A Penny Catechism

Saturday, Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Dear M,

Once again I couldn’t remember what I had been told at Mass, except that it was beautiful.

On Saturday morning, a Sung Mass in Latin at the Cathedral – the best of the week. Then a funny thing happened. Out of the mess in our house, objects occasionally surface for no apparent reason. After years of burial under other items, today a penny catechism emerged from my childhood. It had my name written in childish letters on the front. The newspaper was, as usual, so depressing that I started reading the catechism instead. I found this question and answer:

“6. What do you mean when you say that your soul is immortal?
When I say my soul is immortal, I mean that my soul can never die.”

Quite suddenly at that moment I believed. I believed I believed because in the past I had doubted I could survive death, but of course I can’t survive death, I am going to die but my soul is separate in a way I never understood before. It is not me and never has been: that is the me of the domineering body.

I knew this because I was reading the question and answer with an earlier one:

“4 & 5. Is this likeness to God in your body or in your soul?
My soul is like to God because it is a spirit and is immortal.”

This question and answer made sense of something that I had never quite accepted before:

“3. To whose image and likeness did God create?
God made me in his own image and likeness. This likeness to God is chiefly in my soul.”

We then, the people who walk this earth, are transitory and bear the image and likeness of God. But maybe – and ponder this and let it give you hope that our soul does, because only in our soul are we like God in any real way – this likeness to God is chiefly in my soul.