Catechism: You Don’t Know Squat

Anabelle Hazard - You Dont Know Squat

It’s really too bad that while the legal profession mandates continuing education for its members to maintain their licenses, the Catholic Church won’t revoke a Catholic’s status for failure to continue learning about his faith. I don’t huff this out with a self-righteous tsk tsk, demanding the excommunication of poorly catechized Catholics. Rather, I snuffle out a deep sigh that the incentive to study our rich faith isn’t so imminent, when more than a profession is at stake. Regrettably, the consequences of our ignorance becomes apparent only on Judgment Day when there are no do-overs.

I’ve been schooled in Catholic schools for all my educated life, and yet there were several eye openers in store for me during my adult years. The most unpleasant of surprises was when I discovered that I was taught erroneous opinions and heresy contrary to the Magisterium. From that, the one lesson I know is this: I don’t know squat about everything, and I will spend eternity learning even more.

Though we have a Church that loves to keep teaching us, it is up for us to seek out continuing education. Here are five concrete ways to learn more about our faith:

1. Aim to be more than a Sunday Catholic. The Eucharist “is the source and summit of all Christian life.” (Catechism 1324) When we receive Our Lord more than our Sunday obligation demands, “the fruit of Eucharistic graces” (1390) will correspondingly multiply in our souls and help us “achieve intimate union with Jesus Christ” (1391). Additionally, listening to scripture and reflecting on the homily fosters the word of God to be instrumental in our spiritual growth and transformation.

2. Study the Catechism. Blessed Pope John Paul II promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church “to renew the whole life of the Catholic Church.”  If you don’t know where to start, pick a subject in the glossary and you will be referred to straightforward teachings vis-a vis opinions and heresy. The footnotes are helpful in cross-referencing to other the Church documents where more detailed writings are threshed out.

3. Read the saints biographies and their writings. Catechism 2683 states that: “The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom of God, especially those recognized as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the examples of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today.”  For the kinesthetic and emotional faith learners, the saints are priceless teachers, since they too were sinners like us, and they inspire us to strive for sanctification. It’s inevitable that after reading about the saints, humility and hope will be our classmates.

4. Know Yourself. A regular examination of conscience and the Sacrament of Reconciliation are incomparable tools to learning, because they reveal to us the sinners we are in the light of Christ’s love and forgiveness, and in that perspective we gain true self-knowledge. St. Augustine taught that knowledge of self is a crucial step to knowledge of God. One without the other endangers us with the pride of the Pharisees.

5. Stay close to Mary. Our Lady was Jesus’ first teacher, and she was His first disciple. When we meditate on her life, and ask for her intercession through the rosary, she will provide us with the appropriate earthly teachers at the perfect teaching moments of our lives. If we consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart, she will be our teacher to hasten our sanctification. St. Louis de Montfort wrote: “[Mary] is a great wonder worker especially in the interior of souls.”

It’s never too late to learn anything. As you study more about your faith, you’ll probably realize that you don’t really know Jack. But you’ll come to know Jesus Christ.

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18 thoughts on “Catechism: You Don’t Know Squat”

  1. I was in the same boat a few years back; 12 years of Catholic school and I don’t think I even heard the word catechism. I realized I was ignorant but I didn’t have to stay that way. I read the Catechism over the course of a year (a little at a time so I could understand it) and then ordered the Basic Catechism Course from Fr. John Harden through the Marian Catechist Apostolate. Teaching CCD also straightened out many of my misconceptions. Your right Anabelle, there is much we can do to know and live our faith.

  2. An article right on target.

    I was also one who also learned—soon after my wife and I were baptized in 2004 as I began to study my new faith—that I had been taught things against the

    It is absolutely vital—especially during the papacy of our new Holy Father who is
    shaking things up considerably—and absolutely enjoyable for Catholics to study
    their faith as the riches and deep joy you will discover within the Catechisms,
    encyclicals, stories of saints, and histories of the Church will sustain and
    build your faith.

    Thank you Annabelle for a great and timely article

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  4. Anabelle, this is wonderful. You summed up everything I have learned in the last 20 years with those five remarkable lessons. What blessings would flow if we embraced these directives wholeheartedly. After reading what you said, I thought about all the people I know who manifest their faith most clearly to me, people who seem to have a sense of equanimity and confidence in their spiritual life, and I know for a fact that these people do the five things you described.

    1. Thank you Jeff. Now, you’ve got me thinking on all the people who have taught me about the spiritual life — which include you and the other intelligent and humble writers of CS.

  5. ” I don’t know squat about everything, and I will spend eternity learning even more.”
    You have a very wierd view of eternity – and I think your time spent digesting the blind justice of the law has skewered your understanding of what a one-on-one relationship
    with Jesus really comprises.

    1. A one on one relationship with Jesus is also a relationship with His Church. Jesus and His Church, the Catholic Church, are One and the Same. The teachings of the Catholic Church are the teachings of Jesus. Many protestants profess to have a relationship with Jesus but many also believe that we do not need church or religion. The many protestants that hold to women ordination, acceptance of homosexual marriage and even abortion (never mind mis-interpreting His Word) shows the result of that. That is what happens when you separate Jesus from His Church. Any evangelization should be done with that in mind and any Catholic Bible reading or study should have the Catechism of the Catholic Church close at hand.

    2. johnny, take it from someone with 12 years of parochial education from
      two orders of very fine nuns – you or Anabelle don’t know squat about the very nature of salvation. The subdued yet vitriolic fundamentalism you emote is not what the CC is about. If you spent half the time on the
      corporeal and spiritual works of mercy instead of plucking specks out of
      everyones eyes the world would be a better place. Maybe your calling is in the contemplative life which would better suit your goals but it is
      certainly not in revoking someones Christian heritage because they
      don’t live up to your expectations.

    3. You misunderstood what I wrote. This is what I meant (and I will paraphrase
      the straightforward DISCLAIMER so you and other readers can better understand
      me) I was not huffing as I said the first sentence and I surely would never
      wish a Catholic excommunicated for poor catechism –because I would have been
      one of those out the door already.
      Rather, I sigh with regret over the lack of incentive to learn and study
      more about the faith when there is so much to learn and love about it. What we
      know about our faith ultimately affects our actions (sin and works of mercy included)
      and determine our destinies (heaven, hell and purgatory). I wish nothing more
      than for all Catholics who have been gifted with the Church to learn from the
      Church to help get them to heaven. Other
      Christians or non-Catholics are not my audience, and I don’t write for them
      because its not my mission to convert –God gave them their own shepherds and it
      isn’t me. I’m sorry that’s not the
      message you got and I am impressed to hear that you believe you know everything
      from 12 years of parochial instruction.
      The saintly inhabitants of heaven must be holding their breaths to learn
      from you in eternity. Godspeed.

    4. ” It’s really too bad that while the legal profession mandates continuing education for its members to maintain their licenses, the Catholic Church won’t revoke a Catholic’s status for failure to continue learning about his faith.”

    5. Writers often make bold and off putting opening lines or headlines to grab attention and then peter it out or explain it as the article unfolds. Don’t read my soul with one statement James. You say more about you with what you post than your accusations against me. And as for heaven, we will constantly be learning about love.

    6. Well, I probably did overreact to your opening remark as it’s
      part of the mindset with certain bloggers at CS. Stand, like in Steven King’s The Stand : good against evil. Stand, like in Custer’s: us against them. There are writers you are affiliated with who would like to throw out Catholics of all persuasion not to mention deny salvation to anyone who doesn’t find the faith. I’m sorry for painting you with that brush.

    7. Please refer to our Mission statement James.

      “One final disclaimer: We seek to further the spirit of charitable discussion. In matters of Church teaching, we tolerate no dissent; but in matters which various opinions may legitimately be held, we tolerate discussion of ideas insofar as they are taken to be intellectual explorations, and not Gospel truths. Not all of our writers agree, for instance, on how to implement Catholic Social Teaching or how to determine the right way to use Natural Family Planning, not all agree on how to protect the Liturgy or how to catechize the Faithful. We are united as obedient Catholics, but please do not attribute the opinions of any one writer to the entire group as a whole. Discussion of these matters aids in the development of clarity and insight, but as said in the previous paragraph, we are Catholic citizens just like you striving for a life of conversion. If you disagree with something in an article, we welcome your thoughts.”

      Great article Anabelle.

    8. Thank you johnnysc. I am glad you saw my point and explained it further for the readers who may misinterpret what I say. God bless you

    9. Your article was excellent and certainly did not need any more clarification. Do not be troubled by those that come by casting insinuations and flashing their ‘catholic’ credentials. God Bless you!

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