Baltimore Catechism or New Catholic Catechism? You decide


Parishioners at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada often notice the changes in the liturgy. Things seem to be going back to the old Latin Mass. Some parishioners complain about this. Many old timers were in a rush to see the old Latin Mass go away. One parishioner noted that there are many foreign words in our liturgy.

We now say, “Kyrie, eleison.” One old timer parishioner complained, “It is all Greek to me.” There was nothing to respond but, “It is all Greek to me too.” The original letters are, “Κύριε ελέησον.” The phrase is Greek. The Latin is “Dominus misericordiam” Another foreign word is “Amen.” The word is Hebrew. “Hosanna in the Highest” transliterates הושענא בִהעֶלְיוֹן. The phrase is Hebrew, not Latin. The Latin is “Glory in ExcellciusDei.”

St. Thomas Aquinas, patron saint of our Cathedral in Reno Nevada

The New Catechism came with the ‘60s. Because of the GI Bill, more people were going to college and people were better educated. That is no longer the case. For thirty years, budget cuts have ruled the politics of America. As a result, people are not as well educated as they were thirty years ago.

Because of lower wages, people who might otherwise go to Catholic school now go to secular school and miss the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children entirely. Many attending Catholic school do not seem to know their catechism very well. Parish staff complains that many parents view baptism, not as rebirth into the Mystical Body of Christ, but as a ceremony no different from christening a ship. Parochial education is clearly missing at home as well.

St. Augustine standing over and guarding the Mystical Body of Christ, the Eucharist, and our humble parish

In this new world order, there is something to be said about that old Baltimore Catechism. Learning by rote, is learning with no depth. Our grandparents learning this way has contributed to the problem. Still, there is something to be said about learning why we are here on this earth as related in the Baltimore Catechism:

1. Question. Who made the world?
Answer. God made the world.

2. Question. Who is God?
Answer. God is the Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things.

3. Question. What is man?
Answer. Man is a creature composed of body and soul, and made to the image and likeness of God.

6. Question. Why did God make you?
Answer. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.

The Baltimore Catechism follows the scholastic dialectic style and is very simple. Children learning this know why they are on this planet. They grasp very early, who they are and who they are in relation to God.

10. Question. How shall we know the things, which we are to believe?
Answer. We shall know the things, which we are to believe from the Catholic Church, through which God speaks to us.

11. Question. Where shall we find the chief truths, which the Church teaches?
A. We shall find the chief truths, which the Church teaches in the Apostles’ Creed.

Using the Baltimore Catechism our children also learn that they are not by themselves, but are part of larger community, the Roman Catholic Church. They also study the Apostle’s Creed where they begin to understand they are not by themselves, but are part of a grander whole, the Roman Catholic Church, the Mystical Body of Christ and a world that is grander still.

When Vatican II arrived, and later, the New Catechism, fallen away Catholics, Protestants, and those outside of our Holy Mother Church bitterly complained that the church really did not change, only the packaging did.

St. Anthony at our parish. The humble cross behind the brilliance of St. Augustine and the great heart of St. Francis. We are a Franciscan parish.

Our response is, “You are right! Our church did not change. It still teaches the same truths it always did. God’s truth does not change states Hebrews 13:8. We still teach the Corporal Works of Mercy, and the Spiritual Works of Mercy. We still teach that we are One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. We still teach Church Militant and Church Triumphant. We still teach that the church is the Mystical Body of Christ.

Our teaching has put on a new packaging, one appropriate for the wiser ‘60s and ‘70s, but regrettably, not so well suited to our modern times. At our St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in Reno Nevada, and in our Diocese of Reno, we need to return to the wiser teachings of the Baltimore Catechism, while retaining the modern teaching methods of more recent times. We need to remember, that chief among the Scholastics was St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron saint of our Cathedral and St. Augustine whose portrait graces our altar.

A Franciscan parish, we can never forget St. Francis.
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One thought on “Baltimore Catechism or New Catholic Catechism? You decide

  1. Pingback: On creation science versus evolution part 2 limits on the evolution theory « The stories of Curtis and Salvador

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