Thursday 27th October 2016

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

Catechism Of the Catholic Church: Prologue

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


“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

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican: Cremated bodies may not be scattered

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2016 / 09:44 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released an instruction Tuesday regarding burial and cremation, reiterating the Church’s teaching that cremation, while strongly discouraged, can be permissible under certain…Continue Reading

Pope’s climate message failed to sway Catholic conservatives: study

Pope Francis’s landmark statement on climate change and his call for more work on the issue failed to sway conservative American Catholics, according to a new study. The report, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, concluded that…Continue Reading

Live From New York Should a Catholic Vote for Hillary or Trump?

Almighty God has been very good  in giving us as the day’s Gospel passage that of Our Lord’s famous admonition to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but to God what is God’s.” I say that in view of the…Continue Reading

Catholic university blasts ‘Unborn Lives Matter’ posters as ‘bigotry,’ bans them on campus

CHICAGO, Illinois, October 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – College Republicans at DePaul University were prohibited by the university president from displaying posters on campus advertising their group with the pro-life message, “Unborn Lives Matter.” Vincentian Father Dennis Holtschneider indicated to the…Continue Reading

For Archbishop Chaput, ‘Catholic Spring’ group did untold damage

Philadelphia, Pa., Oct 14, 2016 / 05:53 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput did not enjoy his first and only encounter with two leaders of Catholics United. “It was an interesting experience,” Archbishop Chaput recounted in his Oct. 13 column…Continue Reading

The anti-Catholic Catholics (and the bishops who support them)

Yesterday Ross Douthat of the New York Times embarked on a lengthy Tweetstorm —21 tweets in all—questioning whether it’s accurate to refer to the leaked emails from the Clinton campaign as evidence of “anti-Catholic” bigotry. Douthat—who is no friend of…Continue Reading

The next ‘deplorables’? Clinton campaign rips ‘backwards’ Catholic beliefs in leaked e-mails

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – “Conservative Catholics” are the latest Americans to be smeared by members of Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign, leaked emails revealed on Tuesday show. Catholic beliefs are bashed as “backwards” and conservative Catholics…Continue Reading

German Bishop’s New Proposal: “There Exists More Than Man and Woman”

The Catholic Church in Germany seems to be becoming more and more unbounded in its proposals. In the recent past, for examples, the official website of the German Bishops’ Conference,, has reported about the idea to have women cardinals; about…Continue Reading

Cardinal Sarah presents counter-vision to Francis as he launches new book

After being reprimanded by Pope Francis over the summer for calling on priests to face east while saying Mass, Cardinal Robert Sarah is refusing to back down and is becoming a rallying point of opposition to this papacy.  The Vatican’s…Continue Reading

Massachusetts’ highest court grants full parental rights to unmarried gay woman

BOSTON – The Mass. court that paved the way for same-sex marriage in the United States ruled Tuesday that an unmarried gay woman whose former girlfriend gave birth to two children through artificial insemination has the same parental rights as…Continue Reading

Shunned for supporting natural marriage, former Mozilla CEO is back with new browser

SAN FRANCISCO, September 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The former CEO of Mozilla has released a new Internet browser called Brave. Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript, continues to lead the technological revolution with Brave, an innovative concept in Internet browsers.…Continue Reading

Lay Catholic Group: Tim Kaine’s Radical Views Stem From Embrace of Liberation Theology

An organization of committed lay Catholics is challenging Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, who’s invoking his Catholic faith and the words of Pope Francis as a basis for his radical positions on abortion and marriage, as well as his…Continue Reading


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 + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis addresses JPII Institute

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis addressed the administration, faculty, students, and staff of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Rome on Thursday, at the opening of the Institute’s academic year. The Holy Father’s address was also in view of the Institute’s upcoming 35th anniversary, to be marked in November. In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered on Thursday morning in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace,…Continue Reading

Father Gerald Murray, Blasts Clinton for Not Apologizing for Staff Emails, Suggesting Pope Francis Supports Her

A Catholic priest said Friday on Fox News that he is very disappointed Hillary Clinton didn’t apologize for her campaign staff’s anti-Catholic remarks during her appearance at the Al Smith dinner. The annual Al Smith roast-style fundraiser for Catholic charities was held Thursday night in Manhattan, and featured both candidates for president. Father Gerald Murray, the pastor of Holy Family Church in New York City, was also incensed that Clinton suggested that Pope Francis was endorsing her…Continue Reading

Cardinal Kasper: Can the ‘remarried’ now receive communion? ‘Yes. Period.’

October 24, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — In a recent publication of the German journal Stimmen der Zeit (Journal for Christian Culture), Cardinal Walter Kasper published an article calling Amoris Laetitia a “paradigm shift” in the Church’s teaching. “Amoris Laetitia: Break or Beginning” is the title of a recent scientific article by Kasper in which he analyzes the post-synodal exhortation and provides his opinion on the right hermeneutic in reading it. In the first part called “Discussion…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood rips proposal to require father’s consent for abortion

SOUTH CAROLINA, October 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) is walking back suggestions it made last month that fathers of pre-born children consent for their mothers to abort them. The proposed regulations would possibly update abortion accident reporting requirements, requirements for abortion licensure, “complaint reporting, patient rights, infection control,” “record maintenance,” and “fire and life safety requirements,” according to the SCDHEC, which is accepting public comment on…Continue Reading

Philadelphia Archbishop Chaput welcomes ‘smaller church’ of holier Catholics

(RNS) In a stark prognosis for contemporary Catholicism, a leader of the conservative wing of the U.S. hierarchy has said that “a smaller, lighter church” of fewer but holier believers is preferable to one that promotes inclusion at the expense of traditional orthodoxy. In a speech delivered Wednesday (Oct. 19) at the University of Notre Dame, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput also suggested that many prominent Catholics are so weak in their faith that they ought…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Advance Medical Directives” (Conclusion)

By BRIAN CLOWES (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, “Euthanasia,” e-mail him at + + + We have seen that there are many problems associated with the standard Living Will, although…Continue Reading

Restoring The Rightful Place Of The Supreme Court In American Government

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bi-monthly] in Crisis. 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…Continue Reading

Time To Pray Unceasingly . . . The Catholic Church Is Under Attack

By FR. MICHAEL P. ORSI The Gospel reading for Sunday, October 16 was Jesus’ parable about the persistent widow demanding of a corrupt judge that he render a fair verdict on her claim. The judge gives in “lest she finally come and strike me.” It’s a humorous anecdote which Jesus turns into an illustration of…Continue Reading

A Movie Review . . . Coming To God In An Unconventional Way

By REY FLORES “I see you dressed in white. Every wrong made right. I see a rose in bloom. At the sight of you (oh so priceless). Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable. I see it all in you (oh so priceless).” The above are the closing lyrics for the song Priceless by country duo For King &…Continue Reading

A Disillusioned Marxist Professor

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK I spent much of my adult life observing left-wing academics who professed a fondness for socialism in one form or another. Some were my professors, others colleagues. More than a few were New Left Marxists who spoke openly in admiration of Mao, Fidel Castro, and the Sandinistas. One woman I taught…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Let Your Hearts Be Strengthened

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirty-Second Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: 2 Macc. 7:1-2, 9-14 2 Thess. 2:16-3:5 Luke 20:27-38 In the first reading today we hear about the heroic family who all suffered death at the hands of a tyrant who was trying to force the Jewish people to give up their faith because it made them different…Continue Reading

Cardinal Ratzinger’s 2004 Letter… Forbids Catholics To Vote For Hillary Clinton Under Pain Of Mortal Sin

(Editor’s Note: Below is a commentary The Wanderer is reprinting with permission from Catholics 4 Trump [catholics4trump], originally posted on October 11. All rights reserved. Catholics 4 Trump makes the case that a vote for the pro-abortion Hillary Clinton is objectively grave matter. Note the contrast between Trump’s and Clinton’s abortion stands in the third and final presidential debate on…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Pray Always And Never Grow Weary

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK A moment of dawning experience when I was young gave birth to a nearly perfect prayer. This farewell to innocence of which I speak was a blessing. In the light of it I came to know the presence of God through His goodness which is the heart of prayer in the life of faith. I…Continue Reading

What Is Faith?… Other Attributes Of God

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 8 “I love thee, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:1-2). The enthusiasm with which the psalmist praises God our Lord comes from his knowledge of God’s…Continue Reading

Confirmation In The Economy Of Salvation

By DON FIER Part 2 In the introductory paragraph of its section on the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Roman Catechism [RC], promulgated in 1566 by Pope St. Pius V soon after the Council of Trent, are the following words: “If there was ever a time when the Sacrament of Confirmation needed to be explained carefully, that time is now. All…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Colman Of Kilmacduagh

By CAROLE BRESLIN Ireland, the Emerald Isle, a green country of lush fauna, friendly people, and beautiful views — if you can find a clear day — has a rich and troubled heritage. It is a land full of the lore of elves, fairies, and, most important, Catholic saints. Numerous books have been written about the many Irish saints and…Continue Reading

Blessed Giuseppe Puglisi

By CAROLE BRESLIN When a society is riddled with evil and corruption, the worst thing we can do is to remain quiet. If we truly believe in God, then it is our obligation to do all we can to save the souls in danger of being lost in such a society. The threats and dangers of this world are not…Continue Reading