The Personal Catechism project is structured like a book, with introductory materials (this page) and several chapters. Each chapter introduces several “ideals”, which I have discovered in my life. These are usually optimal ways of doing some task that make me a better Catholic. Each ideal represents a rule I try to follow. It is an ideal though.
I try to meet all of the ideals, but at any single moment I am not following all of them. There is a constant fluctuation. Maybe at a bad part of my life I am only meeting 30% of the ideals, but maybe at a good part of my life, I am meeting 80% of the ideals. These ideals are where I want to be, but progress is not guaranteed due to my own weakness. Under each ideal is a paragraph or two to explain my reasoning behind that ideal.
The inspiration for this structure comes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Each rule to follow has a unique number, with the basic instruction to follow, and then, several sentences with more detail on why this rule needs to be followed. These ideals I write are not hard rules everyone needs to follow. They are ideals that fit very well with the unique set of traits given to me by God. All of my ideals fit within the rules of the Church, but there are infinitely more ways to be a good Catholic. My Personal Catechism does not replace the official Catechism. Rather, these ideals extend the official Catechism to include more rules that I believe will bring me to holiness.
Difference between Goals and Ideals
When I was writing, it was sometimes confusing to me which things were ideals and which things were goals. It is perfectly fine to have goals, but those are not the same as ideals. I am more interested in my ideals for this book. A goal is a one time thing. I make plans for it, finish it, and then move on to other goals. Ideals are not one time. They are like a job. I have to work on them every day. Some days I do a great job; other days I do a bad job. The key is that I am always trying to get better. I guess ideals could be considered recurring goals. They may be daily, weekly, or some other frequency. Each day, for example, I have that goal that I strive to complete, but I never complete it for good. The next day I have the same goal again.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Optimizing Catholicism
This part contains all of the ideals related to practice of the faith. The four chapters are inspired by Matthew Kelly’s Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. I have renamed them to fit better with my theme. They represent the four areas of spiritual work that all Catholics are called to by God.
Part 2: Optimizing Life
This part contains all of the ideals related to basic living. They are not strictly Catholic, but we are called to apply our faith to all aspects of our lives. Our religion is not something we simply add on to our existing life. Instead, we order our whole life around it. For example, everyone works, but Catholics approach it differently based on our faith.