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‘FIVE THINGS CATHOLICS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE CATECHISM’
By Alissa Thorell
Catechism specialist for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis
To honor the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI has announced a Year of Faith. It began October 11, ends November 24, 2013, and is meant to strengthen the faith of Catholics and draw the world to faith by their example.
The pope has encouraged Catholics to study the Catechism for as part of the Year of Faith. Alissa Thorell, catechism specialist for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis, offers “Five Things Catholics Should Know About the Catechism” to help Catholics better understand this book and its significance in their faith. Thorell explains:
1. It’s universal in its scope. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the first book of its kind in 450 years, an effort by the world’s bishops to convey the content of the Catholic faith to the whole Church and the whole world. Following the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), it was important for the Church to present its teachings for Catholics living in the modern world.
2. It’s universal in its content. The Catechism compiles the living tradition of the Catholic Church and divides it into four sections: what Catholics believe (the Creed), how the faith is transmitted (worship and sacraments), how Catholics are called to live (moral life) and prayer. The contents of these four parts are interwoven, providing an organic presentation of the faith.
3. It’s a resource for education. The main goal of the Catechism is to help bishops, pastors, catechists, parents and all who teach the faith. It provides a foundation that encourages dioceses to draw their own teaching materials from it.
4. It’s an invitation to prayer. The Catechism draws from the richness of Catholic tradition, including the lives of the saints, the teaching documents of the Church and Scripture. This makes it not only useful for learning about the Catholic faith, but for growing in one’s faith through meditation and prayer.
5. It’s for Catholics of all ages. Learning and living the faith is an ongoing process throughout a person’s entire life, and the Catechism can help Catholics come to know and love Christ. At almost 700 pages, the Catechism can be intimidating, but it also has helpful summaries of its contents throughout, and another, the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, gives a section-by-section breakdown of the Catechism, making it even more accessible to readers.
More information on how Catholics can live the Year of Faith is available online: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/year-of-faith/
Photos courtesy of Catholic News Service.
WASHINGTON—To honor the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI has announced a Year of Faith, starting October 11 and ending November 24, 2013, meant to strengthen the faith of Catholics and draw the world to faith by their example. Pope Benedict has encouraged Catholics to study the lives of the saints as part of the Year of Faith in order to follow their example.
Jeannine Marino, program specialist for the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) offers “10 American Saints for the Year of Faith” to help Catholics learn about the lives of the saints and to appreciate the history of the Catholic faith in America. Marino is a canon lawyer who has served as a postulator and advisor to several canonization causes. A postulator conducts research into the life of a proposed saint.
Two saint from the list, Marianne Cope, OSF and Kateri Tekakwitha, will be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21. Here is the full list:
1. St. Isaac Jogues, SJ, a missionary and one of the North American martyrs, traveled from France to the new world shortly after his ordination. In 1641, he and his companions were captured by the Iroquois, who tortured and killed most of them. He was killed with a tomahawk in 1646 and canonized in 1930.
2. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, MSC, the first U.S. citizen to be canonized, came to the United States as a missionary from Italy. She founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and, over 35 years, started six institutions for the poor, the abandoned, the uneducated and the sick. She died in 1917 and is the patron saint of immigrants.
3. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, SC, the first native-born U.S. citizen to be canonized, was left poor and widowed with five children. She converted to Catholicism and founded the first order of religious women in America, the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph. She was cofounder of the first free Catholic school in America and is considered the founder of the Catholic school system in the United States. She died in 1821.
4. St. John Neumann, CSsR, a Redemptorist priest, was the fourth bishop of Philadelphia from 1852 till his death in 1860. A native of Bohemia, he followed his vocation to New York City and, at the time of his ordination, was one of only 36 priests serving 200,000 Catholics. He founded the first diocesan Catholic school system in the United States, growing the number of schools in his diocese from two to 100.
5. St. Katharine Drexel, SBS, a wealthy, educated young woman from Philadelphia with a deep sympathy for the poor, gave up everything to become a missionary to the Indians and African Americans. She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and started numerous schools and missions for Native and African Americans. She died at the age of 96 in 1955 and was canonized in 2000.
6. St. Mother Théodore Guérin, SP, founder of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, was asked to leave France and lead a small band of missionary sisters to Indiana. When the sisters arrived, there was only a log cabin with a porch that served as a chapel. By the time she died in 1856, she and her community had opened schools in Illinois and throughout Indiana. She was canonized in 2006.
7. St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, RSCJ, a missionary to Native Americans, traveled to the Louisiana Territory from France in 1818, where she and other members of the Society of the Sacred Heart carried out their missionary work. She opened the first free school for girls west of the Mississippi River, as well as the first Catholic school for Native Americans. She was known among the Pottowami Indians as the “Woman Who Prays Always.”
8. St. Damien de Veuster of Molokai, SSCC, missionary to the lepers of Molokai, Hawaii, was born in Belgium in 1840 to a poor farmer and his wife. At 19, he entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. His older brother, also a priest in the congregation, had offered to minister to the lepers on the island of Molokai but fell ill and couldn’t go. Damien volunteered to take his place and offered to stay in the leper colony permanently, building schools, churches, hospitals and coffins. He contracted leprosy himself but continued to serve the mission until his death in 1889.
9. St. Marianne Cope, OSF, another missionary to the lepers of Molokai, joined the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis in her teens and served in leadership roles including novice mistress of her congregation and superior of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse. She became a leader in the field of health care, often caring for those considered outcasts, which led her to volunteer in Hawaii. In Hawaii she cared for women and girls suffering from leprosy, providing them with an education. She died in 1918.
10. St. Kateri Tekakwitha, also known as the Lily of the Mohawks, converted at the age of 19, heedless of the anger of her relatives. Because she refused to work on Sundays, she was denied meals that day in the Mohawk village. Finally, a missionary encouraged her to run away to Montreal, where she practiced her faith freely and lived a life of extreme prayer and penance, taking a vow of virginity. She died in 1680.
More information on American saints and holy men and women for the Year of Faith is available online: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/year-of-faith/saints-for-the-year-of-faith.cfm
Photos courtesy of Catholic News Service.
SEVEN THINGS CATHOLICS SHOULD KNOW…
Editor’s note: To honor the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI has announced a Year of Faith, starting October 11 and ending November 24, 2013, to strengthen the faith of Catholics and draw the world to faith by their example. The Year of Faith is meant to reflect one of the themes of Pope Benedict’s pontificate, the New Evangelization.
Peter Murphy, D.Min., executive director of the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), shares “Seven Things Catholics Should Know About the New Evangelization.” Murphy, who is in Rome as an auditor of the October 7-28 Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, has this to say.
1. It’s not new in content, but new in energy and approach. The New Evangelization re-proposes the faith to a world longing for answers to life’s most profound questions. It’s a call to share Christ and bring the Gospel, with renewed energy and through ever-changing methods, to new and different audiences.
2. It begins with personal conversion. The New Evangelization begins internally and spreads outward. We are called to deepen our own faith in order to better share it with others. Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger described this in the Jubilee Year 2000 as daring to have faith with the humility of the mustard seed that leaves up to God how and when the tree will grow. Conversion to Christ is the first step.
3. It’s for believers and non-believers alike. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., recently observed that the most difficult people to evangelize are the ones who think they’ve already been converted. So whether it’s someone at Mass every Sunday, an inactive Catholic or someone for whom religion is not part of life, the New Evangelization invites all people to discover faith anew.
4. It’s about a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Before a person can share Christ with others, they must first experience Christ in their own life. The New Evangelization is about promoting a personal encounter with Christ for all people, wherever they are in their lives. Whether that means finding faith for the first time or spreading the Good News, the most authentic and effective efforts are the ones closest to Christ.
5. It’s not an isolated moment, but an ongoing practice. Personal conversion and the encounter with Christ is an ongoing experience that lasts a lifetime. Catholics are blessed to encounter their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in the Sacraments. Catholics are called to live in a way that reflects the love of Christ. God’s love is shared with our neighbors through caring for the poor and welcoming those who feel distant from God.
6. It’s meant to counter secular culture. G.K. Chesterton wrote that “each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most.” The New Evangelization responds to Western society’s ongoing move away from religion by urging Catholics to enthusiastically share Christ in word and through the credible witness of their lives. This is why Pope Benedict encourages Catholics to study the lives of the saints during the Year of Faith and learn from their example.
7. It’s a priority for the Church. Blessed Pope John Paul II made it a major priority of his 26-year pontificate. Continuing this, Pope Benedict launched the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization in 2010 and made it the theme of the 2012 Synod of Bishops. The U.S. bishops issued a document in April, “Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization,” focused on welcoming inactive Catholics back to the faith. The New Evangelization has an urgency about it, an urgency for all Catholics to embrace the grace of their baptismal call and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with their family, friends and neighbors.
More information on the New Evangelization is available online: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/
Photos courtesy of Catholic News Service