46 The Fatima Crusader | Summer 2016 OUR CATHOLIC CATECHISM: Authentic Apostolic Teaching on Faith and Truth In this edited excerpt of a speech given by Father Phillipson at the Our Lady’s Army of Advocates conference in Boston, Massachusetts recently, he gives us an in-depth explanation of the importance of a sound Catholic catechism which is consistent and true to the unchang- ing Apostolic teachings of the Church. by Father David Phillipson T he Catechism comes from the Latin word catechismus: which means “to teach”. This is especially important today, because there’s so much teaching going on from the very places that we would hope to find it in a secure way, that the issue of catechism is so important. It’s not just any teaching, but it needs to be authentic. The authentic teaching comes from the Apostles. That was a lightbulb that certainly went oﬀ in my mind, when I started reading the Catechism, and realizing the Catholic Faith – the Faith – was not just any old teaching I might feel good about adhering to, but there was an actual body or deposit, an objective norm set of truths, which need to be believed with faith. So the Catechism is a body of teaching, a body of truths: also called the Deposit of Faith. It’s kind of like in a bank. Let’s say you have a thousand dollars in the bank and you expect to be able to ﬁnd that there in the bank at any given point in time. So, you should be able to ﬁnd the teachings of the Catholic Church – the Catechism – anywhere and everywhere you could legitimately look for it. On that note, that’s the reason why we should all have a catechism, right? This is not a catechism question, but I think it should be in the Catechism: “Which is more important – your Bible or your Catholic Catechism?” For example, if you are stranded on a desert island – you’re the only one there – and you could only bring one book with you, which would it be: a Bible or a catechism? The answer should be a catechism because the Bible is sometimes hard to
46 The Fatima Crusader | Summer 2016
OUR CATHOLIC CATECHISM:
Authentic Apostolic Teaching on Faith and Truth
In this edited excerpt of a speech given by Father Phillipson at the Our Lady’s Army of Advocates conference in Boston, Massachusetts recently, he gives us an in-depth explanation of the importance of a sound Catholic catechism which is consistent and true to the unchang-ing Apostolic teachings of the Church.
by Father David Phillipson
The Catechism comes from the Latin word catechismus: which means
“to teach”. This is especially important today, because there’s so much teaching going on from the very places that we would hope to find it in a secure way, that the issue of catechism is so important. It’s not just any teaching, but it needs to be authentic. The authentic teaching comes from the Apostles.
That was a lightbulb that certainly went off in my mind, when I started reading the Catechism, and realizing the Catholic Faith – the Faith – was not just any old teaching I might feel good about adhering to, but there was an actual body or deposit, an objective norm set of truths, which need to be believed with faith. So the Catechism is a body of teaching,
a body of truths: also called the Deposit of Faith. It’s kind of like in a bank. Let’s say you have a thousand dollars in the bank and you expect to be able to find that there in the bank at any given point in time. So, you should be able to find the teachings of the Catholic Church – the Catechism – anywhere and everywhere you could legitimately look for it.
On that note, that’s the reason why we should all have a catechism, right? This is not a catechism question, but I think it should be in the Catechism: “Which is more important – your Bible or your Catholic Catechism?” For example, if you are stranded on a desert island – you’re the only one there – and you could only bring one book with you, which would it be: a Bible or a catechism? The answer should be a catechism because the Bible is sometimes hard to
The Fatima Crusader | Summer 2016 47
understand, as St. Peter said of St. Paul’s writing.
How are we going to interpret the Bible? Many different interpretations are available to us as witnessed by the forty-plus thousand protestants who all believe they have the definitive interpretation of the Bible – yet they’re all contradictory. So, how are we to know what to believe from the Bible, if it were not for the Catholic Church to teach us, and to synthesize that teaching in a body of truths called the teachings – the Catechism. So, the Catechism isn’t any old teaching, it’s what the Church has taught from the Apostles, and it’s authentic when it’s consistent, and true to the Apostolic teaching. This teaching does not change.
We should all have a catechism. You might say: “Well, which catechism?” “Which catechism should I have?” Let’s start first with the catechisms you should not have! Or – I dare say – which catechisms I wouldn’t recommend. I wouldn’t recommend a catechism that I studied quite thoroughly – the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, published around 1994 – even though we may say about ninety to ninety-five percent of
it represents Catholic teaching, Catholic truth. Nevertheless, aside from some of the erroneous teachings it contains – which are derived from the Second Vatican Council – much of the true Catholic teaching that it contains is contextualized in modern philosophies (anthropomorphisms). It is centered on man, and is a modern psychological way of thinking.
Therefore, even though what you may be reading is true, the way it’s being presented could lead someone astray. For example, in its thinking that man is the be-all, end-all, of creation, instead of God – something like that. So I wouldn’t recommend the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church or anything derived from it, precisely for those and many other reasons.
That leaves us with – if we want to start at the basics, which I certainly would encourage everyone to do – the Penny Catechism, or the Baltimore Catechism I or II.
I remember not too long ago, I was trying to help a retired man in his seventies. He sometimes consults with me on different things. I had insisted that he learn and read the Catechism but he said: “I’ve already done that”.
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What he’s referring to is, when he was confirmed back as a high school student. So, he thinks he already knows the Catechism, because he had to learn it when he was fourteen years old.
He didn’t recognize that, as an adult, his mind has changed. Therefore, that mind needs to be continually re-educated. As the Canon Law states, every Catholic needs to be in an ongoing formation process in catechesis – whatever that might entail, such as daily reading of the Catechism, or weekly reading of the Catechism.
There should be some kind of catechetical formation going on in every Catholic person’s life! That means reading the Catechism: and coming to conferences like this. Even though conferences aren’t strictly catechetical, they touch upon catechetical truths. This is a way of being reminded and being renewed in the understanding of Catholic teaching. You’ll hear speakers refer to Catholic Truth in their talks. This is the way, of course, it was always done, right? It was done orally, in the beginning: contrary to the way the Protestants might present the Faith, as if it was falling down from Heaven in written form!
Nevertheless, initially, even in the Catholic Church, still pastorally, it’s done person-to- person. It’s done as a teaching; then you make the decision whether to embrace that teaching, in your mind and then in your life.
Conferences Renew Your Catechetical Understanding
So, coming to conferences like this is another way to be renewed in your catechetical understanding and to bring it up to an adult level. Even for adults, it’s sometimes helpful to begin with the beginning catechetical texts – just in case the more advanced ones get a little too difficult to handle.
We want to begin where we’re comfortable and move through it. I would guarantee to most everyone here – if you haven’t read a catechism recently, you’d be surprised as to what is contained in there as you ask yourself: “Do I really believe this? When’s the last time I heard this from the pulpit? Is this really the Catholic teaching? Is this really Catholic truth?” Yes, it is – if it’s in a Baltimore or Penny Catechism.
So, we might begin there in terms of what would be a good Catechism to start with? Obviously, every adult should,
Spiritual Graces Flow at Our Boston Conference
First Holy Communion Father David Phillipson Teaching Catechism
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at some point, attain to the level within the Baltimore Catechism III or IV, which is really a Confirmation level of catechesis. We should all have read at least to the level of a Baltimore III or Baltimore IV Catechism, which gives a lot of background.
If we really want to delve into the subject, I would certainly advise all parents with children to have a catechetical level, or at least to have been exposed to having read from cover to cover, the Catechism of the Council of Trent. It is a hefty book, but is still something that we should strive for, read from, especially as needed.
Finally, my all-time favorite Catechism – as of late – is The Catechism Explained (out of print). It is a hefty 700-plus page book, but it is worth its weight in gold! It’s very illuminating. It is filled with stories from the lives of the saints, and what they’ve said. It is very interesting, and doesn’t just teach the Faith in a dry manner; it embellishes it with real life stories that help us understand how the Faith is translated into our lives.
Hopefully, we’ll all want to be involved in an ongoing information process in catechesis, and knowing our Faith. We really do need to know
our Faith. If we were in a desert, we really would have to pack a lot of water with us or we would dehydrate very quickly!
We are now in an ecclesiastical environment in which we need to know our Faith. We cannot expect to get the kind of catechesis that might have normally been in place in sermons fifty years ago. We cannot expect to have the kind of catechetical awareness that would come from sermons, as was the case long ago.
We need to assume responsibility – as we ought to – for our own instruction, because our salvation will depend upon having the truth, having the Catholic Faith. Therefore, for our own sake and for the sake of others, we ought to know our Faith – knowing and adhering to it, and then being able to live it and pass it on.
The Apostles Creed
I’d like to speak about how the Apostles Creed, the teaching of the Catholic Church, is enshrined in a kind of formulaic way. The fundamental truths of the Catholic Faith are enshrined in the first Creed, the Apostles Creed. Why is it called the Apostles Creed? Because it comes from the apostles. Tradition would have it that
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each of the twelve apostles contributed to one of the twelve Articles of Faith contained in the Apostles Creed. How many Articles of the Faith are there in the Apostles Creed? The answer is twelve. Where do they come from? From the twelve apostles. So we’re getting it right from the horse’s mouth, right where we need to be getting it from – the Apostles Creed.
The Creed comes from the Latin word Credo. The Creed goes all the way back to the beginning. Creeds were first called sýmbolon – symbol in English. Creeds were called a symbol, not because of the way we use that word today – representing something that doesn’t really exist. Rather, in the Greek understanding of what a symbol was, ‘sym’ means together and ‘bolon’ means to throw or to put together. The Creed is something that is put together.
What is being put together? Well let’s understand how the word ‘symbol’ functioned in Greek culture, before it was ever applied to the Creeds of the Catholic Faith. Symbols were used in the following ways: Let’s say Antonius is coming from Athens, and heading over on a business venture to Pompeii. He stays at the Bed and Breakfast of
Achilles and does his business there in Pompeii.
Antonius and Achilles now strike up a friendship. Achilles says: “You know what? Anytime you’re in the neighborhood, please come and visit. I would love to see you again.” Antonius is now travelling back to Athens, and he says to Achilles: “Well, many years could pass before I come again. You might not recognize me. How are you going to know that I’m the guy you told could come to your place anytime?”
Achilles tells him: “I have a coin. I am going to break this coin in half. I’ll give you one half, and I’ll keep the other half of that coin. So whenever you come back to this area of Pompeii, just show me your half of the coin, and I’ll make sure it fits in my half, then I’ll know who you are. I won’t take your word for it, I’ll know you are the man I told to come visit me at any time.”
As it turns out, Antonius doesn’t make it back to Pompeii, but his son decides – as he’s growing older and into adulthood – he wants to visit Pompeii himself. Antonius says to his son: “Make sure you take this half coin and go to Achilles’ place. Bring this half coin to him so he will know who you are,
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and will allow you to stay in his house.”
That’s exactly what the son does. He takes the coin, knocks on the door and says: “Hello! You should know me, or at least my Father.” Achilles says: “I don’t know you from Adam!” The son says: “I have the coin.” Achilles takes out his half of the coin, and finds they match. The two pieces of coin go together, so Achilles says to the son: “Yes, now I know who you are. Now I know you belong here, you are welcome here.” Sýmbolon. It was a symbol that comes together and fits. I can recognize who you are by the conjunction of these two broken coins.
That’s how the Creed functions: as a symbol. That is, your half of the coin is the truths of the Catholic Faith.
Who’s going to recognize you with those truths inside your mind and heart? God will recognize you! He’ll say: “Yes, you belong! You’ve got the other half of the coin. I have a half of the coin because I am Truth itself. Since you believe these truths I have revealed, now I recognize you as one of Mine. You are My sheep and you hear My voice because you hear truth. You have truth because I gave it to you, and it’s now summarized
very beautifully for you in the ‘Creed’.”
You profess the Creed and the Shepherd recognizes and welcomes you. Now you belong together. You now come together with God. You now adhere to God in truth, because you have the truth in the Creed. They come together.
Just to give a distinction, “sýmbolon” might remind you of another similar word – but not exactly the same – “diabolon”. Diabolon might remind you of an English word like diabolical. Diabolical means ‘torn apart, separated’.
That’s the world that we find ourselves in – according to Sister Lucy – the diabolical disorientation. We’re not being taught the truths from the very people that we should be hearing the Catholic truth from: namely priests, bishops and popes. So there is – as Sister Lucy said – a diabolical disorientation, a tearing apart of Christ’s sheep from the Shepherd because they are not being fed on the green pastures of truth. They first have to have truth.|
Order your CD or DVD of the entire speech. See pg. 32.