When my wife and I got married, as a wedding gift, my Aunt gave us a copy of The Catechism of the Catholic Church. I have decided I would pull it off of the dust shelf where it has sat for the last 10 years and crack it open. Question I have what is the best way to go about using it to educate myself? Does one start at page 1 and attempt to read it through to the end? Or is something like an encyclopedia that you would go to when you want to know more about a specific topic?
As much as I love to read the CCC is some of the most difficult reading I have ever done. So, I hope you get some great suggestions! In addition, I do feel that it is extremely important to know the Church’s official position on many issues so it can and should be used as a reference book when in doubt on our teachings,
Do you have the Second Edition? There have been some changes in the vocabulary.
Start with paragraph 18, Practical Directions for Using this Catechism, page 11. Paragraphs 20-21 are important. Become familiar with the Glossary starting on page 864. When you find an interesting paragraph(s) check out the cross references in the margin. The Index of Citations, starting on page 869, is valuable. The regular Index starts on page 752.The Contents pages will help you decide where to start.
Personally, I liked reading the documents at the beginning of the book. I also like reading footnotes.
Often, the CCC will be referenced in a thread. One could start there. On your wedding anniversary, you could review the Sacrament of Matrimony. I am not sure where it is, but there is a paragraph that says that husbands should take out the trash and do the dishes every other night. And there is another paragraph which says that the wife has charge of the remote.:rolleyes:
If you are interested in the faith, or coming back to it, you might be interested in getting Father Barron’s study book on Catholicism. It has many different aspects to the faith with annotations in the book, directing you to certain parts of the Cathecism that speak to the issue being addressed in the book. It jumps around the Cathecism, but it focuses on each of the topics covered in Father Barron’s book. It was a great resource, I thought. It was a very interesting way to read the Cathecism as I applied it to Father Barron’s passages
The catechism is imposing in size, but don’t be overwhelmed by the size.
I read it a couple years ago. My reading goal was 10 pages per day, and I often exceeded that. It is not as hard to read it as I thought it would be.
But, don’t just skim the words, really read them. You may meet the goal of 10 pages per day or maybe just five pages. But, whatever, just keep reading.
There is supposedly a companion volume that expands all the footnotes, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time looking up a verse or giving up on quotes from documents you might not otherwise ever find.
I didn’t look up footnotes exensively on my first read-through.
I’m thinking about reading it again, with that companion volume nearby.
Use a pen and/or yellow marker to highlight whatever seems especially important.
Use a contrasting colored marker like pink or blue if you find something difficult, so you can go back to those sections more quickly.
The fourth section of the catechism is on prayer. It’s about 60 pages. WHEW. That’s a lot to say about prayer, and if you’re anything like me, it’s going to take longer to read and let this stuff settle in.
I was given a gift by a Catechist in my RCIA class which was a little book called “Day by Day with the Catechism”. I think it’s very useful as you can look at the ref to CCC along with a prayer. The ref to the CCC likely will not be the entire passage, but it gets you to go and read that. And if you are doing that, in the CCC it ref church documents as well as Scripture. So you won’t go thru the CCC quickly, but you’ll be doing a comprehensive study of CCC, Scripture and church documents!
Any study of the Catechism starts with an understanding of how it is structured. The Catechism has four sections, or “Pillars”.
**1st Pillar: The Profession of Faith (Creed) **
*]Paragraphs 26 through 1065
*]St. Augustine said that the creed is God’s plan of salvation in “Tightly wound form”.
*]This first pillar is based on Scripture. The other three pillars depend on knowing the plan for our salvation as laid out in 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.
**2nd Pillar: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery (Sacraments and Liturgy) **
*]Paragraphs 1066 through 1698
*]How we get into the story and how we take part in God’s plan through the sacraments, and how we fit in to God’s Kingdom on Earth, his Church.
**3rd Pillar: Our Life in Christ **
*]Paragraphs 1691 through 2550
*]Moral theology - 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.
**4th Pillar: Christian Prayer **
*]Paragraphs 2558 through 2865
*]Prayer is intimate communication with our Creator and the Lover of our Souls.
*]Prayer ensures the first three pillars.
*]Covers the most sublime and most perfect prayer, the “Our Father.”
Be conscious of what section you are in so you know the context; 1) what we believe, 2) how we worship, 3) how we act and interact with others, and, 4) how we communicate with the Creator in prayer.
Remember to read the Catechism with Scripture and in the context of Scripture. Scripture and the Catechism are inseparable. Always read the Catechism with the Bible nearby and use the scripture references in the footnotes of the Catechism. Referencing everything back to the breathed word of God in the Scriptures will make the Catechism come alive.
One thing you may want to consider is starting with the of the Catechism of the Catholic ChurchCompendium. The Compendium is a shorter summary of the CCC with references to the more in depth paragraphs of the CCC on each topic. As explained by Pope Benedict XVI in his Motu Proprio approving the publication of the Compendium:
The Compendium, which I now present to the Universal Church, is a faithful and sure synthesis of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It contains, in concise form, all the essential and fundamental elements of the Church’s faith, thus constituting, as my Predecessor had wished, a kind of vademecum which allows believers and non-believers alike to behold the entire panorama of the Catholic faith.
In its structure, contents and language, the Compendium faithfully reflects the Catechism of the Catholic Church and will thus assist in making the Catechism more widely known and more deeply understood.
. . .
[T]his Compendium, with its brevity, clarity and comprehensiveness, is directed to every human being, who, in a world of distractions and multifarious messages, desires to know the Way of Life, the Truth, entrusted by God to His Son’s Church.
The shorter, easier to understand (at least to me) summary paragraphs of the Compendium may help you better go about tackling the more in depth CCC.
I’ve read the Catechism straight through and, while that exercise is not completely without value, it tends to become more of a slog because it is a long, dense book with rich and complex material.
I think the real value of the Catechism is when it is used as a reference to clarify whatever particular Church teaching on whatever topic you happen to be interested in or studying. It’s excellent for Bible study especially, since the full size edition has a list of Scripture citations in the back. So if you are studying, say, the Book of Isaiah, you can do so with the Bible in one hand and the Catechism in the other, looking up those sections in which the Catechism comments on particular Scripture passages or verses. I use it extensively in preparing my weekly Scripture study, which you can find at the link below.
I think it’s both. If you are reading it for the first time I recommend starting at the beginning. That’s what I did. You don’t have to read the whole thing through. You can also jump around to topics that interest you. But, it’s good to start at the beginning because it explains the faith there.
I dont really think of a “study of the Catechism” but rather the Catechism as a study tool of the Catholic faith. It’s like asking how to study an encyclopedia. In my view its topical.
I’ve found that using the Index Analyticus is a good and efficient and interesting way to read the Catechism. You can find it at