Catechisms

Catechism on the Real Presence

Book cover: 'Catechism on the Real Presence'
Author(s): 
Father John A. Hardon, S.J.
Copyright: 
1998
Publisher: 
Inter Mirifica
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
71 pages
Subject(s): 
Review: 

In September 1965, Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical titled Mysterium Fidei (Mystery of Faith) to provide the faithful with the teachings of the Catholic Church on the doctrine and worship of the Holy Eucharist. The first half of Catechism on the Real Presence is an eloquent question-and-answer catechism that carefully details each of the main points of Mysterium Fidei, cross-referenced to specific paragraphs in the document itself. The latter half of the book contains the entire text of the encyclical itself as a convenient reference. Also included are notes which refer to various Bible readings, encyclicals, and the writings of the Church fathers. Finally, a topical index points the reader to both the related questions in the catechism and the paragraph in Mysterium Fidei.

Father Hardon's ability to take a difficult subject and explain it with directness and simplicity shines in this catechism. The very first question tells us why we should make time to study this topic in depth both for ourselves as the catechists of our children and for our children themselves. Question 1 asks, "What is the most precious treasure of the Catholic Church?" The answer is, "The most precious treasure of the Catholic Church is the Holy Eucharist, which is the most fundamental truth of the Catholic faith." This book is a valuable addition to a high school level apologetics or doctrine class, or to a Confirmation preparation course for older students.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat

Review Date: 
12-29-04
Reviewed by: 

Catholic Catechism on the Angels

Book cover: 'Catholic Catechism on the Angels'
Author(s): 
Father John A. Hardon, S.J.
Copyright: 
2000
Publisher: 
Inter Mirifica
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
28 pages
Subject(s): 
Review: 

In today's culture, angels are represented on everything from popular television programs to needlecraft projects, but they are rarely portrayed accurately. This little powerhouse of a book sets the record straight on Catholic teaching regarding our "holy helpers". Thorough but concise, it is written for upper high-school students and adults.

The book is organized into three sections that take the form of a brief essay followed by a question-and-answer catechism clarifying each point made. Father Hardon begins with a study of the angels, providing an explanation of angelic terms and definitions commonly used in reference to angels; adversaries, which are those individuals or systems which deny the doctrines about angels; and doctrinal value, which refers to the need for a believing Catholic to accept what is taught by the Church. He continues with the Catholic doctrines on the existence of angels from three different directions: ecclesiastical authority, sacred scripture, and theological reasoning. Finally, Father Hardon concludes with the proofs that angels are pure spirits from ecclesiastical authority, sacred scripture and tradition, and patristic evidence.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat

Review Date: 
12-29-04
Reviewed by: 

The Catechetical Instructions of Saint Thomas Aquinas

Book cover: 'The Catechetical Instructions of Saint Thomas Aquinas'
Copyright: 
1939
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
239 pages
Subject(s): 
Review: 

Saint Thomas provides beautiful explanations of the Apostles' Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Sacraments, the Lord's Prayer and the Hail Mary.
Sample passages:

"From all this then is seen the effect of the passion of Christ as a remedy for sin. But no less does it profit us as an example. St. Augustine says that the passion of christ can bring about a complete reformation of our lives. Whoever wishes to live perfectly need do nothing other than despise what Christ despised on the Cross, and desire what Christ desired. There is no virtue that did not have its example on the Cross."

"The plenitude of grace in Mary was such that its effects overflow upon all men. It is a great thing in a Saint when he has grace to bring about the salvation of many, but it is exceedingly wonderful when grace is of such abundance as to be sufficient for the salvation of all men in the world, and this is true of Christ and of the Blessed Virgin. Thus, 'a thousand bucklers,' that is, remedies against dangers, 'hang therefrom.' Likewise, in every work of virtue one can have her as one's helper. Of her it was spoken: ' In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue.' Therefore, Mary is full of grace, exceeding the Angels in this fullness and very fittingly is she called 'Mary' which means 'in herself enlightened': 'The Lord will fill thy soul with brightness.' And she will illumine others throughout the world, for which reason she is compared to the sun and the moon."

The text contains an error regarding the Immaculate Conception (which was not defined as dogma until well after the time of St. Thomas Aquinas). While the error is corrected in the footnotes, the issue is very important and needs to be clearly understood.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

Written in the 1200s, this English edition has a 1939 Imprimatur

The Sophia Institute Press edition contains the same text in two hardcover volumes

Review Date: 
1-20-01
Reviewed by: 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church: Second Edition

Book cover: 'The Catechism of the Catholic Church: Second Edition'
Copyright: 
1997
Publisher: 
Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
904 pages
Subject(s): 
Review: 

This beautiful new Catechism is truly a gift and a treasure in an era when "new" so often means "bad." Although I have not yet read every word of it (it's quite a big book!) I have had the pleasure of leading Catechism study groups for mothers and found much success in using this text to help some who were previously very lukewarm in their faith to better understand not only what the Catholic Church really teaches, but why these teachings make sense - yes, even in our modern world!

The Catechism is divided into four main sections. The First, the Profession of Faith, covers the basic beliefs and dogmas of the Church - based upon the Creed. Part Two, "The Celebration of the Christian Mystery", discusses liturgy and the Sacraments. Part Three, "Life in Christ", covers moral life - particularly in light of the Beatitudes and the Ten Commandments. Part Four is on Christian Prayer.

The text is both difficult and joyful to read. It is difficult (in some places) because of the unfamiliar vocabulary - catechesis, pedagogy, asceticism, fecundity - these are not part of our every day vocabulary (although many should be learned by high schoolers). Even so, the new edition has an in-depth glossary in the back and these more unfamiliar words come up once every few paragraphs rather than every other sentence. It is joyful to read because it is so rich, so beautiful, so true. Throughout the text, the reader is referred to Sacred Scripture, Church documents and the writings of the Saints. An additional volume The Companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published by Ignatius Press, provides the text from all of the footnotes for easy reference and further study.

A few sample passages:

(407) "The doctrine of original sin, closely connected with that of redemption by Christ, provides lucid discernment of man's situation and activity in the world. By our first parents' sin, the devil has acquired a certain domination over man, even though man remains free. Original sin entails 'captivity under the power of him who thenceforth had the power of death, that is, the devil.' Ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action and morals."

(1395) "By the same charity that it enkindles in us, the Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins. The more we share the life of Christ and progress in his friendship, the more difficult it is to break away from him by mortal sin. The Eucharist is not ordered to the forgiveness of mortal sins - that is proper to the sacrament of Reconciliation. The Eucharist is properly the sacrament of those who are in full communion with the Church."

(2521) "Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity."

(2712) "Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more. But he knows that the love he is returning is poured out by the Spirit in his heart, for everything is grace from God. Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son."

Many beautiful writings of the Saints are included (in addition to those which are merely footnoted), such as this passage from St. Ignatius of Loyola (taken from the Spiritual Exercises):

"Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved."

This book belongs in every Catholic home. It should be read over, and prayed over, and cried over, and smiled over often.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

Copyrights 1994/1997

Review Date: 
1-20-01
Reviewed by: