Friday 21st September 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.

Twitter Feed

Load More...

Yet another US bishop calls for Youth Synod to be canceled so Church can ‘deal with abuse crisis’

TYLER, Texas, September 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A Texas bishop has called for the Youth Synod to be canceled in light of the ongoing scandal regarding the cover-up of episcopal sexual abuse of minors and seminarians. On September 8, Bishop…Continue Reading

ATLANTA ARCHBISHOP WILTON GREGORY INVITES HOMOSEXUALIST FR. JAMES MARTIN TO SPEAK

ATLANTA (ChurchMilitant.com) – Celebrity Jesuit Fr. James Martin is heading to Georgia, courtesy of pro-gay Abp. Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, Georgia. On Friday, Martin announced on Twitter that Abp. Gregory has invited him to speak in October at two Atlanta-area locations.…Continue Reading

Leaked sex abuse report rocks German church, 3,677 victims

September 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Two German major media outlets – Der Spiegel and Die Zeit – leaked today the findings of a sexual abuse commission funded by the German Bishops’ Conference and which Cardinal Reinhard Marx had planned to present to the public…Continue Reading

US bishops’ president accused of allowing reported sex abuser access to kids

September 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, has been accused of allowing a priest who confessed to sex abuse of a minor to function as a pastor of a parish,…Continue Reading

Cdl. Cupich on abuse crisis: We shouldn’t be ‘distracted’ by this, Church has ‘bigger agenda’

CHICAGO, September 10, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – When challenged about the clergy sexual abuse scandal now facing the Church, Cardinal Blase Cupich told a large gathering of seminarians that the Church’s agenda is “bigger” than the sexual corruption now facing the…Continue Reading

Catholic prelates must speak out, now, as the faithful are attacked by their own shepherds

September 4, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The following reflection is the result of a couple of days of my reading and thinking about the last five years, but then also about the last fifty years. Trying to get an interview with…Continue Reading

Oklahoma archbishop: I’ve ‘deepest respect’ for Viganó. His claims demand ‘deeper examination’

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma, August 31, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley has issued a statement saying he has the “deepest respect” for Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó and his “integrity.” Some on the left have attempted to cast doubt…Continue Reading

One Mad Mom . . . Martin’s Cozy with Proximate Occasions of Sin

Let me say this, I am a mom of a multitude of kids and have spent their lives trying to ensure their safety and well-being.  I have THE biggest stake with what’s been going on in the Church for decades. …Continue Reading

Thousands of Catholic women ask Pope: Did you cover-up for McCarrick, as Viganò claims?

August 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A group of prominent Catholic women have written an open letter to Pope Francis imploring him to provide clarity on the “escalating” sex abuse crisis currently “engulfing” the Church. Expressing anger, betrayal, and heartbreak, the women bluntly…Continue Reading

Ave Maria University president slams Viganò, Cardinal Burke

AVE MARIA, Florida, August 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Citing the “God of Surprises,” the president of a Roman Catholic University once known for its orthodoxy has slammed two faithful prelates for their challenges to the Pope, particularly in regard to…Continue Reading

Pope handpicks US cardinal enmeshed in McCarrick scandal as youth synod delegate

August 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis has named Cardinal Joseph Tobin, a prelate who former papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Viganò has testified owes his rise to power to disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, as a delegate to the October synod on…Continue Reading

U.S. bishop disappointed with Pope’s ‘no comment’ answer on sex-abuse cover-up

MADISON, Wisconsin, August 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Robert Morlino vouched for the integrity of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, joining a growing chorus of faithful prelates who have expressed support for the former papal nuncio’s astounding testimony pointing to Pope Francis and other high-ranking…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 . . .

US bishops’ silence on meeting with Pope could put their credibility on sex abuse at risk

ROME, September 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Have the jocular images and low-key statements of US Bishops following their meeting with Pope Francis last week set back their attempts to address the grave situation in the Church, especially the handling of sexual abuse cases by bishops? The details that have been revealed of the bishops’ meeting with Francis last Thursday give no indication that they addressed the extent of the McCarrick coverup or the need for…Continue Reading

Cardinal Maradiaga rebukes papal critics: McCarrick abuse scandal ‘of a private order’

September 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The scandal of ex-Cardinal McCarrick’s homosexual abuse of young priests and seminarians and Pope Francis’ alleged cover-up are “of a private order,” and a merely “administrative affair,” according to one of the Pope’s top advisers, Cardinal Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga. He made these remarks in a recent interview in one of the most revealing statements to date on the Viganò testimony. In an interview published on Wednesday evening by Religion Digital, the religious portal…Continue Reading

Dutch Catholic church accused of widespread sexual abuse cover-up

More than half of the Netherlands’ senior clerics were involved in covering up sexual assault of children between 1945 and 2010, a press report claimed on Saturday, further engulfing the Catholic church in a global abuse scandal. Over the course of 65 years, 20 of 39 Dutch cardinals, bishops and their auxiliaries “covered up sexual abuse, allowing the perpetrators to cause many more victims”, the daily NRC reported. “Four abused children and 16 oth

Steve Bannon Drafting Curriculum for Right-Wing Catholic Institute in Italy

(Reuters) – Former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon is helping to craft the curriculum for a leadership course at a right-wing Roman Catholic institute in Italy, stepping up his efforts to influence conservative thinking in the church. Benjamin Harnwell, director of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute based in a mountaintop monastery not far from Rome, told Reuters Bannon had been helping to build up the institute for about half of its eight-year life. Cardinal Raymond…Continue Reading

China, Vatican ‘May Sign Deal’ on Chinese Catholics, Bishops: Taiwan

Beijing and the Vatican are on the verge of an agreement on the status of China’s Catholic Church and the controversial appointment of bishops by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, reports indicate. A report in the Wall Street Journal on Friday cited two people close to negotiations as saying that a deal was very close. In Taipei, Taiwan foreign affairs spokesman Li Hsien-chang said the democratic island’s officials had a similar understanding of the situation.…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Solzhenitsyn: Truth Is Light

By DONALD DeMARCO Without the truth we are in the dark, not knowing how to think, judge, act, or live. Please tell us the truth. Please dispel the darkness. Readers of The Wanderer will understand my plea without my needing to divulge names. We do, as Marshall McLuhan explained to us, live in a global…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . Skewed Ideas About Education And Minority Groups

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

Is Trump Going Neocon In Syria?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Is President Donald Trump about to intervene militarily in the Syrian civil war? For that is what he and his advisers seem to be signaling. The past week, Trump said of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s campaign to recapture the last stronghold of the rebellion, Idlib province: “If it’s a slaughter, the…Continue Reading

Pro-Lifer… Arizona Governor Names Successor To Fill McCain’s Seat

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — With its own strange brand of politics, Arizona acquired a new U.S. senator who agreed to fill the upper-chamber seat for at least a few months. Huh? With the late John McCain’s health slipping away for more than a year to an aggressive brain cancer, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey had…Continue Reading

A Book Review… GKC: The Wonder Of The Child And The Mysteries Of Faith

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN The Autobiography of G.K. Chesterton (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2006), 336 pp. $16.95. Available through www.ignatius.com or 1-800-651-1531. A great writer’s past, family background, and the formative influences of childhood always evoke great human interest. In narrating the story of his life, Chesterton naturally begins with his family background and the lives…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

HLI’s Mission To Mongolia… There Are Setbacks, But The Church Continues

By FR. SHENAN BOQUET (Editor’s Note: Fr. Shenan Boquet is the president of Human Life International. This commentary first appeared September 3 at HLI.org and was reprinted by LifeSiteNews.com. All rights reserved.) + + + “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in…Continue Reading

True Wisdom From Above

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Wisdom 2:12, 17-20 James 3:16-4:3 Mark 9:30-37 In the second reading today, St. James tells us that where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. As we look around, we can certainly see an abundance of disorder and foul practices. To eliminate these…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Why Evangelists Need An Interior Life

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Spiritual Handbook for Catholic Evangelists: How to Win Souls Without Losing Your Own, by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard (Sophia Institute Press, 192 pages, Amazon paperback and Kindle). This is a new version of an old spiritual classic, originally written about a century ago, but still valid for today’s Church, and particularly for those involved in evangelization. The…Continue Reading

The Sacrament Of Confession… Confession Among The Early Christians

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 4 Here are some more testimonies from the Early Christians about the Sacrament of Confession, how they understood the sacrament and how it was administered by the priests to the people when they sinned. Those writers are known in history as the Fathers of the Early Church, the theologians and Bible scholars of the…Continue Reading

The Cardinal Virtues — Prudence

By DON FIER In beginning our consideration of the virtues last week, we saw that the word virtue, in general, can be defined as “a firm and habitual disposition to do good. It allows a person not only to perform good actions,” explains Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, “but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Servant of God Rozalia Celak

By CAROLE BRESLIN The closer one comes to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the hotter the flame, as many saints have attested. St. Catherine of Siena bore the marks in her heart where the arrow of Christ’s love pierced it. With the flame of the burning love, the Sacred Heart touches those whom He loves in a special way. To…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Our Lady Of Mount Carmel

By CAROLE BRESLIN In northern Israel between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea, a mountain range stretches inland. This range, although named Mount Carmel, is really a series of mountains stretching inland. The main site of the Mount, the Stella Maris monastery of the Discalced Carmelites, sits on a limestone bluff overlooking the city of Haifa. The view…Continue Reading