Friday 6th May 2016

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Catechism Of the Catholic Church: Prologue

April 19, 2014 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

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Cardinal Burke: Notre Dame is Wrong

Notre Dame’s Great Scandal: Honoring Vice President Biden By Thomas McKenna, President of Catholic Action for Faith and Family: The University of Notre Dame has announced that they intend to confer the Laetare Medal, an honor given to Catholics “in…Continue Reading

DoJ to North Carolina: You Have Until Monday to Reverse Bathroom Bill

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory received a letter from the Department of Justice that gives him until Monday to reverse his state’s controversial bathroom bill, reports The Hill. The DoJ said the law is in violation of the federal Civil…Continue Reading

Lavender Graduations Harmful to Students at Catholic Colleges

At least eight Catholic colleges across the country are hosting “lavender graduations” this spring — many of them as part of an annual campus tradition — to celebrate and honor students with same-sex attraction (SSA) or who identify as lesbian,…Continue Reading

Serving LGBT Students in Catholic Schools

April 28, 2016, at 9:03 AM  |  By Dan Guernsey  |  Opinion How do Catholic schools best serve students who struggle with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria (popularly called “transgendered”)? What should a school’s policies prescribe in order to prevent…Continue Reading

Pro-Life Group Lists Every Company Backing Planned Parenthood

A pro-life organization that has spent decades working to try to get corporations to stop giving financial donations to the Planned Parenthood abortion business has released a revised listing of companies backing the abortion giant. Life Decisions International has released…Continue Reading

Trump completes 5-state sweep; Clinton beats Sanders in most Super Tuesday III contests

Donald Trump completed a five-state sweep in Tuesday’s Republican presidential primaries, strengthening his shot at avoiding a contested convention – while Hillary Clinton scored convincing victories but was denied the same bragging rights of a primary sweep by a surprise…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood Caught Again

Kentucky is suing a new Planned Parenthood clinic after Governor Matt Bevin found out that they have illegally killed 23 unborn children. The clinic knowingly operated without a license for nearly two months. The request for a license was later…Continue Reading

Top Vatican cardinals aren’t commenting on pope’s exhortation

April 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two of the Vatican’s most senior prelates, both known for taking a strong stand for the Church’s tradition at the Synod on the Family, are declining interviews on Pope Francis’ controversial apostolic exhortation. Vatican reporter…Continue Reading

Indiana diocese: Catholic teachers must uphold Church’s moral teachings

FORT WAYNE, Indiana, April 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Another Catholic bishop has taken steps to reinforce Catholic identity in the schools of his diocese. Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop Kevin Rhoades promulgated “The Mission of Our Catholic Schools and the Importance…Continue Reading

Abby Johnson to Georgetown: Pray for Cecile Richards because no one is beyond conversion

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – No one is beyond conversion, former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson said at Georgetown University Wednesday, just hours after Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards delivered a lecture to a packed room at…Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Pro-life NFL star Matt Birk reveals real reason he skipped meeting with Obama

April 15, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — When football star Matt Birk decided to quietly decline an invitation to meet President Obama after winning the 2013 Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens, he said at the time that he was acting on…Continue Reading

Head of US Bishops’ news agency resigns, blames ‘far right blogosphere’

WASHINGTON, D.C. April 14, 2016 (LifeSiteNews)—The editor-in-chief and director of the U.S. bishops’ official news service resigned Wednesday at the request of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference general secretary. Tony Spence, who had worked for Catholic News Service since 2004, had…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

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


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

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

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Commentary

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .  

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis: ‘God loves each and every one of us’

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says God loves each and every one of us, He is totally extraneous to the “throwaway culture” of today and like the good shepherd he does not want a single person to be lost. Speaking on Wednesday at the weekly General Audience, Pope Francis continued his catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy reflecting on the parable of the Good Shepherd. He said that the Lord uses the image of the…Continue Reading

Cardinal Müller: Communion Remains Off-Limits for “Remarried”

muller

News is now spreading about Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s varied remarks on marriage, as well as on the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia itself, during his trip to Spain at the beginning of May. As the Spanish website Infocatolica.com now reports, Cardinal Müller spoke at a presentation of his new book on hope at the Francisco de Vitoria University in Madrid, Spain, where he affirmed and confirmed the traditional view of marriage and the “impossibility” of changing that clear…Continue Reading

Catholic Colleges Embrace ‘Demonic’ Gender Ideology in Housing Policies

gay

The College of the Holy Cross, a Jesuit, Catholic institution in Worcester, Mass., will implement a new housing policy in the 2016-2017 academic year that embraces gender ideology, which Pope Francis has called “demonic” and a threat to the family. The updated housing policy “will allow students of different sexes to room together based on gender identity,” according to an April 29, 2016, report in the campus newspaper The Crusader. At the University of San…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood CEO: My Proudest Moment is Forcing Christians to Pay for Abortion Drugs

richards

Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards seems to jump at every chance she gets to do an interview with a journalist who will flatter her abortion work. In her latest interview, Richards revealed her proudest moment on the job – forcing Christians to pay for contraception, including methods that many say can cause early abortions. She told the Texas Observer: TO: And your proudest moment at Planned Parenthood? CR: Definitely the day President Obama called to…Continue Reading

Pope’s Morning Homily: No to Double Lives!

pope(picture)

You are in communion with God, walk in the light. Do works of light, don’t say one thing and do another •April 29, 2016•ZENIT Staff• Pope Francis today exhorted Christians to avoid the “double life” of saying one thing and doing another. This was a main message of his homily this morning in the Casa Santa Marta, reported Vatican Radio. “If you say you are in communion with the Lord, then walk in the light.…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “How To Fight Dissent Continued”

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 the book Call to Action or Call to Apostasy, consisting of a detailed description of the current forms of dissent and how to fight them, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org). +…Continue Reading

Dishonoring General Jackson

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN In Samuel Eliot Morison’s The Oxford History of the American People, there is a single sentence about Harriet Tubman. “An illiterate field hand, [Tubman] not only escaped herself but returned repeatedly and guided more than 300 slaves to freedom.” Morison, however, devotes most of five chapters to the greatest soldier-statesman in…Continue Reading

Euthanasia In Canada… Liberty Without Freedom

By DONALD DeMARCO On April 14, 2016, Canada’s Liberal government introduced Bill C-14 legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide. The long-awaited draft is intended to amend two Criminal Code sections that formerly prohibited euthanasia and assisted suicide. The Supreme Court of Canada, in a 9-0 decision on February of 2015, declared these sections to be unconstitutional.…Continue Reading

And A Child Shall Lead Them

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK College students are not children, yet the line from Isaiah 11:6, about how “a little child shall lead them,” may fit the role they will play is correcting the disorder at our Catholic universities. Perhaps it is wishful thinking, but one cannot help but wonder if the day will come when…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred . . . On Defending Doctrinal Truth Without Compromise

By JAMES MONTI Several years ago I had the curious misfortune of having to listen to several homilies regarding St. John the Baptist in which this great Forerunner of the Christ was cast as somewhat of a villain. The homilist claimed that John was being too judgmental in condemning Herod for his adultery and incest,…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Faith And Courage

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER The Solemnity Of Pentecost (YR C) Readings: Acts 2:1-11 1 Cor. 12:3b-7, 12-13 John 20:19-23 In the Gospel reading today we hear about our Lord breathing on His disciples so that they would receive the Holy Spirit. This, of course, is a reference back to the creation when God breathed the breath of life into the…Continue Reading

“Love One Another”. . . But Logic Cannot Be Separated From God

By FR. JOHN DE CELLES (Editor’s Note: Fr. John De Celles, pastor of St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church, Springfield, Va., gave the following homily on the Fifth Sunday of Easter, April 24, 2016, at his parish. (Fr. De Celles based his homily on the readings for that day, including the Gospel which has the passage, “Love one another as…Continue Reading

Race And Religion . . . Commitment To Religion Improves Lives

By FR. JOHN FLYNN, LC (Editor’s Note: Fr. John Flynn, LC, wrote this commentary for ZENIT News Agency. Fr. Flynn, a regular ZENIT contributor, holds degrees from the University of New South Wales and from the Pontifical Gregorian University. (We are running this commentary in the space usually reserved for Fr. Kevin M. Cusick’s column, as Fr. Cusick appears on…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course… The Inquisition: Answering Objections

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 52 First objection: The Inquisition was intolerant! Reply: Before we dissect the Inquisition, we first have to define the terms we use, to ensure that we share the same meaning. What is “tolerance”? In today’s liberal parlance, it means something like accepting other opinions, views, and preferences, so that we are not seen to…Continue Reading

The Liturgy — Work Of The Holy Trinity

By DON FIER Part 4 The cooperation between the Holy Spirit and the Church that is at work in the liturgy is so close that the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) treats the two together. As stated in the section’s opening paragraph, when the Advocate “encounters in us the response of faith…the liturgy becomes the common work of the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Blessed Anna Rosa Gattorno

By CAROLE BRESLIN Near the western border of Italy lies Monaco. Driving northeast along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea for about 110 miles, the traveler arrives in the coastal city of Genoa, home of a truly remarkable woman who served the Kingdom of God as a wife, mother, widow, layperson, and religious. Although she suffered from hidden wounds, she…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Hugh The Great

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the 11th century, over 150 years before St. Francis of Assisi received the order from our Lord to “repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin,” the secular rulers sought to control the appointment of bishops, abbots, and even the Pope. During this period of simony and conflict, St. Hugh the Great entered…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading