Friday, November 18, 2011

The Catechism

I've never been daunted by using the Catechism, but I would be cowed by the idea of reading the whole thing, as I have heard some people say they have done (and recommend to others). Sort of like the dictionary--I love words, I need the book for what I do in life, I even find it to be enriching and interesting reading material. But the whole thing....

I would not be surprised if Julie Davis were one of those who have read the whole thing. She shares an RCIA talk she gave about the Catechism, and it was a handy little primer for me, even though I already know how to use the Catechism.

Think of it as the sort of encyclopedia from the days when all we had were books ... when you would sit down to look up facts about the moon and get pulled into other sections because they were so fascinating.

Of course, when you have a two thousand year old institution whose goal is to help get us to Heaven, they don’t think quite the way we do about organization.

The Catechism is arranged in four main sections that are often called the “Four Pillars” of the Faith:
  • The Profession of Faith (the Apostle’s Creed)
  • The Celebration of the Christian Mystery (the Sacred Liturgy, especially the sacraments)
  • Life in Christ (including The Ten Commandments in Catholic theology)
  • Christian Prayer (including The Lord’s Prayer)

Interesting for me also was the following about the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur:
A word of warning though ... if you see a book that only has a Nihil Obstat, be cautious. It may be in error. This happened in the 1960s a lot and some of those books contained incorrect material, even heretical material. You need the double-check system to be sure something didn’t slip by someone. That is why if one bishop gave the Nihil Obstat, another bishop has to give the Imprimatur.
I had been taught pretty much the reverse: that you really need to make sure that a book has the Nihil Obstat to make sure that no error has slipped in because 1) the words nihil obstat "nothing hinders" are what means the book is free from error, and 2) it's happened from time to time that a heterodox (or just careless?) bishop gives permission (imprimatur, "let it be printed") for something with moral or doctrinal error to be published. (No examples, just that's what I was told.)

I typically just look for both. I've seen books with only an Imprimatur; I don't remember seeing any with only a Nihil Obstat, but I'm sure they exist.

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