Resources - Catechism of the Catholic Church
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How to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Quite early on, the name catechesis was given to the totality of the Church's efforts to make disciples, to help men believe that Jesus is the Son of God so that believing they might have life in his name, and to educate and instruct them in this life, thus building up the body of Christ. [CCC #4]
"Catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life." [CCC #5]
This catechism aims at presenting an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals, in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church's Tradition. Its principal sources are the Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy, and the Church's Magisterium. It is intended to serve "as a point of reference for the catechisms or compendia that are composed in the various countries". [CCC #15]
This catechism is conceived as an organic presentation of the Catholic faith in its entirety. It should be seen therefore as a unified whole. [CCC #18]
The texts of Sacred Scripture are often not quoted word for word but are merely indicated by a reference (cf.). For a deeper understanding of such passages, the reader should refer to the Scriptural texts themselves. Such Biblical references are a valuable working-tool in catechesis. [CCC #19]
The use of small print in certain passages indicates observations of an historical or apologetic nature, or supplementary doctrinal explanations. [CCC #20]
The quotations, also in small print, from patristic, liturgical, magisterial or hagiographical sources, are intended to enrich the doctrinal presentations. These texts have often been chosen with a view to direct catechetical use. [CCC #21]
At the end of each thematic unit, a series of brief texts in small italics sums up the essentials of that unit's teaching in condensed formula. These IN BRIEF summaries may suggest to local catechists brief summary formula that could be memorized. [CCC #22]
The on-line pages of the Catechism of the Catholic Church are broken up into logical units, each containing the appropriate footnotes related to the text therein. These footnotes are not hyperlinked, but should be easily accesssible nonetheless.