So often I hear the comment, “I have not read a catechism since I was a small child.” And usually that comment comes from someone in retirement with their grandchildren already grown. This was an indication to me that many people today are not familiar with the Catechism of the Catholic Church published in 1992.
In a response to the lack of catechesis following the Second Vatican Council and a request by the bishops of the United States, Pope John Paul II established a worldwide commission of cardinals and bishops to create, and contribute to the formulation of a Catechism that encompassed all the truths of our Catholic Faith. The result was the publication of the Catechism. The other catechism printed was a result of the Council of Trent, known to many as the Baltimore Catechism.
During this year of faith, our Holy Father asked us to study the Catechism and delve more deeply into our Catholic Faith, to better practice and witness to our beliefs. Our reflections this year will highlight the wonderful text.
Why the Catechism?
Looking back on the Second Vatican Council, “the principal task entrusted to the Council was to guard and present better the precious deposit of Christian doctrine, in order to make it more accessible to the Christian faithful and to all people of good will.” (Fidei Depositum) But because some of the council documents have been interpreted in different ways, it became apparent that an authoritative compendium of the faith was not only desirable but necessary. (The Catholic Way, Bishop Donald Wuerl) At the Synod of Bishops in 1985, it was proposed that a new compendium of the faith be drawn up in light of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. This new catechism would function as a norm for all catechetical teachings.
The catechism, although not officially infallible, turns to “the teaching of Sacred Scripture, the living tradition in the Church and the authentic magisterium as well as the spiritual heritage of the Fathers and the saints of the Church” (Fidei Depositum 3)
Its foundation rests on the teachings of Jesus Christ. These teachings are contained in Scripture, and the living tradition of the Church. They are articulated by the magisterium, the teaching office of the bishops, and are found in the writings of the Fathers of the Church, and the saints who have lived out their faith in loving response to the will of God.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is designed for everyone. For Bishops, to have an authentic source of the faith, so they can gauge all catechetical efforts in their diocese. For priests and religious who are actively engaged in the formation of the faithful. And for each one of us, individually, to become better acquainted with the truths of our faith, so we can share them with others.
Each week on this blog, you will find some reflections on one of the truths of our faith found in the Catechism. Stay tuned.
If you are in our area, you are welcome to join us every Wednesday morning for a class and discussion from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.