prideful. Perhaps it was the weight of the discovery that resulted in that particularly recent (but, you know, not really that recent) afternoon being lodged within me. More likely it was because the sun was piercing through the chapel windows, complimenting whatever chemicals of joy were being pumped into my brain.
Ah, yes, the day I finally accepted that Jesus thirsted for me.
I’m well aware of the fact that as a 24-year-old Catholic living in these United States, I am not alone in having a rather profound experience praying through Fr. Michael Gaitley’s moving, challenging, sometimes-a-bit-too-girly Consoling the Heart of Jesus. (What? You don’t know what I’m-- just buy it then.) Of the myriad wisdom-nuggets gifted us from Fr. Gaitley I now keep handy in the corner of my mind labeled “GREG GO TO THE CHAPEL TURN OFF NETFLIX,” the one that repeatedly results in me actually leaving the couch/bar stool is the parched mouth of Jesus.
Somewhat humorously, it wasn’t Gaitley himself but a citation tucked away in the footnotes that bruised and battered my carefully-constructed pride that day. Quoting Mother Teresa, it read: "'I thirst' is something much deeper than just Jesus saying 'I love you.' Until you know deep inside that Jesus thirsts for you – you can’t begin to know who He wants to be for you. Or who He wants you to be for Him.'"
Upon completing the book, I was filled with gratitude. My prayer-life had become a barren wasteland, a void in my otherwise hectic daily routine; It was a now a wellspring of joy and peace. How fortunate I was that my friend recommended this book! How fortunate I was that I had read it sooner than later! How happy I was that my probably neurotic and totally diagnosable obsession with comprehensiveness forced me to read the endnotes and come across that Mother Teresa quote that would leave an indelible mark on my prayer life! Jesus thirsts for me, and this thirst is the origin and impetus for personal prayer.
Two months later, I cracked open my catechism for the first time in (at least) a year, and I felt like an absolute fool. This is part of the providence of the Father: to allow us to naively rejoice in the idea of novelty, so we may later perceive the ancient and eternal wisdom of Mother Church.
I let out a good laugh when I turned to the 4th pillar.
CCC 2560, the third paragraph of the pillar, plainly states: “Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God's desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.”
From there, the Catechism delves into the questions of what prayer is and how to go about it. It’s shockingly beautiful.
My embarrassment over my ignorance of this litte-talked-about gem that is the 4th pillar quickly vanished, however, upon more serious reflection. The official dossier (yes, dossier, how hilarious is that) released alongside the Catechism in 1992 states that the Catechism is intended primarily for Bishops, priests, and catechists: that is, what the Church calls the Catechismus maior (major). Their job is to take the CCC and present it in a manner suitable for the palate of their audience, the Catechismus minor.
Knowingly or not, incredible writers such as Fr. Gaitley have taken a primary theme of the Catechism’s teaching on prayer and presented it in remarkable fashion for the Catechismus Minor. This has to be the goal of every teacher of the faith, of every catechist. To a certain extent this is the goal of this blog. We are not here to put forward our own young/contemporary/hip/etc./ad nauseum perspective of the Faith, but rather to make known and make possible conversation regarding the immense riches that lie within the Catechism’s pages, for we have personally received remarkable inspiration, joy, hope, knowledge, and confidence from our own engagement with the text.
In spite of the profundity of certain portions of the CCC, the Catechism can be tough to read at times. It can come off as dry and monotonous. We get it. The Catechism is a symphony for the “C-Major”, written in C-Major. We here at RC hope to simply echo this song: not for the bishops, priests, and catechists, but for our peers.
Our song is in C-minor.
Greg Hurst is from Dedham, MA. When he's not serving up a master espresso he's reading Pope Benedict. @gchurst
Article Photo by Anthony Luco