February 25, 2022

Ken’s 12-Pack / Ken Ogorek

Things most Catholics wish they knew better: Bad dads and our heavenly Father

Ken Ogorek

Second in a yearlong catechetical series

“I never got along with my dad.”

Sadly, not everyone is blessed with a loving, caring, nurturing father. The words Dad or Father for some folks don’t evoke good feelings.

Religion textbooks in the 1970s and 1980s tended to shy away from masculine references to the first person of the Most Holy Trinity. Unintended consequences followed.

A spiritual being

There was a time long, long ago when the only person, place or thing who existed was the Creator of every person, place and thing. The Creator is a spiritual being.

Our Creator reveals himself primarily—not exclusively—as Father. Why? Maybe because none of us knows a disembodied, genderless human person. We know and can relate to women and men, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, moms and dads.

Jesus, who on rare occasions uses maternal imagery when mentioning the first person of the Trinity, more often than not refers to his Father—and to our Father. Jesus goes so far as to use words like Abba (Dad) in encouraging us to relate to God as the kindest, most loving father we can imagine.

Downplaying the Trinity

Ken's 12-Pack: Things most Catholics wish they knew better In using gender-neutral words to name the first person of the Holy Trinity, catechetical authors contributed to confusion about who Jesus is and proved deficient in presenting the Trinity as the central mystery of Christian faith.

As a result, many adult Catholics are unclear on the significance of God revealing himself—due to his great love for us—as three persons while remaining One: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

While it’s beyond the scope of a brief column to flesh out why the Trinity is so important, here are a few thoughts:

• Most folks can figure out, using basic human reason, that a Creator exists. God loves you so much, though, that he wants you to know him in a way only possible via his loving self-disclosure.

• The Most Holy Trinity is a communion—a small community—of love. Not only are we called to participate in this divine communion of love, the Trinity reveals to us who we are: beloved children of God called to live not only in loving communion with him, but also in community with our neighbor.

• The fact that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit helps make several additional doctrinal and moral teachings of his holy, Catholic Church make sense. For example, we baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit precisely because Jesus commands us to do so—Jesus, who is the Son of the Father, inviting us to new life in the Spirit.

Interesting but odd facts about God

The fact that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit isn’t a mere curiosity. It’s an important reality for us to acknowledge as we strive for happiness on Earth and eternal joy in heaven. Thankfully, we have the Catechism of the Catholic Church and related resources to shore up the deficiencies of religious education—unintended, maybe—from the late 1960s through the early 1990s.

Tune in to next month’s installment of “Ken’s 12-Pack” for additional clarity on a basic doctrinal or moral teaching of our Catholic faith—revealed truth meant to help us have a disciple relationship with the authentic Jesus of sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition.

(Ken Ogorek, archdiocesan director of catechesis, has lost his six-pack abs. But his 12-part series, whose theme is: Things Most Catholics Wish They Knew Better, will run through December. He can be reached at his archdiocesan e-mail address kogorek@archindy.org or by using the contact information at www.kenogorek.com.)

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