Mar 5, 2013

Baltimore Catechism #1 (first grade addition), question 3 & 4.

My wife and I still have our first grade Catechism. It now has yellow pages that are brittle, but the print is still easy to read. Many people of our generation consider the Baltimore Catechism as something from the past that does not meet the needs of the current times. It is however the product of the United States Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in Washington DC and has the imprimatur of Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York. It is based on The Catechism of the Council of Trent held shortly after the Protestant reformation.

There was not another official catechism issued by the Church until it was commissioned by Pope Blessed John Paul II after the Second Vatican Council. The truths taught in both catechisms are identical, but written for current times for so many supposedly better educated.

So, if we are so better educated today than we were 500 years ago why can’t today’s children and adults answer questions 3 & 4 of the Baltimore Catechism #1 as well as first graders could in the 1950’s and 500 years ago? It certainly is not the fault of the newer Catechism of the Catholic Church. It must be because it has not been taught to them or read by them.

If it had been taught or read by people at a recent Lenten program in our parish they would not have struggled as they did to answer the program’s question “What is the meaning of Life?” Happily the fact that we had such a parish program indicates that the Church has embraced the direction of our last two great Popes to implement the “New Evangelization”! We must pray for our soon to be elected Pontiff as he takes on this challenge throughout the world.

To be fair, the Baltimore Catechism’s question was not verbatim “What is the meaning of Life?”. Question 3 is “Why did God make us?” (A. …To show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven). Question 4 is “What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?” (A. …To gain the happiness of heaven we must KNOW, LOVE, AND SERVE God in this world.”)

In recalling the life of St. Francis we can see how our saint lived this and for Secular Franciscans this could easily be our motto in today’s New Evangelization.  POC.  Bob, OFS