How Does one Read and Interpret the Catechism?


How do you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church?


Carefully. Very carefully.



You can read it cover to cover, you can read it by topic or if you are looking for a little mystery, you can open it anywhere and start reading from there. :shrug:


i read it by topics…find it works best for me that way…


It helps to understand the structure of the Catechism. The Catechism has four sections, or “Pillars”.

Pillar 1 - The Profession of Faith: What we believe
*]Follows the Nicene Creed.
*]Paragraphs 26 through 1065
*]St. Augustine said that the creed is God’s plan of salvation in “Tightly wound form”.
*]Summary: This first pillar is based on Scripture. Scripture tells us God’s plan for our salvation, and the Profession of Faith (creed) is a highly condensed summary of God’s plan for our salvation.The other three pillars depend on knowing the plan for our salvation as laid out in scripture.

Pillar 2 - The Celebration of the Christian Mystery: Sacraments and Liturgy
*]How we worship in the sacraments and liturgy
*]Paragraphs 1066 through 1698
*]Summary: How we get into the story of our salvation; how we take part in God’s plan for salvation through the sacraments and how we fit in to God’s Kingdom on Earth, his Church.

Pillar 3: Life in Christ: Moral Theology
*]Paragraphs 1691 through 2550
*]Summary: How we live our lives as Christians. How we interact with Christians, non-Christians and all of God’s creation. How we live out God’s plan for our salvation and advance his Kingdom on Earth for the salvation of others.

**Pillar 4: Christian Prayer **
*]Paragraphs 2558 through 2865
*]Follows the most sublime and most perfect prayer, the “Our Father.”
*]Summary: Prayer is intimate communication with our Creator and the Lover of our Souls. Prayer ensures the first three pillars.

Pay attention to what “Pillar” you are in. Remember to read the Catechism with Scripture and in the context of Scripture. Scripture and the Catechism are inseparable. Use the footnotes to reference back to Scripture. Always have a Bible with you when you read the Catechism.

This should get the OP started.



=adawgj;11861510]How do you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church?

As for reading; the most recent and BY FAR easiest to read and understand is the ***“UNITED STATES CATHOLIC CATECHISM FOR ADULTS” ***written for the laity. The Other Catechism were primarily intended for Teachers of the Faith; Bishops, Priest, Religios and trained Laity.

As for understanding it. While it often quotes the bible and other sources; it’s primary liteary style is “literal.” The authors have tried to remove as much mystery as possible.:slight_smile:

God Bless you,


I agree, this is s great text. Lots of references, even from saints. Also a mditation and study questions.


All great suggestions! If I may add one more. Invoke the Holy Spirit at every start of your Catechism reading. (Just like before reading My Imitation of Christ.)

Simply say “O come, Holy Spirit” will suffice as He needs only an invitation. He will come to enlighten you on what you read.




I use it as a reference.


I have raised the question of how to interpret paragraph 1735 of the catechism, which says that under some circumstances, a gravely evil action may not necessarily be a mortal sin, requiring confession.

leads to “the slavery of sin.”28 (1803)

1734 Freedom makes man responsible for his acts to the extent that they are voluntary. Progress in virtue, knowledge of the good, and ascesis enhance the mastery of the will over its acts. (1036, 1804)

1735 Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors. (597)

MY QUESTION is, suppose I feel that my action falls under 1735. In other words, if I didn’t have this habit or irrational attraction to something, I probably wouldn’t be doing this otherwise gravely evil thing. For example, suppose someone has a same-sex attraction. Wouldn’t that be a “psychological factor” that reduces the imputabillity of responsibility for engaging in a same-sex act?

If 1735 does not apply to that situation, then what can 1735 possibly mean?


Similarly…with a nun who wears a habit :wink:


Start with “Practical Directions For Using This Catechism”
page 11, paragraphs 18 -22. The use of small print is especially helpful, [FONT=“Arial”]CCC, 20-21.[/FONT]

Consult the Glossary, starting on page 864, for good definitions of key words or concepts.

Follow the cross-references in the margins.

Checking footnotes can be very interesting.

The Index of Citations, starting on page 689, is useful if one wonders if a particular Scripture reference or writings from the Church Fathers, Church Councils, etc. appear in the Catechism.

Accept the fact that this Catechism is not a page-turner.

Finally, enjoy!


And you read it according to the “mind” by which it is written-the Church.


CCC, 1735 has to be coupled with the word voluntary in CCC 1734 which you have above. The cross-reference in the margin, CCC, 1804 also must be applied. Is engaging in a same-sex act voluntary? Was there a plan to be in the same place as the “partner”? If one or more factors in CCC, 1735 are in play than the voluntary aspect is reduced, etc. These are general considerations since I am not qualified to make an exact judgment call. When in doubt, the person should talk with the priest in confession or in an appointment for counseling by someone qualified. Same-sex attraction problems will not be a surprise.

As for combining this with CCC, 1804, in any case, the person should develop needed virtues. “With God’s help, they forge character and give facility in the practice of the good.” Read CCC, 1731-1733. I did not check the cross-references in the margin; however, it is recommended that one learn as much as possible about the need for virtues. One could pick any section in the Catechism’s Contents. Part Four: Christian Prayer caught my eye. Personally, I like short prayers like the Hail Mary or Our Father. Still, I would recommend continue reading the chapters in this Part Four.

Every person should take advantage of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Come five minutes early for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, so that one can train his or her mind to focus on the Mass or should I say focus on every word in the Mass. Personally, I have never been able to do this; however, I am trying to pick parts where my “attention” is the best possible. Naturally, receiving Holy Communion is a marvelous moment. But even then, I am trying to quiet my distractions so I can lay my head on Jesus’ heart.


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