One of my goals this year was to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Like a New Year’s resolution, this has been a goal of mine quite a few times. I would start reading the CCC, but then eventually move on to something else. However, after completing Bible in a Year in 2021, I had a fresh resolve to make it through the CCC. In terms of page count, the Catechism is much shorter than the Bible. But it is packed with theological nutrients for the soul.
What the CCC is and is Not
I always thought the Catechism was a rulebook of dry “do this, not that” stanzas. I believed this because whenever I heard someone quote the CCC, it was mostly with the intent of correcting someone’s views of the Catholic Church. And while it certainly lays out various rules, it does so in the context of Church history, teachings, and the Bible. It’s a “do this, not that BECAUSE…” And the “because” is the important part.
The CCC breaks down into a few main sections.
- The Creed
- The Sacraments
- The 10 Commandments
Densely-Packed Spiritual Nutrients
Each one of these sections is like a strand of DNA — they are densely packed with information about the nature of God and our relationship with him. One strand of human DNA contains 3 billion base pairs in a 6-micron space. If you were to uncoil all your DNA in all your cells, it would stretch across the diameter of the solar system twice (link)!
The same principle goes with the Catechism. It takes words we profess like “I believe”, “one, holy, catholic, apostolic”, “Our Father”, “Hail Mary”, and “Though shalt not…” and uncoils their meanings over hundreds, if not thousands, of words. And while someone like me cannot recall the details of any single section of the CCC, it does provide the soul satisfying theological nutrients when regularly consumed.
Fuel for the Soul
The Catechism provides a fuller context for other spiritual practices such as Rosary prayer or the Liturgy of the Hours. The goal of my RosaryMeds website and books are to provide context and inspiration for the Holy Rosary. The CCC provides a greater context for the entire Catholic faith. I’m disappointed I didn’t discover the beauty and value of the Catechism until recently. But better late than never!
Here’s a little historical fact on the Catechism. The book that we reference today is relatively young. Saint John Paul II introduced it in 1992. I always thought the Catechism was something that dated back to the early Church. And while the teachings do, the book itself does not. There have been catechisms throughout the Church’s history, but they’ve been regional; written for specific audiences, and with emphasis on different topics. I think my next goal will be to read some of these older catechisms like the Baltimore Catechism. I hope I can build on my momentum of reading the Bible and the CCC and continue reading Catholic literature regularly.