Wednesday 18th July 2018

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

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter Elects New Superior General

LINCOLN, Neb. — The general chapter of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a society of apostolic life that celebrates the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, Monday elected Father Andrzej Komorowski as its next superior general. The July 9…Continue Reading

Catholic-heavy Supreme Court moves right as the church moves left

(RNS) — With his nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, President Trump has succeeded in doing for the judicial branch what he has often failed or neglected to do in his administration: acting efficiently…Continue Reading

Election of the Superior General . . . Society of Saint Pius X

Election of the Superior General On July 11, 2018, Father Davide Pagliarani was elected Superior General, for a mandate of 12 years, by the 4th General Chapter of the Society of Saint Pius X. The new Superior General is 47…Continue Reading

Paradoxes and indicators of Capella’s and McCarrick’s cases

These days we will find out whether Monsignor Carlo Alberto Capella, the former advisor to the Washington nunciature that the Vatican sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for possession and distribution of “large quantities” of child pornography, will present an appeal…Continue Reading

Diocese led by pro-gay bishop says it’s ‘up to each parish’ whether to promote homosexuality

LEXINGTON, Kentucky, July 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A Catholic church in the heart of Appalachia has attracted media attention for the Gay Pride Month banner stretched across its front lawn. The local ordinary, Bishop John Stowe, has a record of collaborating with a…Continue Reading

Al Gore: Pope Francis a ‘moral force’ for solving climate crisis

(Vatican.news) Nobel Peace Prize Winner and former U.S. Vice President, Al Gore, is one of the world’s most vocal defenders of the environment. His 2007 documentary film, “An Inconvenient Truth”, won an Oscar and his Climate Reality Project recently hosted…Continue Reading

Catholic bishops heading to border to tackle family separation issues

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — A delegation of Catholic bishops from across the country are heading to the border on Monday. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will lead the delegation in its visit to the…Continue Reading

Catholic Church teaching on homosexuality ‘evil’, McAleese says

The Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality is “evil”, former president Mary McAleese has said. Speaking ahead of her inaugural participation in the Dublin Pride event on Saturday, where she will march with her son Justin and his husband, the former…Continue Reading

Senate Will Vote Before Elections on Replacing Pro-Abortion Justice Anthony Kennedy

The United States Senate will vote before the elections this November on a replacement for pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made that announcement today shortly after the surprising but welcome announcement that the longtime abortion…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke, Bishop Schneider respond to Pope Francis’ inflight intercommunion comments

ROME, June 27, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The reception of Holy Communion in the Catholic Church — even in exceptional cases — by a Protestant or other non-Catholic constitutes a “lie” that betrays the Apostolic tradition and the Church’s constant practice…Continue Reading

German Bishops Publish Intercommunion Handout with a Rhetorical Trick

Today, the German bishops have published their very controversial pastoral handout which allows Protestant spouses of Catholics, in certain cases, to receive Holy Communion. Since Pope Francis, on 21 June, objected to a national bishops’ conference publishing such an official text, the…Continue Reading

Vikings host ‘LGBTQ summit’ to promote ‘inclusion’ in sports

EAGAN, Minnesota, June 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Minnesota Vikings are hosting a conference and fundraiser today for “LGBTQ inclusion in sports,” the first of its kind in the National Football League (NFL). The event will include speeches, interviews, and…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  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 150 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

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

British pro-lifers say abortion clinic ‘buffer zones’ harm women and children

London, England, Jul 12, 2018 / 12:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After a decision from the United Kingdom’s High Court, two women are attempting to overturn a ban on prayer and public discussion of abortion near a British abortion clinic. On July 2, the High Court of England and Wales upheld a “buffer zone” imposed by Ealing Council, west London, around a Marie Stopes abortion clinic. The zone prevents any pro-life gathering or speech, inc

Calligraphers face jail time for not promoting same-sex ‘weddings’

PHOENIX, Arizona, July 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Two Arizona calligraphy artists faced with fines and jail time for declining to take part in promoting gay “weddings” are asking the state’s Supreme Court to hear their challenge to the city of Phoenix’s law that compels them create artwork that violates their religious beliefs. Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of Brush & Nib Studio, face up to six months in jail, $2,500 in fines, and three

Bishop Paprocki disagrees with US bishops’ support for unions that fund abortion, LGBT

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, July 11, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – Hailed by free speech and religious liberty advocates alike, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled that public sector employees can no longer be required to pay mandatory fees to support unions which promote causes and political activities – including abortion – to which they are opposed. The ruling has also exposed a significant rift among the nation’s Catholic bishops. Despite public sector unions’ unabashe

Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 9, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Brett Kavanaugh is Donald Trump’s choice to succeed the pro-abortion, pro-gay Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court, the president announced Monday night. Trump praised Kavanaugh’s committment to “equal justice under the law” and called him a “brilliant jurist with a clear and effective writing style.” He is “universally regarded as…one of the finest legal minds of our time.” Kavanaugh formerly clerked for Kennedy. “Justice Kennedy devoted his career to…Continue Reading

Prof fired by Catholic university for defending marriage has huge court win

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin, July 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The professor forced out by a Jesuit-run Catholic university for blogging about an undergrad student being assailed by his teacher for his having voiced defense of marriage has won in court. In a landmark decision Friday the Wisconsin Supreme Court said Marquette University violated John McAdams’ right to free speech when it suspended him for writing the blog post, and it ordered the University to restore McAdams immediately with his full rank,…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic … Old And New Tyrannies Borne Of Lust

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

A Book Review… What Man Does Not Reverence, He Will Profane

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN Society and Sanity, by Frank Sheed (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2013), 261 pp. $17.95. Available from www.ignatius.com or at 1-800-651-1531. This new edition of Sheed’s 1953 classic work of apologetics brings to mind the famous myth of Procrustes’ bed. The wicked king captures his victims then tortures them if their legs do…Continue Reading

How Vice Can Absorb Virtue

By DONALD DeMARCO Just as the Devil is at war with God, so too, vices are at war with virtue. The Devil wants people to believe that God does not exist. He also wants people to believe that neither does virtue exist. He would like to demolish virtue. One way of achieving this is to…Continue Reading

Henan, China… New Limits Imposed On The Religious Freedom Of Catholics

BEIJING (AsiaNews) — The Chinese government is approving increasingly restrictive measures against Catholics in the central province of Henan. As Eglises d’Asie reports, five new rules have been imposed which include the requirement of religious working in the province to collect data and information on their faithful. A priest from the Diocese of Zhengzhou reports…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Solzhenitsyn Remembered

By JUDE DOUGHERTY Congdon, Lee. Solzhenitsyn: The Historical-Spiritual Destinies of Russia and the West. DeKalb, Ill.: NIV Press, 2017; 163 pp. This book is descriptive of the prophetic voice of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008), who was convinced that the West has set out on a road similar to that which “led Russia into the abyss.” Solzhenitsyn…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Sheep Without A Shepherd

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Sixteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Jer. 23:1-6 Eph. 2:13-18 Mark 6:30-34 In the first reading today, God speaks a word of woe through the Prophet Jeremiah to the shepherds who mislead the Lord’s flock entrusted to their care. God says that these shepherds scattered the flock and drove them away and did not…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . In Death The Church Gives Everything

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Funerals, as many priests have learned, can often be pastorally challenging and problematic episodes. Grieving family members who are not dealing with death on a regular basis by practicing their faith are suddenly confronted with its reality upon the passing of a parent or other family member. Parents who have to bury a child sometimes…Continue Reading

Martin Luther… The Man And The Myth

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 2 (Editor’s Note: As this October marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Raymond de Souza is taking a break from his usual apologetics to correct the popular image of Luther.) + + + In the last article, I quoted from…Continue Reading

The Anatomy Of A Moral Act

By DON FIER Last week, as we considered the role that human freedom plays in the economy of salvation, it was immediately acknowledged that “man’s freedom is limited and fallible” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 1739). Free will, so wondrously bestowed upon man as an essential element of his great dignity of being created “in the image and…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. What can one say to a teenage daughter or granddaughter who wears skimpy bathing suits? I know that is the “style” these days, but it seems wrong for many reasons. — M.M., Virginia. A. When our five daughters were teens, my wife and I ruled out the wearing of skimpy bathing suits, as well as skin-tight jeans or shorts…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Veronica Giuliani

By CAROLE BRESLIN In July, the month of the Precious Blood, the Catholic Church remembers saints by the name of Veronica. On July 12, the memorial of Veronica (meaning “true image”), the saint from the first century who presented her veil to wipe the face of Jesus, is celebrated. Three days before that, on July 9, St. Veronica Giuliani is…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

By CAROLE BRESLIN Our Lord had a special love for the poor when He walked this earth. At one time He rebuked one of the apostles, saying, “The poor you will always have with you” (Matt. 26:11). Rather than avoiding the destitute or shun the homeless, Christians are called to love them as we love ourselves. At the beginning of…Continue Reading