Studium Theologicum Salesianum
Salesian Pontifical University : Faculty of Theology - Jerusalem Campus

Up close and personal with
The Catechism of the Catholic Church


Reported by Br. Paul Phuoc Trong Chu, SDB
Jerusalem, 9 October 2013.    
In a crowded room of the Studium Theologicum Salesianum (STS), people anxiously waited for the beginning of the first talk in the context of the upcoming conclusion of the Year of Faith.  Phat Tran Ngoc, the Master of Ceremonies introduced the speaker Deacon Rooney Undar.
Deacon Rooney began his talk with a meditative music video on the Christian song You Are Mine by David Haas.  Then, using the words of the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in the motu propio Porta Fidei, the Deacon introduced the audience consisting of the STS students and professors to the importance of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) “an authentic fruit of the Second Vatican Council.”
            Deacon Rooney exhorted the audience that it is our duty as Catholic Christians to pass on the faith by the use of the CCC.  We must make this “deposit of faith” accessible to the ordinary people and our evangelization must be adaptable to the current cultural context.  The CCC was written to allow the faithful to deepen their understanding of their faith while enabling them to share it with non-baptized and uninitiated.
            Deacon Rooney then proceeded to show the attentive audience the structure of the CCC.  He explained that the CCC is organized in a pedagogical manner.  The Creed, Code, and Cult of the Catholic Church are detailed in 5 themes: the Profession of Faith, the Celebration of the Christian Mystery, Life in Christ and Christian Prayer.  To be “up close and personal” with these 5 themes, the Deacon gave us 5 simple pedagogical steps:

  1. KNOW: We must know the content of the book through disciplined reading.  Rhetorically the Deacon asked, “How often do we waste time reading unnecessary fiction?”
  2. TRUST: We must trust that the CCC is the authentic teaching of Jesus Christ as handed on to the Church.  To distrust the CCC is “to play into the hand of the Devil,” said the Deacon.
  3. SHARE: After absorbing the knowledge and understanding of our faith in the CCC, we must share it with others.
  4. LIVE: Knowledge alone is not sufficient.  With the grace of Christ, the CCC is intended to help us in the practice of Christian virtues.
  5. ADAPT: We must adapt the content and teachings of the CCC to our own needs and that of society, so to “save the soul of society,” says the Deacon.

Commenting on the CCC, the Deacon said, “the Catechism is [made] for the catechumen but is a reference for us Catholics because we should know it already.”  Since the CCC is intended to be a reference book, it is neither easy nor appropriate to read it through like a novel.  However, it gives us a good framework for catechesis.  A catechist does not necessarily teach directly from the CCC, but he or she must refer to it to ensure coherence with the sound teachings of the Magisterium.  Furthermore, catechists are called to be creative in adapting the understanding of the faith to the age level and social context of their learners. 
After the presentation, Deacon Rooney gave everyone a sheet of paper containing a year-long program to read the CCC along with Sacred Scripture.  “Then he took questions from the audience.  A member of the audience asked, “How do you respond to sola fide?”   The Deacon responded concisely, “…by your example of a Christian life.”  An interesting discussion ensued on whether the Catechism of the Catholic Church replaces the need to study theology.  The limited time did not permit a longer discussion so it was concluded with the reemphasis that the CCC is a reference book that assimilates the theology of many centuries and gives rise to further reflection on the truths of faith proceeding from the Word of God.

Another lecture to mark the conclusion of the Year of Faith is scheduled for Wednesday 13th November 3 p.m. The speaker will be James Samynathan.
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