Tuesday 28th February 2017

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

Catechism Of the Catholic Church: Prologue

November 5, 2013 Don Fier, Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

“Father, . . . this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). This Scripture verse, the opening words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), succinctly and beautifully expresses its very purpose. The CCC’s first paragraph goes on to expand on this teaching of Jesus Christ: “God, . . . in a plan of sheer goodness, freely created man to make him share in His own blessed life. . . . He calls man to seek Him, to know Him, to love Him with all his strength. To accomplish this, . . . God sent His Son as Redeemer and Savior.”
Recalling my childhood religious formation in the late 1950s and early 1960s, I was reminded of three opening questions and answers in the Baltimore Catechism, the de facto standard Catholic religious education text for children in the United States from 1885 until the 1960s: Why did God make us? “. . . to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in Heaven.” What must we do to gain the happiness of Heaven? “. . . we must know, love, and serve God in this world.” From whom do we learn to know, love, and serve God? “. . . from Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Although stated in slightly different terms, are these two expressions not precisely the same teaching on the ultimate meaning of our lives on this earth?
The primary objective of the CCC, as touched upon in the introductory installment of this series, is to safeguard the Sacred Deposit of Faith while at the same time presenting it in a style and manner better suited to contemporary times. The Truth, in its essence, is immutable — the Church’s doctrinal teaching on faith and morals is unchangeable. However, every age in history has its own unique problems and questions. And so the enduring truth needs to be handed on in a way more accessible to modern man in the times and conditions in which he finds himself. Furthermore, as the CCC explains, “indispensable adaptations” that are faithful to its core teaching are needed to accommodate the “doctrinal presentations and catechetical methods required by the differences of culture, age, spiritual maturity, and social and ecclesial condition among all those to whom it is addressed” (CCC, n. 24).
The aforementioned Baltimore Catechism is an excellent example of one such “indispensable adaptation” from times past. Written well over a century ago, it served a vital purpose in the religious education of children for many decades and, in fact, is still in use today. The CCC’s Prologue mentions many great Church Fathers (e.g., St. Peter Canisius, St. Charles Borromeo, and St. Robert Bellarmine) who engaged in the publication of catechisms. The essential teachings on faith and morals, as they wrote of them, are one and the same as taught by the CCC — their work served as a model for future catechisms. And, in fact, the Roman Catechism, a fruit of the Council of Trent which was written in the 16th century after the Protestant Reformation, is often cited in the CCC.
Returning now to the CCC’s first paragraph, volumes could be written in explanation (as Fr. John Hardon, SJ, was wont to say). In His goodness, God freely created man to share in His own divine life. He created us out of love and He wants us to return that love. Now, love of God and knowledge of God go hand-in-hand. How can one love what one does not know? By coming to know God, one cannot help but love Him, for “God is love” (1 John 4:16). And loving Him, one wants to know more about Him; coming to a fuller knowledge of God, one desires to love Him all the more; and the cycle continues. Even when man rejected God’s love through sin, He continued to love us, sending His only-begotten Son in the fullness of time to redeem us. As we go through the Catechism, these truths of the faith will be examined in great depth.
Switching gears now, the CCC speaks of catechesis and the necessity of handing on the faith (nn. 4-10). The word “catechesis” comes from the ancient Greek word katechizo, which means “to teach by word of mouth,” or to “re-echo” the truths of our faith. It is a fitting word to describe the activity of the apostles whose ministry was to pass on, to transmit, all that Jesus Christ revealed. Catechesis is formally defined in the CCC “as an education in the faith of children, young people, and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life” (n. 5). In his apostolic exhortation Catechesi tradendae (CT), as cited in the CCC’s Prologue, Blessed John Paul II stresses “the need for organic and systematic Christian instruction” (n. 21). The CCC further clarifies: “This catechism is conceived as an organic presentation of the Catholic faith in its entirety. It should be seen therefore as a unified whole” (CCC, n. 18).
The three italicized terms — organic, systematic, and unified whole — are of critical importance here. An organic whole has the unity of a living organism whose parts have specialized functions that act for the good of the whole; the parts have no independent existence apart from the whole. By analogy, think of the difference between an automobile and the human body. Automobile parts are manufactured independently, shipped to a plant, and assembled. In contrast, the truths of the faith form a unified whole like the human body. The four pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church — the Creed (what the Church believes), the Sacraments (what the Church celebrates), the Commandments (what the Church lives), and the Our Father (what the Church prays) — are interrelated. They form a unity. As expressed by Blessed John Paul II when he promulgated the Catechism, they are like “four movements of a great symphony.”
In like fashion, the presentation of the faith should be integral and systematic. Indeed, its presentation of the faith is complete and unambiguous — it is ordered in a tremendously logical fashion with no improvisation. If its organization were arbitrary or random, important aspects of the faith might be left out. Great wisdom, guided by the Holy Spirit, is evident in the overall structure of the CCC.
The final paragraph of the Prologue emphasizes the primacy of charity. It is not enough to learn the Church’s doctrine — we must bear witness to it by the way we live our lives. Having come to know God’s divine plan, we are able to more effectively cooperate with His grace and become useful instruments for the extension of Christ’s Kingdom. As expressed admirably by Fr. Hardon: “Everything we believe and everything we hope for is founded on the fact that God is infinite love who became incarnate out of love for us. We are to spend our lives here on earth giving ourselves in selfless love to God in return.” In other words, to attain the final end for which we were created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen. 1:27), we must become “the salt of the earth and the light of the world” (cf. Matt. 5:13-16), primarily through our selfless actions and witness, performed out of love.
As the famous saying attributed to St. Francis of Assisi goes, we are called to “preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

+    +    +

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

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Leaders call for Catholic sanctuary movement to blunt deportation crackdown

MODESTO, Calif. (CNS) — The push for sanctuary was on a lot of minds at the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements. Concerns about President Donald Trump’s intention to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants rose throughout the Feb. 16-19…Continue Reading

Bishop Schneider: If a Bishop or Pope Commands Me to Sin, “I Have to Refuse”

Bishop Schneider: Aspects of Second Vatican Council Might Be Corrected in the Future; Priests Must Also Come to Resist at Times On 16 February 2017, Rorate Caeli published an interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider, conducted in Mexico by a very…Continue Reading

Pro-Abort . . . Kaine discusses refugee crisis with Pope Francis during Vatican visit

Sen. Tim KaineTim KaineWashington-area lawmakers request GAO report on DC MetroKaine discusses refugee crisis with Pope Francis during Vatican visitA guide to the committees: SenateMORE (D-Va.) met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing refugee…Continue Reading

Trump to Drop Transgender Bathroom Mandate

Obama’s controversial mandate attempted to force schools to let boys into girls’ locker rooms WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) – President Donald Trump is expected to revoke Obama’s transgender bathroom mandate insisting that students be allowed in opposite-sex bathrooms and locker rooms. The…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke is ‘de facto’ suspended, claims Knights of Malta condom promoter

February 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Knights of Malta official at the center of controversy over the Order’s Catholic identity and sovereignty says its patron, Cardinal Raymond Burke, has been “de facto” suspended. Albrecht von Boeselager, a German aristocrat, was…Continue Reading

Cardinal Zen says ‘naïve’ Pope and bad advisors are betraying underground Church in China

February 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Joseph Zen says the Vatican is betraying Catholics living their faith out clandestinely in China. In an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews, he says he has been urged to speak out by Catholics who lack…Continue Reading

Cardinal Zen on dubia: ‘Very respectful request by those bishops and Cardinals to have a clear statement’

February 20, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Joseph Zen in an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo expressed his support for the four Cardinals’ dubia that asks for clarification on the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia’s chapter 8. “I suppose it is a…Continue Reading

These Catholic parishes openly celebrate LGBT. Why aren’t bishops stopping it?

January 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – As controversy continues to rage over Pope Francis’ doctrines on communion for the divorced and remarried, an even more controversial practice proliferating in the shadows for decades is becoming increasingly open and explicit: same-sex couples…Continue Reading

Michael J. Novak, Jr. [1933 – 2017]

Theologian, public intellectual, and close friend of the Acton Institute, Michael J. Novak Jr., passed away last night on February 17, 2017. Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico reflects on the passing of his friend and mentor Michael Novak,…Continue Reading

Twitter erupts with dubious reaction to Cardinal Cupich’s post on marriage document’s ‘absolute clarity’

February 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Chicago Cardinal Blasé Cupich tweeted Tuesday that Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia document was in full fidelity with the Catholic Church and absolutely clear in the expression of its teaching on marriage, but users of the…Continue Reading

More essential than ever for Catholic hospitals to maintain distinct identity: Cardinal Burke

Catholic health-care institutions are needed today more than ever, Cardinal Raymond Burke told a conference on Catholic hospitals in Ohio last week. “Our country suffers the scourge of an attack on the dignity of human life,” the cardinal said. He…Continue Reading

Council of Cardinals pledges allegiance to Pope Francis

ROME, February 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – In an odd note without explanation placed on the Vatican’s daily press briefing today, the Council of Cardinals, a group of 10 Cardinals which Pope Francis has delegated to work with him on reform,…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

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 . . .

Martin Luther: True Reformer or Defender of Erroneous Conscience?

The key issue in debating Luther’s legacy on conscience in the Catholic Church entails whether the teachings of the Church are subordinate to one’s own conscience or whether conscience is bound by the teaching of the Church. Two trials, two appeals to conscience. Trial 1: I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen. Trial 2:…Continue Reading

Why is there a resurgence of infidelity among Catholic leaders?

Earlier this week, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus stressed the need to “discern” the meaning of Christ’s teachings rather than simply accept the way Catholic doctrine states these truths. This triggered an email from an obviously same-sex attracted reader who ecstatically thanked God that someone “besides the Pope” was finally willing to express the truth about the teachings of the Church: “They must be discerned!” The email was so wild that I…Continue Reading

The loss of this one key distinction is fueling much of the confusion around Amoris Laetitia

February 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A rather stark and sobering teaching of the Church is that everyone of adult age on the face of this good Earth, and that means all who can discern between good and evil (which occurs sometime soon after the dawn of reason), is either in a state of grace or in a state of mortal sin, which means that should we all die this instant by some cataclysmic disaster, each…Continue Reading

Virginia bishops lament veto of bill defunding Planned Parenthood

Feb 22, 2017 – 04:35 pm .- The bishops of Virginia’s two dioceses on Tuesday decried Governor Terry McAuliffe’s veto of a bill which would have redirected state funding away from abortion providers and toward community health centers.

San Diego’s Catholic bishop urges citizens to be ‘disruptors’ and ‘rebuilders’ in Trump era

Even before the White House announced stricter immigration policies Tuesday, there were signs of opposition. Addressing people “of all faiths and no faith,” San Diego’s Roman Catholic bishop on Saturday urged Americans to be “disruptors” and “rebuilders.” Donald Trump, Bishop Robert McElroy noted, had campaigned for the presidency as “the disruptor.” “Well now,” McElroy told almost 700 community organizers and social justice advocates meeting in Modesto on the weekend that “we must all

A Book Review… A Methodical Plan For Spiritual Reading And Growth

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN How To Read Your Way to Heaven, by Vicki Burbach (Sophia Institute Press: Manchester, NH, 2016), 275 pp., $18.95. Available from www.SophiaInstitute.com. Because faith is like a mustard seed that needs to grow, it requires cultivation and nourishment to bloom and flourish. One of the traditional ways to nurture Christian faith comes…Continue Reading

From A Former Member… Pope’s Overhaul Of Vatican Pro-Life Academy “Heartbreaking”

By JUDIE BROWN (Editor’s Note: Judie Brown is the president of the American Life League and a former member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. She wrote this commentary for all.org and LifeSiteNews reprinted it. All rights reserved.) + + + The Pontifical Academy for Life is undergoing an overhaul by Pope Francis and his…Continue Reading

Stop And Go, But Don’t Think

By DONALD DeMARCO It may very well be that my philosophical nature inclines me to value the Stop Sign above traffic lights. This may seem to be an odd and arbitrary preference, but there are good reasons for it, especially if one thinks symbolically. The latter represents a mechanical stop-and-go instruction that reminds me too…Continue Reading

St. Catherine Of Bologna . . . The Patron Saint Of Artists

By RAY CAVANAUGH There are patrons of the arts, and then there’s St. Catherine of Bologna — the patron saint of artists. She was a nun, mystic, painter, and author whose feast day occurs on March 9. Born in the northern Italian city of Bologna on September 8, 1413, she entered an aristocratic family. Her…Continue Reading

A Movie Review… Stalin’s Bitter Harvest

By REY FLORES Bitter Harvest is a powerful film; but where do I begin to tell you about it? The first 11 minutes give us the background of the main characters who are shown enjoying somewhat of the last vestiges of a peaceful and idyllic existence before the Holodomor, which was a deliberate famine created…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Silence Implies Consent

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Why are protests breaking out all over the USA and almost every week? People know in their hearts that silence can imply consent; they vehemently deplore the resurgence of common sense and America First and thus are speaking out. We’ve seen the annual March for Life joined this year by the Women’s (pro-abortion) March on…Continue Reading

What Is Faith?… The Consequences Of Original Sin

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 26 In a previous article I mentioned some of the amazing gifts that God granted to mankind through our first parents. If they had not messed up the works, we would have inherited those gifts. Among them, the most important gift they lost was none other than sanctifying grace. Yes, sanctifying grace, whereby they…Continue Reading

The Liturgical Celebration Of The Eucharist

By DON FIER Part 2 The Liturgical Celebration of the Eucharist, as was pointed out last week, is composed of two main parts — the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist — which “form a fundamental unity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 1346). They “are so closely connected with each other,” teach the fathers…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: For those who wonder about the value of praying the rosary daily, consider the following anecdote from Fr. Roger Landry about Fr. Sal Ferigle, an Opus Dei priest who passed away in 1997 and whom many described as “the holiest priest I ever knew.” During a meditation once on the last things, said Fr. Landry, Fr. Sal “confessed…Continue Reading

“Get Away, Satan!”

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER First Sunday Of Lent (YR A) Readings: Gen. 2:7-9, 3:1-7 Romans 5:12-19 Matt. 4:1-11 In the readings today, we hear about Adam and Jesus. In the second reading, St. Paul compares the two of them, recognizing that by one sin many became sinners and by one righteous act many became righteous. So, we have the correlation…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the history of the Church different saints have had special devotions. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Peter Julian Eymard had a great devotion to the Real Presence, and Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco had a deep devotion to the Most Precious Blood. (The Catholic Church recognized this…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Geltrude Caterina Comensoli

By CAROLE BRESLIN (Editor’s Note: Some sources give this saint’s name as Gertrude, but the Vatican’s website calls her Geltrude.) + + + Can there be any nobler calling than to promote adoration of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ really and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament? St. Peter Julian Eymard, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and St.…Continue Reading