Wednesday, July 27, 2016

BASIC CATHOLIC DOCTRINES: Formulas of Catholic doctrine and key excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium

Download the one-page Executive Summary here. In PDF here.  

The plan of God for man:  to know and love God 

God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of pure goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. God the Father sent his Son as the Redeemer and Savior of all human beings, fallen into sin, thus calling all into his Church and, through the work of the Holy Spirit, making them adopted children and heirs of his eternal happiness.

God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”, that is, of Jesus Christ. For this reason, Christ must be proclaimed to all according to his own command, “Go forth and teach all nations”.

I. PROFESSION OF FAITH. Faith is man’s response to God who reveals himself and gives himself to man. It means the full surrender of ourselves to God and the acceptance of his truth.

The Apostles’ Creed: summary of the faith of the Apostles. I believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen.

Three offices of Christ, in which all Christians participate: Priest, Prophet and King

Four properties of Christ’s Church: One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic

Four last things: Death, Judgment, Hell and Heaven

II. THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY. Christ makes present his work of salvation through the liturgy. The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church. Through them divine life is given to us as a gift.

Seven sacraments: Sacraments of Christian Initiation:
(1) Baptism, (2) Confirmation, (3) Holy Eucharist. Sacraments of Healing: (4) Penance, (5) Anointing of the Sick. Sacraments at the Service of Communion: (6) Holy Orders, and (7) Matrimony.

III. LIFE IN CHRIST. Through the sacraments, Christians receive the grace which give them the capability of living a new life as children of God in Christ whom they have received in faith. “O Christian, recognize your dignity.” (Saint Leo the Great)  All the faithful are called to Christian holiness. Jesus said “Come, follow Me”. To follow Jesus involves keeping the commandments.

Two commandments of love: the fullness of the law, which interprets the 10 commandments.  (1) You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. (2) You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 

Ten commandments: makes explicit the response of man’s love to God. (1) I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me. (2) You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain. (3) Remember to keep holy the LORD’S day. (4) Honor your father and your mother. (5) You shall not kill. (6) You shall not commit adultery. (7) You shall not steal. (8) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (9) You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. (10) You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.

Three theological virtues: foundation of Christian moral activity. God is their origin, motive and object. Faith, Hope and Charity (Love). Charity, friendship and communion, is the greatest virtue and the goal towards which we run.

Four cardinal virtues: pivotal human virtues which dispose man for communion with divine love. Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance

Eight Beatitudes: depict the countenance of Christ and authentic Christian life. Blessed are: (1) The poor in spirit (2) They who mourn (3) The meek (4) They who hunger and thirst for righteousness, (5) The merciful, (6) The pure of heart, (7) The peacemakers, (8) Those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

Golden Rule: Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Works of mercy.  Corporal: (1) Feed the hungry. (2) Give drink to the thirsty. (3) Clothe the naked.  (4) Shelter the homeless.  (5) Visit the sick. (6) Visit the imprisoned. (7) Bury the dead. Spiritual: (1) Counsel the doubtful. (2) Instruct the ignorant. (3) Admonish sinners. (4) Comfort the afflicted. (5) Forgive offenses. (6)  Bear wrongs patiently. (7) Pray for the living and the dead.

Seven capital sins: engender other sins and vices. (1) Pride.  (2) Avarice (3) Lust  (4) Envy (5) Gluttony (6) Anger (7) Sloth

Common good:  social conditions that allow human fulfillment:  (1) respect for the person, (2) social well-being and development,   (3) peace.

IV: CHRISTIAN PRAYER. Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God. It is the personal and living relationship of the children of God with their Father, with his Son Jesus Christ, and with the Holy Spirit. It ought to animate us at every moment.

Essential forms of Christian prayer: Blessing and adoration, the prayer of petition and intercession, thanksgiving and praise.

Suitable time for prayer. Anytime. To nourish continual prayer, the Church proposes: morning and evening prayer, before and after meals, Liturgy of the Hours, Sunday Eucharist, Rosary and feasts.

Expressions of prayer: Vocal prayer, meditation and contemplation. Common to all is the recollection of the heart.

Our Father: “summary of the Gospel” and “perfect prayer” taught by Jesus. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Download the one-page Executive Summary here. In PDF here.  

These one-page leaflets have started going viral around the world. One leaflet was posted in the website of the Archdiocese of Westminster in London ("The Mother Church of England"), in the Corpus Christi Parish in Canada,  in Kenya and in Macau. To get the full collection, please see this: One Page Leaflets for New Evangelization Going Viral!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Most Important Aspect of Education: A Guide to Catechesis

The most important aspect of educating children is passing on the faith. -- Bishop Javier Echevarria. 

Download the one-page Executive Summary here. In PDF here

This guide, useful for family and parish catechesis and teaching Religion in school, condenses the teachings of the Vatican’s General Directory for Catechesis (GDC), the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), the Popes and the Synod on New Evangelization (Synod).


Begin teaching by helping the learner know and love the one goal of catechesis: “communion and intimacy with Jesus Christ”. (GDC 80) The one end-goal of all men, as taught by Jesus in the greatest commandment, is to love God with all our heart, all our mind, and all our strength, and love others for God: to be a saint! Thus to fail to be a saint is the only tragedy. All doctrine has “no other objective than to arrive at love.” (CCC 25) True love means “willing the good of the other.” (St. Thomas) And so Christians truly love God and give the best to others if they freely choose to do so, and confidently persevere, despite unruly feelings and worldly pressure.   


1. Strongly emphasize the first and principal proclamation.  “God loves you and gave his life for you and is near you”. This is the summary of all we know about God, and what helps everyone to love him in return. This most solid message has “great spiritual power” to bring about the starting point of catechesis: “conversion of hearts”. (Synod, GDC 61-62) The whole education in the faith is about helping students enter more deeply into this central truth. 
2. Examine reasons for belief. The learners should see clearly that they are believing, not because their family and friends believe, but because what they believe is true (agrees with reality) and highly reasonable.Clarify why (a) God is real, (b) Jesus is God, (c) the Catholic Church is Jesus’ one true Church.
3. Ensure that students have received the key sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Confession. Without grace, divine life, growth in the Christian life is impossible.
4. Be warmly welcoming and give a joyful Christian example.  (The list is taken from CCC 6)


1. Facilitate an encounter with a living person. To help the learner to become Jesus’ intimate friend, we need to shift from (a) merely teaching truths about God to (b) introducing Someone. Education in the faith should “have as an objective not only the intellectual adherence to Christian truth, but also the creation of a personal encounter.” (Synod) In catechesis, Christ is taught –everything else is taught with reference to him. (CCC 427) Jesus is alive, and he is the one who teaches and gives grace through the educator, the priest, the Bible and catechesis. An effective practice is to recommend:  “As you acquire doctrine, you can meditate, you can realize that God is looking at you, and that you are looking at him.” (St. Josemaria)

2. Focus on the essentials: make the kerygma the central and oft-repeated message.  The truth that God who is alive loves us and died to save us, and is near us” is called the kerygma. This has to be the center of all teachings, “which we must announce one way or another throughout the process of catechesis, at every level and moment.” (Pope Francis) The kerygma is expressed in many ways, but the core of God’s love is his mercy and his thirst for our love.  You help the learner achieve the goal of catechesis –union with Jesus—when  you teach all the key dimensions of faith for the learners to encounter Christ in them: (1) Creed:  We believe in God’s love, (2) Liturgy: We celebrate and receive Jesus’ life of love, (3) Morality: We live Jesus’ life of total love, (4) Mission: We live Jesus’ life of total love in saving souls, (5) Prayer: We live Jesus’ life of total love in dialogue with God, (6) Community: We live Jesus’s life of total love with others. (GDC 84)

3. Emphasize the key places of encounter and identification with Christ

a. Gospels and Personal Prayer. To help students know Jesus and become one with him, catechesis should “base itself constantly on the Gospels…the heart of all the Scriptures.” (GDC 41) A key way to develop friendship with Jesus, possible even for little children, is quiet time of conversation with him. A simple way to do this is to block off some minutes to just be there alone with God as friend, and to allow him to love us, while loving him above all in return. Another way is to read the Gospel of the day and to talk to God about the words that strike us. St. Josemaria taught that religion “is studied properly when the subject becomes a topic for prayer.”  Thus during catechesis, an effective practice is to make each one pause to pray to God on Christ's teachings in silence. Also the teacher should encourage  students to pray about these on their own by blocking off time for personal prayer, and to encounter Christ in all activities, offering these as prayer.

b. Liturgy as a Place of Encounter Par Excellence.  The liturgy found in the Mass, Confession and the other sacraments is the “best school of faith.” (Synod) It makes present the Paschal Mystery, the very summit of God’s love, the center of the Christian life.  Educators should echo the strong recommendation of the Church for frequent Confession and Mass, and help students understand why nothing is more important than these

c. Family Prayer. “It is essential that children actually see that, for their parents, prayer is something truly important. Hence moments of family prayer and acts of devotion can be more powerful for evangelization than any catechism class or sermon.” (Pope Francis) Family prayer “is precisely the best way to give children a truly Christian upbringing.  (St Josemaria)

d. Christ’s identity: Son of God and Savior. We have become Christ himself.” (CCC 795)  Each one then has to always identify himself as a child of God with Christ’s mission to save souls. Students should feel the serious and joy-filled responsibility to exercise the three offices of the Savior: priest, prophet and king who Christianizes society. From early on, they have to take initiative and bring their family, classmates, friends, neighbor and the poor closer to God. “Young people should become the first to carry on the apostolate directly to other young persons.” (Vat II, Apostolate of the Laity, 12)

e. Christ in the Poor, the Sick and all Men. A high impact encounter with Christ is performing the works of mercy for people in need:  “whatever you have done to the least of my brethren, you have done it to me.” (Mt 25:40)   Good catechists encourage families to love and visit the sick and poor.  Teachers should also emphasize that love for the poor is “mainly translated into privileged religious care.” (Pope Francis)

f. Christ as Reason and Truth.  Since the goal is to consciously choose to be one with Christ, doing his work of Christianizing the secularist society, it is key that Christians “live a faith that comes from the Logos, Reason.” (Benedict XVI; Jn 1:1 – Logos is Word or Reason) Students should be able to generate convincing arguments for the rationality of choosing the Catholic religion and the natural law, and of critiquing the present-day errors.  They should know the reasoning for the truths of Social Doctrine they ought to spread in their secular work and in the country. The teacher should ensure that no falsehood is taught or willful omissions of key doctrines occur, as these are a betrayal of Christ who is the Truth and the Light in darkness. 

g. Christ as Perfect Man.  Imitating Jesus who is Perfect Man, students should be trained to practice all the human virtues, like integrity, justice, cheerfulness, courtesy, loyalty, responsibility, sincerity, humility, work, etc. 

h. Christ in the Beautiful Lives of the Saints. “Nothing can bring us into close contact with the beauty of Christ himself other than the world of beauty created by faith and light that shines out from the faces of the saints.” (Benedict XVI)  Love for Mary, the greatest saint, is the shortcut to Jesus.

4. Attract through the positive: joy, beauty, the greatness of God. Teachers “should appear as people who share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite to a delicious banquet...the Church grows by attraction” (Pope Francis)  Effective catechists show excitement and amazement at God’s infinite beauty, wisdom and generous self-giving.  

5. Follow the pedagogy of God and of the Church.  God’s teaching method is our model. God became man to make it easy for us to see God. And so Jesus’ story is key, as well as the stories he told of the Kingdom. Sacred images, which John Paul II recommended to be used in praying the rosary, are “extremely effective in communicating the Gospel.” (Intro to the Compendium 5)  Follow the pedagogy of the CCC, GDC and the Popes. Good teachers discern the background, culture, interests and level of the learner. 

6.  Embody the goal (freely chosen intimate union with God) and help the students keep it always in mind.  “Today's world needs persons who speak to God to be able to speak of God. Remember that Jesus did not redeem the world with beautiful words or showy means, but with suffering and death.” (Benedict XVI) This means the faith educator has to faithfully persevere through the ups and downs of life to deeply know God in prayer and in the Church's doctrine, and give the best in teaching – with punctual regularity. 

Download the one-page Executive Summary here. In PDF here  

See also: Working Like the Best in Teaching Religion: fruitful experiences in applying these principles. 

These one-page leaflets have started going viral around the world. One leaflet was posted in the website of the Archdiocese of Westminster in London ("The Mother Church of England"), in the Corpus Christi Parish in Canada,  in Kenya and in Macau. To get the full collection, please see this: One Page Leaflets for New Evangelization Going Viral!