Thursday 25th August 2016

Home » Don Fier »Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Catechesis In The Twenty-First Century

October 29, 2013 Don Fier, Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

“In order to arrive at a systematic knowledge of the content of the faith, all can find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a precious and indispensable tool. It is one of the most important fruits of the Second Vatican Council.” With these words in his apostolic letter Porta Fidei announcing the upcoming Year of Faith (October 11, 2012-November 24, 2013), Pope Benedict XVI stressed the incalculable importance that the Catechism needs to play for the faithful to truly understand what our precious Catholic faith professes.
With the Holy Father’s words to serve as a fitting backdrop, this column is the introductory installment of a long-running series of articles by which The Wanderer intends to take to heart his exhortation. In an age when it might be said that there exists a “crisis in catechesis,” the plan is to go through the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) — from beginning to end — and examine and give explanation to its contents in a systematic and practical way. In other words, the goal is to provide a resource for readers to become more knowledgeable about their faith, to provide helpful insights on ways to put it into practice in their day-to-day lives, and to encourage them to spread it far and wide.
To put some perspective on the importance of this initiative, consider the following sad and telling statistics from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA): Only 20% of those who identify themselves as Catholics attend Sunday Mass every week (and only 12% on holy days of obligation); 45% never avail themselves of the Sacrament of Confession (and another 30% do so less than once per year); only 57% believe that Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. A Pew Research Center study showed that only 56% pray on a daily basis. And it’s often been reported that fallen-away Catholics, if such a religious grouping was considered to be a denomination, would be the second-largest in America.
Certainly one reason for this distressing state of affairs is the culture in which we live — one of secularism, moral relativism, and materialism where self-indulgence and immediate gratification are priorities for many if not most. Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, a zealous and faith-filled Jesuit whose cause for sainthood was opened in late 2005, succinctly described the situation as follows: “The whole moral order of once-civilized nations has been subverted. Each person’s mind is now the norm of morality, and each person’s will is at liberty to choose what he or she wants, without dependence on the mind and will of the Creator.”
Another major component of the problem, however, is the aforementioned “crisis in catechesis.” Whole generations have not been properly catechized and simply do not understand the faith of the Catholic Church. Consider the following example: An acquaintance, a young man who was raised in an ostensibly Catholic family, took a one-semester psychology course at a prestigious Midwestern university. Upon completing the class, he informed his parents that he no longer believed in the existence of God. This young man attended Catholic grade schools, CCD classes throughout high school, and served Mass at his parish on Sundays while growing up. Yet, he was able to be convinced that God does not exist by attending just one secular psychology course.
And I suspect this story is not uncommon — so many have fallen away from the practice of the faith, not grasping and understanding the “pearl of great value” (Matt. 13:45) that they so haphazardly are abandoning.
To put the Catechism of the Catholic Church in historical perspective, it came about as the result of a proposal made at the 1985 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, which was convened on the 20th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s conclusion. Pope John Paul II subsequently appointed an ad hoc commission in 1986 whose express task it was to produce the CCC. In 1992, after six years of intensive work, the Catechism appeared first in French; an English translation was published in 1994. A second edition of the CCC was published in the United States in 1997 to bring the texts of the English edition into conformity with the official Latin text.
The end result can truly be described as a “gift of love” from Almighty God to the Church. As Pope John Paul II points out in the opening line of the apostolic constitution Fidei Depositum: “Guarding the Deposit of Faith is the mission which the Lord entrusted to His Church, and which she fulfills in every age.” And, as José Cardinal Sánchez, former prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, noted, the CCC “expresses the essential and fundamental content of Catholic doctrine in faith and morals in a complete and systematic method.”
What are the primary sources for the Catechism of the Catholic Church? As pointed out in Fidei Depositum, “a catechism should faithfully and systematically present the teaching of Sacred Scripture, the living Tradition in the Church, and the authentic Magisterium, as well as the spiritual heritage of the fathers, doctors, and saints of the Church.” The CCC is certainly steeped in Sacred Scripture — in the “Index of Citations” there are more than 30 pages of biblical citations, more than 3,000 references, and quotations from Scripture. There are five pages of references from Vatican Council II documents, approximately two and one-half pages from prior ecumenical councils, and 12 pages of references to fathers, doctors, and saints of the Church. Suffice it to say, the drafting fathers of the CCC were true to their mission: The Catechism is indisputably based on Scripture, Tradition, and authentic magisterial teaching of the Church.
The CCC presentation has a fourfold structure, consistent with the way the Church has presented catechisms since her earliest days. The first part is based on the Creed and sets forth the mystery of faith — what Catholics believe. The second part primarily deals with the sacraments and the liturgy — the means by which the salvation and grace of Jesus are mediated to mankind. The basis of the third part of the CCC is the Ten Commandments — it deals with the moral law and what we must do in order to be saved. The fourth and final part deals with Christian prayer and includes a beautiful exposition of the Our Father. The text of the CCC is divided between these four parts as follows: 39% on the Creed, 23% on the Sacraments, 27% on the Commandments, and 11% on Prayer.
In undertaking this project, it is important to bear in mind Pope Benedict’s insightful teaching about reading the “signs of the times” for effective religious training: “Catechesis makes the universal message contemporary by presenting it to particular men living at a particular time.” The intent, then, is to present the CCC in a manner that speaks to the times in which we live, but without compromising the unchanging Truth that has been handed down through the ages.
An overriding principle that was emphasized in Vatican Council II, especially so in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen gentium), is the universal call to holiness. But to be holy, it is imperative that one understands what our Catholic faith demands.
That is the overriding purpose of this series of articles in The Wanderer, for it is the CCC that provides a sure guide toward that understanding. The fundamental goal here, then, is to systematically examine and explain its contents — to impart “doctrinal awareness” to readers. However, a word of caution — to truly understand what the CCC teaches requires more than speed-reading; it requires reflective, meditative reading of the actual text.
Although understanding the content of the CCC is a necessary first step, more is demanded for it to be effective: One must embrace and live what one believes. In a word, one must engage in ongoing conversion. And finally, to be true to what is being asked of us as part of the universal call to holiness is to engage in apostolic outreach — one must become part of the New Evangelization, reaching out and sharing what one has learned and embraced.
One further note to conclude this opening article. Certainly, the Catechism of the Catholic Church can stand on its own and an exposition of its actual text will be the primary content of upcoming articles. However, this track will be periodically augmented by practical segues into the lives of important saints whose words permeate the Catechism. Also, reference will be made to magisterial documents of the Church that have been released by the Holy See since the CCC was published that provide more clarity on new and emerging issues and topics.
Finally, much will be drawn from the teachings and writings of the servant of God, Fr. Hardon, who worked tirelessly as a master catechist, founding and supporting numerous apostolates to teach and spread the faith.

+ + +

(Don Fier serves on the board of directors for The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolisbased monthly publication. He is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. Fier, with the full blessing of Raymond Cardinal Burke, is doing research for writing a definitive biography of Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ. He and his wife are the parents of seven children.)

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican newspaper article: Pope’s apostolic exhortation is magisterial teaching

August 24, 2016 Writing in the Vatican newspaper, a Spanish ecclesiology professor said that Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia is part of the non-definitive ordinary Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff to which the faithful owe religious submission of intellect…Continue Reading

BREAKING: Leaked e-mails show George Soros paid $650K to influence bishops during Pope’s US visit

August 23, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Leaked emails through WikiLeaks reveal that billionaire globalist George Soros – one of Hilary Clinton’s top donors – paid $650,000 to influence Pope Francis’ September 2015 visit to the USA with a view to “shift[ing]…Continue Reading

Catholic school faculty member sues school after she’s fired for being gay

A lesbian teacher was fired from Paramus Catholic High School after administrators learned that she was married to a woman, according to her lawsuit. Kate Drumgoole, 33, was the school’s head basketball coach and dean of guidance when the school…Continue Reading

Scottish Catholic Church denies supporting ‘mandatory’ LGBT activist school program

GLASGOW, Scotland, August 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The Catholic Church in Scotland is flatly denying that it is lending its support to advancing a pro-homosexual curriculum in Catholic schools, despite secular as well as gay news sources claiming the opposite.…Continue Reading

Amid falling sales, Target responds to backlash with $20 million plan for single-stall bathrooms

target

NewsGenderThu Aug 18, 2016 – 2:57 pm EST Amid falling sales, Target responds to backlash with $20 million plan for single-stall bathrooms  #flushtarget , bathroom bills , target , transgender , transgenderism MINNEAPOLIS, August 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Facing…Continue Reading

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Signs New Book Deal with Bloomsbury

Indeed, it’s official. Bloomsbury is announcing that Pope Benedict has a new book coming in November 2016, entitled, The Last Testament. It appears to be 224 pages. Ever since Bloomsbury merged (“bought out?”) T & T Clark, they have been…Continue Reading

Transgender Bathroom Access Extended to All Federal Buildings–Including Prisons

The Obama administration is set to unveil a new regulation this week that will expand transgender people’s access to restrooms consistent with their “gender identity” to thousands of federal buildings and facilities across the country — including prisons. Buzzfeed News…Continue Reading

Satanic ‘Black Mass’ held in Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — A small group attended an event held by a satanic church in Oklahoma City Monday night. The ‘black mass’ was met with Christian masses and prayer rallies. Leaders of Oklahoma City’s Church of Ahriman set the…Continue Reading

Uplifting Story . . . Gymnast Simone Biles soars to Olympic gold while grounded in Catholic faith

olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, August 10, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — When three-time world champion gymnast Simone Biles flew to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games, the 19-year-old carried a rosary her mother gave her and a St. Sebastian medal from…Continue Reading

Satanic Black Mass Still Scheduled at Public Venue Despite Protest

Amid growing protest Satanists plan to stage a second Black Mass at the public Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City on August 15, 2016. The public sacrilege against God and the Catholic Mass will include the desecration of a…Continue Reading

Margaret Sanger Award Recipient Nancy Pelosi on Zika: ‘This is About Babies’

nancyp

(CNSNews.com) – At a Capitol Hill press conference on Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the Zika virus threat is “all about babies.” “The Zika in the Southern part of our country is in our country, and because…Continue Reading

Thousands of Colombians join nationwide protest of gender ideology in public schools

August 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Thousands marched yesterday in protests held throughout Colombia to protest a new initiative of the country’s homosexual Minister of Education to implement homosexualist and transsexualist gender ideology programs in Colombian schools. “No to gender ideology!…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Why this diocese is ditching Common Core for liberal arts

Marquette, Mich., Aug 24, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Diocese of Marquette in Michigan says it is already experiencing success in their process of adopting a Catholic liberal arts curriculum for all its schools, rather than using Common Core State Standards. The schools in the diocese previously had no set curriculum. The adoption of a classical curriculum comes at a time when two bills that would repeal and replace the Common Core State

Baton Rouge Establishes Special Flood Victims Fund

By KATHLEEN NAAB The Diocese of Baton Rouge, La., is welcoming assistance as so many thousands of people have lost homes or property and many have been killed in the massive flooding affecting the state. “The historic flooding that has taken place has impacted nearly every corner of our diocese, and our parishes and schools are struggling to recover in an effort to provide for the spiritual and educational needs of their parishioners and students,”…Continue Reading

Catholic Politician Defends Abortion, Says Catholic Church Doesn’t Think Unborn Babies are People

Minnesota state Rep. John Lesch is a Catholic and a politician in the conservative mid-west. He also supports abortions. Lesch, a board member of the pro-abortion group Catholics for Choice, wrote a column for The Hill this week explaining why he supports abortion and why other Catholic politicians should, too. “I came of age in a time when we learned to respect a woman’s conscience-based decisions, and we were more cautious of the institutional church’s…Continue Reading

New interview: Cardinal Burke says ‘I will never be part of a schism’

cburk12

August 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – In a new interview, Cardinal Raymond Burke has revealed that he and other “serious-minded” Church leaders are calling on Pope Francis to release a document correcting the confusion emanating from his recent apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia. He also decried characterizations that he is an “enemy” of Pope Francis. The cardinal says clarification of Amoris Laetitia is essential “for the sake of souls” because of the rampant confusion…Continue Reading

Life Issue Is Not Front and Center with Pennsylvania Catholics . . . Catholic voters split, perplexed by presidential choices

By Peter Smith / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette The conversation flowed freely at the school cafeteria tables as families sat Thursday over a dinner of chicken and ratatouille at Our Lady of Grace Church’s annual parish festival in Scott. But when a reporter brought up the presidential election, there was more head-shaking dismay than enthusiasm for any candidate. “I can’t see myself voting for Clinton,” said Bob Bauer. But as for Donald Trump, he’s still going “back…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred… “The Expense Is Reckoned, The Enterprise Is Begun; It Is Of God”

By JAMES MONTI The recent slaughter in odium fidei of the 85-year-old French priest Fr. Jacques Hamel on July 26 shortly after two terrorists stormed into the church where he was celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a vivid manifestation that the price for being a faithful Catholic has been rapidly escalating of…Continue Reading

Summer 1916 . . . The Second Apparition Of Angel Of Portugal

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY The previous article on this topic (April 28, 2016, p. 8A) looked at the first of the three apparitions of the Angel of Portugal, or the Angel of Peace, to the three Fatima seers, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, and Lucia dos Santos, in the spring, summer, and autumn of 1916. This…Continue Reading

ISIS And Other Useful Fictions

By JUDE P. DOUGHERTY Islamic State (ISIS or Daesh) and al-Qaeda are useful fictions. “Islamicist” is another ill-used word. Has anyone ever identified the borders of the so-called Islamic State, identified the site of its central government, attributed to it a president, prime minister, cabinet, parliament, or congress, or anything resembling such? Even the most…Continue Reading

The Real Existential Threats Of 2016

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN On September 30, the end of fiscal year 2016, the national debt is projected to reach $19.3 trillion. With spending on the four biggest budget items — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, defense — rising, and GDP growing at 1 percent, future deficits will exceed this year’s projected $600 billion. National bankruptcy,…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic… A Frontal Challenge To The Left: Taking On The Homosexual Movement

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly]. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Prepare For Eternal Life

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Wisdom 9:13-18b Phmn. 9-10, 12-17 Luke 14:25-33 In the first reading the question is asked about who can know God’s counsel or conceive what the Lord intends. We know that God’s ways are not our ways; we know that God looks into the heart while we look at…Continue Reading

Divine Mercy And Justice

By Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke Part 2 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the Consecration Weekend, The Marian Catechist Apostolate, Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, Wis., July 23, 2016. Because of its length, we are publishing it in two parts; part 1 appeared in last week’s issue. And also because…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Moral Outrages Mount While Bishops Snooze

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The U.S. bishops’ conference is a leadership disaster. Joe Biden presiding over the marital simulation ceremony of two men who work in the Obama administration was the latest unanswered provocation to assail the American portion of the Body of Christ. Vice President Biden has completely sold-out on Church teaching. He enthusiastically promoted the rainbow revolution…Continue Reading

The Marvel Of The Catholic Church . . . The Historicity Of The Old And New Testaments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 14 Is the Book of Genesis historical or simply allegorical? Many have spent hours and days and years trying to prove one view or the other, as if God our Lord left to individuals the ability to decide about it. The truth is that some things are historical and some things are allegorical and some…Continue Reading

The Baptism Of Jesus

By DON FIER Much that regards Christianity and the Catholic faith we profess to believe is prefigured in the Old Covenant; signs and shadows which prepared the way for the New Testament abound throughout the pages of the Old. And as we saw last week, this is especially true for the Sacrament of Baptism: “[In] water, seen as source of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Euphrasia Eluvathingal

By CAROLE BRESLIN In 1605 Fr. Robert De Nobili, a Jesuit priest, arrived in India to evangelize the people. He found them to have a noble bearing and a deeply spiritual life filled with fasting, prayer, and meditation. Difficulties presented themselves to him as he struggled to convert them: “If these people did not see me do such penance, they…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Joseph Of Cupertino

By CAROLE BRESLIN Now that the school year has begun, students — especially Catholic students — will find recourse to their favorite patron saint of studying. Some may choose St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine of Hippo. For those students who find it difficult to retain what they read and write about it, perhaps this saint will encourage them: St.…Continue Reading