One step the church took to foster the work of the 2nd Vatican Council was to create a catechism incorporating its teachings, and so it gave us in 1992 The Catechism of the Catholic Church. At the same time, bishops throughout the world were urged to create catechisms for their own nations and peoples, and so in the United States we have the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults. (2006)
For one thing, the title of our national catechism reminds us that learning about our faith is not something only children do, but adults as well. Learning our faith goes on through our whole lives. This catechism is used frequently now to prepare teachers in religious education programs and in groups for adult formation.
An interesting feature of this catechism is its incorporation of stories of saints and important Catholic figures as guides for living the faith. They’re mostly American saints and figures, who lived in our time and shaped our church and our society. They are not presented in the catechism only as people we pray to, but as men and women who “from their place in heaven guide us still.”
The story of St. Elizabeth Seton, for example, is the first story in the catechism. She shows us what it means to search for God–the first subject taken up by the catechism. “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because we are created by God and for God.”
As a lonely child, she was attracted to God early on in the beauty of creation: she experienced God in a rich life of friendships and marriage. She knew the darkness of sickness and disappointment that also influences the search for God. She had a deep love for Jesus Christ and a dedication to the poor. Love guided her in choosing the Catholic Church and undertaking the care and teaching of children. Finally, she founded a new religious community in the church, the Sisters of Charity.
In a marvelous way, she reveals the paths we must take in our search for God.
The prayer for her feast, January 4th, recalls “her burning zeal” to find God and asks that “we may always seek you in daily service with sincere faith.” Elizabeth Seton’s search was a daily search, a “daily service with sincere faith.“ We pray our search be like hers.