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The Anatomy of The Catholic Catechism

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In 2000, The United States Bishops took the Catechism of the Catholic church and developed a version exclusively for the individual Catholic Person in the United States. The book is very readable and is set up like a text book so that its easy to use follow and learn from format. The books appropriately is called United States Catholic Catechism for Adults.

The main focus of the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults is the four Pillars of Catholicism; The Creed, or what we believe, the sacraments; Catholic Morality, which includes the 10 Commandments; and then Catholic Pray. The Bishops were very mindful to keep that same structure. And it mimics the main catechism.

The first thing they did was put every chapter in  out there with the life story of a saint or an important person in the Catholic faith and they tried to use Americans. Saints like Elizabeth Anne Seton and noted Catholics of importance, Dorothy Day, who on the path to canonization and Fulton Sheen, who has a movement to start his canonization process. Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI was also notable non American figures mentioned.

The next thing they did was transition into the teachings of the material to be covered. By example Dorothy Day lead the chapter that was on the 5th Commandment, Murder. Her story is an incredible one, going from having an abortion to working with poverty and understanding the needs of the poor. Her story was a great one to go with the 5th commandment because she personified the understanding of the dignity of the person as the chapter covered not only abortion, but Stem Cell Research, Partial Birth Abortion, Euthanasia, and War. These topics all speak to the Christian responsibility when it comes to human life, the respect for life and the “rights of the dying” to live.  In the United States these topics are all hot button topics that spark debate and Catholics have the moral responsibility to uphold the dignity of life, while living in a culture of death.

While reading the  though the discussion and the summary type presentation of the tenants of the church’s teaching on the 5th commandment, the actual applicable lines from the CCC are introduced, via a side bar, an area of the page that is set off from the rest of the text as it contains different information. It is the raw text from the Vatican that help form the chapter.

The book then lists from discussion questions if the book is being used by a group. Individuals are also challenged with those questions and should open up the door for some though.

After you have processed what you read, there are the doctoral statements of the chapter. These items are thing that would benefit every Catholic to memorize and was somewhat similar to the old Baltimore Catechism, which of course was not sanctioned by the church. However, if you don’t feel compelled to commit it to memory, know that it is a great book that you can pick up and answer many of the questions Catholics are challenged with today.

Lastly and maybe most importantly, is pray and mediation and there a section to foster that as well. The Bishops took their time and produced a readable book for Catholics to better learn their faith, educating our children and being able to know and answer questions about our faith with a much greater knowledge.

This article was published on Thursday 15 May, 2008.

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