Mar 31, 2011

Read the Catechism!

Blessed John Paul the Great considered one of his greatest achievements as Pope to be the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This book (document) is a complete summary of the essentials of our Catholic faith! It contains four sections:

Section 1: The Profession of the Faith (What we believe)
Section 2: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery (Our Liturgy, especially in the Sacraments)
Section 3: Life in Christ (How we live as Christians)
Section 4: Christian Prayer (How we pray)

This is a very important book for a number of reasons. For one, it makes it easier for any Catholic (or non) to access the complete Faith in one place. It would take a lifetime to access our faith in its entirety if it were not in summary form. A second extremely important aspect of this work is that it promotes unity and clarity in our Church. Truth is not relative. It has been revealed to us by God in the flesh, and entrusted to the Apostles for safeguarding until the end of the world. The Catechism helps to ensure that everyone has access to this truth, and can be joined together in unity with it.

The Catechism, however, can be a tough read for many. This is especially true if one does not have a strong background in the Catholic Faith. If this is the case, here are a few things that could help:

First, every major theme in the Catechism is followed by an "In Brief" section. So for example, let's say one wants to learn about the Third Commandment: "Keep Holy the Sabbath." One can read the full 21 paragraphs the Catechism has on it, or simply skip to the "In Brief:" section which only has 7 (and most of these are just one sentence). Click here for the complete Catechism online.

Another great option available to make the Catechism more readable is a work called The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This small book has everything the Catechism has, but in a much shorter dialogue format (every paragraph is an answer to a question that titles it). Click here for the Compendium online.

Another amazing catechism that recently came out is called the YOUCAT (short for Youth Catechism). Pictures, quotes, definitions, and Bible verses are a few features that make this Catechism accessible and engaging to teenagers and young adults. Click here for a preview.