Fra Angelico (c. 1395–1455), “Crucifixion with Mourners and Sts Dominic and Thomas Aquinas”
In light of my being a lay Dominican, I recently had the opportunity to talk with fellow Dominicans, Fr. Raymund Snyder, O.P., and Fr. Dominic Legge, O.P., about the new "Credo" RCIA program, which is forthcoming from Saint Benedict Press. This promises to be a rewarding program, and I greatly recommend it. You can watch a trailer here. In the below interview transcript, Frs. Raymund and Dominic tell us some more about the program.
1) Why is the term "Credo" (Latin for "I believe") a bold one to proclaim in the 21st century?
Fr. Raymund: "This program is designed to put a lot of resources into the hands of catechists, and to allow them to present a clear and comprehensive account of the faith. Like the Catechism, Credo begins with the Creed."
Fr. Dominic: "If you think about the name 'Credo,' it is Latin for 'I believe.' As we know from Saint Paul, believing by faith is necessary for salvation. As Fr. Raymund just pointed out, the Creed, which lays out the fundamental truths which Christians profess, takes its name from that very word, 'Credo' - it is a profession of faith. If one is going to become Catholic, it is important to learn the truth of what has been revealed through Christ. And one needs to be able to hear that in such a way that it becomes a real option, for them to be able to say, 'I believe this.'"
2) Why is the Dominican Order, in this case represented by the Thomistic Institute, so poised to proclaim the Good News to the world?
Fr. Raymund: "Working with Saint Benedict Press on this has been rewarding. The Order of Preachers is dedicated to preaching for the salvation of souls, through many different ways. We have a robust theological tradition, of course with Saint Thomas Aquinas being part of our patrimony. The organization of the Credo program reflects the Summa Theologiae in many respects, and you see this in the table of contents."
Fr. Dominic: "From the foundation of the Dominican Order in the thirteenth century, it has been dedicated to proclaiming the Good News and articulating it in such a way that is both attractive and understandable. Our goal with Credo is to bring to bear all of the riches of the Church's intellectual tradition, to inform how we teach at a level that is accessible for the typical participants in an RCIA program. We take Saint Thomas Aquinas, as a medieval priest, philosopher, professor and theologian, as the greatest model and example of this. We try to use the principles of Aquinas' thought to proclaim the faith in a contemporary context."
3) How has the Credo RCIA program shown itself to be promising?
Fr. Raymund: "So far, Saint Benedict Press has launched an eight-minute trailer about the program while it is preparing to be launched. It is very promising. Credo is meant to be an aide and a resource to those who are teaching RCIA."
Fr. Dominic: "What we wanted to create is something that is calibrated to RCIA, is able to handle some of the more difficult topics that an RCIA program needs to cover, and can do it in a way that will also be flexible so that it can be adapted to individual parishes. There will be an ability for parishes to pick and choose what components work best within their parish settings."
4) The Dominican Order has a legendary devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. How is Mary a source of inspiration and comfort for those coming into the Catholic faith?
Fr. Raymund: "For so many converts, the Blessed Virgin Mary played a prominent role in their process of conversion. Mary has been one of the most important factors in many people's conversion to Catholicism. There are a few lessons devoted to Mary in the Credo program. We also are developing a prayer book featuring various Marian prayers as a supplement in the program."
Fr. Dominic: "A lot of people thinking about becoming Catholic might find the Catholic devotion to the Virgin Mary to be a difficult subject, or even an obstacle. We wanted to address that in a meaningful way, so there is a significant amount of material on Mary. Mary is our Mother, so she has a motherly love for us. She wants to guide us to her Son. Many of those who are becoming Catholic have developed a love for Mary, and they sense her nurturing love."
5) Why, in your experience, are people becoming Catholic even in the midst of the increasing secularization of Western society?
Fr. Raymund: "We have witnessed that, because society is becoming more fragmented, people see, for instance, the Church's moral teachings, and the authority of the Church, as a much needed guide. The fact that the Church weighs in on so many issues, and that she carries Divine Revelation, is actually a consolation. A lot of people out there are looking for the truth, and when they are exposed to an articulate explanation of the faith, they are inspired. In working with different Thomistic Institute chapters on secular college campuses, we have actually found a great hunger for the truth and been able to witness this sort of positive response in the lives of so many young people."
Fr. Dominic: "The secular culture, while it seems monolithic and powerful, is actually very fragile. In the case of individuals, the secular culture can leave them very dissatisfied and looking for something else. The secular culture does not address the existential questions that confront many. We should proclaim the faith more, and have more confidence that the Holy Spirit will make our work fruitful. The proclamation of the truth, when presented with love and with a real concern and sympathy for those whom we are addressing, leads people to be receptive with their heart. That has been so satisfying within the work of RCIA. The priests of the Thomistic Institute have been instrumental. The Credo program should be fruitful in continuing to contribute to this."