.- To encourage believers during the Year of Faith, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a reflection on the Catechism as a faith resource that is universal in nature, as well as a call to prayer.
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the first book of its kind in 450 years,” said
Alissa Thorell, catechism specialist for the conference’s Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis.
She described the Catechism as “an effort by the world's bishops to convey the content of the Catholic faith to the whole Church and the whole world.”
After the Second Vatican Council, which was held from 1962-65, “it was important for the Church to present its teachings for Catholics living in the modern world,” she said.
On Oct. 31, the U.S. bishops’ conference released reflections by Thorell on "Five Things Catholics Should Know About the Catechism" in order to better understand their faith.
Pope Benedict XVI has called on Catholics to study the Catechism during the ongoing Year of Faith, which runs from Oct. 11, 2012 – Nov. 24, 2013.
The year – which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism – is an opportunity for Catholics to grow in their own faith so that they may witness to others.
The Catechism is universal in both scope and content, Thorell explained. It “compiles the living tradition of the Catholic Church,” which is divided into four sections on beliefs, worship and sacraments, morality and prayer.
“The contents of these four parts are interwoven, providing an organic presentation of the faith,” she said.
Thorell also noted that the Catechism is both “a resource for education” and “an invitation (to) prayer.”
“The main goal of the Catechism is to help bishops, pastors, catechists, parents and all who teach the faith,” she said. “It provides a foundation that encourages dioceses to draw their own teaching materials from it.”
At the same time, it “draws from the richness of Catholic tradition, including the lives of the saints, the teaching documents of the Church and Scripture.”
“This makes it not only useful for learning about the Catholic faith, but for growing in one's faith through meditation and prayer,” Thorell explained.
And despite its length – 700 pages – the Catechism is “for Catholics of all ages,” she said.
Besides the helpful summaries at the end of each section, Thorell recommended the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church – a much shorter document – which makes the Catechism “even more accessible to readers.”
“Learning and living the faith is an ongoing process throughout a person's entire life, and the Catechism can help Catholics come to know and love Christ,” Thorell stressed.