Sunday, January 29, 2012
A MODEST ENDORSEMENT OF THE BALTIMORE CATECHISM
This year I've been using the Baltimore Catechism #1 as the source to keep me organized and methodical. In doing so, I've rediscovered it (as this is what I had in elementary school). It has a wonderful structure; is brief and interesting for children elementary age and it has a brief exam after each chapter.
I have found that the illustrations and examples capture the imagination of the children, their religious imagination and they ask wonderful questions during the course of the time I'm there.
But more importantly it is so simple and yet gives a wonderful foundation to our children for them to grow and develop and learn more as they get older and become adults.
But of course we know that many Catholics don't learn more as they get older. And this too is the genius of the Baltimore Catechism. It gives adults who as children learned the catechism something to go on that is foundational, that can remain with them until the Lord calls them to their personal judgment.
While there are some post-Vatican II nuances that I have to add to this pre-Vatican II catechism, these are rather minor and easily accomplished, but very little needs to be changed. After all it is the same Church before and after Vatican II--there is continuity, not rupture.
Almost everyone universally believes that the catechetical materials we have substituted for the Baltimore Catechism have not lived up to what was hoped for. In fact we have two to three generations who are illiterate in the Catholic faith for they did not have the foundational information contained in the Baltimore Catechism nor do these new catechetical materials in any way capture the religious imagination of our young children as the Baltimore Catechism does.
On top of that there are so many materials available that there is little or no consistency. In pre-Vatican II times in America, every Catholic in elementary and high school was taught from the same text book what is foundational for all Catholics to have a least a simple grasp of. All Catholic children in the USA were on the same page and what great unity that brought to us in our Catholic Faith.
On top of that sometimes these new materials give complex religious thought and ideas to our children before they get what is truly succinct and foundational which the Baltimore Catechism does extremely well.
With that said, much more must be built upon the foundation that the Baltimore Catechism gives, but the foundation the Baltimore Catechism gives will support the weight of weightier religious content which should follow. But again, if much more is not recieved by the adult Catholic, at least he will have a foundation given to him from the Baltimore Catechism.