What Is The Catechism, Anyway?
As the Year of Faith has been called by Pope Benedict to honor the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, it also coincides with the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). This makes the YOF a great opportunity to take time and dig more deeply into the gift of the Catechism as the universal standard of our Catholic faith and as the authentic interpretation of the Second Vatican Council in matters of faith and morals. Here are a few ideas for educating yourself on the Catechism!
Nothing can substitute for the CCC itself. My favorite printed version is Doubleday’s CCC. You can also find it online. And if you are interested in accessing every footnote referenced in the CCC, you need look no further than the magisterial The Companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: A Compendium of Texts Referred to in the Catechism of the Catholic Church Including an Addendum. But just in case you think the original is too long, the Vatican put out a condensed version called Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Nothing can match the pith and wit of Peter Kreeft, and his Catholic Christianity: A Complete Catechism of Catholic Church Beliefs Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church is no exception to that. It is very accessible as a summary and mild interpretation of the CCC.
The CCC was written as a standard for more local catechisms to be created in various parts of the world. The U.S. Bishops put out an engaging and interesting adult catechism based on the CCC called United States Catholic Catechism for Adults. Very useful for study groups.
If you buy and read Living the Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Creed by Christoph von Cardinal Schönborn you will be getting not only a rich commentary on the CCC, but also insights from the man whose influence loomed large in the writing and final editing of the CCC! Also look for his other two commentaries on the Sacraments and Prayer sections of the CCC.
A wonderful and concise elaboration on the CCC’s treatment of the Commandments is The Commandments We Keep: A Catholic Guide to Living a Moral Life by Fr. Peter J. Vaghi.
Catechism of the Catholic Church DVD. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn presents a 6-part series that covers the history of the Catechism, then reviews the four pillars of the Catechism: what we believe (Creed), celebrate (Sacraments), live (Commandments) and how we pray (Prayer).
Cardinal Francis Arinze offers an amazingly complete series of commentaries on the CCC that are available for free download at the Apostolate for Family Consecration.
Here are a few other links we think you may enjoy: