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A Gift of God to the Church:
Catechism of the Catholic Church

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

The supreme Shepherd of the whole Church refers to the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a “singular gift of Providence”. The very reason for the existence of the Church, to evangelize, to teach. “Teach them to carry out everything that I have commanded you”. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, takes abundantly from Holy Scripture and the inexhaustible apostolic tradition of the Church gathers into one volume the accumulated doctrinal richness which constitutes the patrimony of the Church. Pope John Paul II, “The publication of this text should be considered surely among the most outstanding events in the recent history of the Church”. In the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum refers to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as a catechism prepared in the spirit and light of the Second Vatican Council. Guarding the deposit of Faith is the mission which the Lord entrusted to His Church and which she fulfills in every age. The principal task entrusted to the Council by Pope John XXIII was to guard and present better the precious deposit of Christian doctrine.

Pope John Paul II and all those who had to carry on their shoulders the tremendous responsibility of safeguarding the divine deposit of revealed truth against all attempt to substitute the divine truths with human perceptions sometimes without malice and in some cases even in the belief that they are doing this for the welfare of humanity. From the beginnings of the Church, St. Paul had to admonish Timothy: “Guard the deposit of faith with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.” To be able to perform the duty of guarding the deposit of Faith one needs the “help of the Holy Spirit”. The Lord instructed the apostles to wait for the Holy Spirit whom “the Father will send in my name, who will instruct you in everything and remind you of all that I told you.”…”and know that I am with you always, until the end of the world”.

There will always be attempts to disregard the divine teaching, to look for teachers who will rather please men than God, false prophets who will come in shepherds’ appearance. I charge you to preach the Word, to stay with this task whether convenient or inconvenient, correcting, reproving, appealing, constantly teaching and never losing patience. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but, following their own desires, will surround themselves with teachers who will tickle their ears. They will stop listening to the truth and will wander off to fables. As for you, be steady and self-possessed; put up with hardship, perform your work as evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

Pope John Paul II, taking a hard look on the situation of morality in the world today realistically calls the world’s attention, but most specially the Bishops of the Church, it is no longer a matter of limited and occasional disregard for the real principles of morality but a systematic and overall rejection of traditional moral norms. “A new situation has come about within the Christian community itself, the spread of numerous doubts and objections of a human and psychological, social and cultural, religious and even properly theological nature, with regard to the Church’s moral teachings. It is no longer a matter of limited and occasional dissent, but of an overall and systematic calling into question of traditional moral doctrine on the basis of certain anthropological and ethical presuppositions. At the root of these presuppositions is the detaching human freedom from its essential and constitutive relationship to truth. The natural law the validity of its precepts if rejected, certain moral Church teachings are found simply unacceptable, and the Magisterium intervening in matters of morality only in order to ‘exhort consciences’ and to ‘propose values’ and each individual will independently make his or her decisions and life choices.” (Veritatis Splendor 4).

Pope John Paul II took the needed steps that led to the preparation, completion, approval and publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church with a special Commission of Cardinals and Bishops. p 9.

There existed a tendency to test the truth by popular surveys, which are not entirely free from manipulation seems to have entered the area of Church doctrine and practice, an attempt to split the unity of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Ambiguity in doctrine where there was compete unity before, leads to doubt the credibility of the Church herself, doubt leads to confusion and ultimately to indifference, which leads to giving up the faith that does not guide anymore.

Christ gave the apostles a final command – to make disciples of all nations and to teach them to observe all that He had commanded. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down on you; then you are to be My witnesses…, yes, even to the ends of the earth”. Christ’s command is ours today.

The Catechism is given to them that it may be a sure and authentic reference test for teaching Catholic doctrine. This gift which the heavenly Father grants to His children offering them through this Catechism the possibility of knowing Him better.

The Catechism is given to pastors and the Christian faithful it is addressed to the whole Church. It is to be received in a spirit of communion and are to use it assiduously (constantly) in fulfilling their mission of proclaiming the faith and calling people to the Gospel life.

The Catechism is given to them that it may be a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine. Any Catholic wishing to have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church should be helped to have this right, nay duty, satisfied. It is intended for the faithful who have the capacity to read, understand and assimilate it in their Christian life.

The Catechism is serve to educate in the faith that the Catholic Church professes and proclaims. It is therefore a gift for everybody. It is a service of the Holy See to the whole Church. It is not a question of adapting to the circumstances of the times, but of fidelity to Christ’s will for His Church.

To the elders among you is to be revealed to God’s flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd’s care. Watch over it willingly as God would have you do, not under constraint; and not for shameful profit either, but generously. Be examples to the flock, not lording it over those assigned to you.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is offered to every individual in search for a saving Truth, who wants to know what the Catholic Church believes.

Conclusion: With certainty and unity in Catholic doctrine shall replace the state of ambiguity and doubt and even unjustifiable diversity, through the use of this Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Introduction and Commendation

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Cardinal Sanchez sees this Catechism as a special gift of the Holy Spirit to believing Catholics throughout the world. It is at once, a gift of understanding, of clarification and of unification.

A gift of understanding in making our faith meaningful in an age of widespread confusion.

A gift of clarification in the midst of so much ambiguity in some circles about the most elementary truths of Christianity.

A gift of unification in restoring unity among the followers of Christ that have been divided for centuries on such crucial issues as the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and the supreme authority of the Bishop of Rome.

Cardinal Sanchez is in the position to spell out the value of this blessing to God to His Church. Why? Because everything in the Church depends on the faith of her members and with emphasis on her bishops, priests and deacons. Our prayer, for the promotion of the Catechism, the promotion of a powerful conduit of Divine Grace as we enter the twenty-first century of the Christian era.


Lay Evangelization of the Catechism

Method and Vision

Example of how to incorporate a vision of Catechesis and adapt it to a Parish situation. Our mission as Marian and Ignatian Catechist is to evangelize.

Cardinal Sanchez stated. “The responsibility of the Laity, to use and promote the Catechism of the Catholic Church”. his Eminence, Jose Cardinal Sanchez, Prefect, Congregation for the Clergy has been given the task by the Holy Father to “oversee, guide and guard” the catechism.

The method and approach in teaching the Catechism has been taught to Marian and Ignatius Catechist. This Method is the Marian Catechist course by Father John A. Hardon, S.J. for further information contact Inter Mirifica, P.O. Box 241, Kensington, MD 20895. Father Hardon’s course was intended to train, educate, prepare and have ready instructors to teach The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Method. How to use the Marian Catechist Course to teach the Catechism. Take the first article, the Apostles Creed is introduced by incorporating Father Hardon’s introduction and focus from the Teacher’s Guide, using Fr. Hardon’s Dictionary and Catechism and the proper background is established. The pertinent sections of the new Catechism can be studied line by line, in textual exegesis style, tying together all the themes and vocabulary learned previously. Each section of the Catechism is concluded with a review from Father Hardon’s Question and Answer sheets and the practical applications of the Catechism of each section and the Teacher’s Guide. This is the pedagogical method established for each section of the Catechism.

Adaptability and maximum use of opportunities available without compromise to the faith is the hallmark of the Marian, Ignatian Catechists. This adaptability also comes into use when one incorporates Scripture study with the Catechism, example part one of each class concerns the Catechism and part two, Scripture in the Catechism.

Louis V. Guardiola

Copyright © 2003 Inter Mirifica

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