October 29, 2006

Comparing Today's Catechism with the Roman Catechism of the 16th Century

From then Cardinal Ratzinger:
A short look at the Roman Catechism's* proportions is interesting: 22 percent for the Creed, 37 percent (nearly twice as much) for the sacraments, 21 percent and 20 percent for the Commandments and the Lord's Prayer respectively - a manifest disequilibrium in favor of the sacraments, probably in part because of the sacramental controversy of the Reformation. Let us see now the proportions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 39 percent for Creed, 23 percent for the sacraments, 27 percent for the Commandments and 11 percent for prayer. Historical and circumstantial reasons have played their role in those repartionings. Nevertheless they convey a theological and catechetical message. We can apply to the CCC what Pedro Rodriguez said about the plan of the Roman Catechism:
The option is evident. The CR, before presenting to the Christian what he has to do, wants to express to him who and how he is; we find this quote of St. Leo the Great: "Christian, remember your dignity." Only when he recognizes the supernatural power that flows from his 'being in Christ through the Holy Spirit' can the faithful disciple of Christ make the effort, with confident heart, without servile fear, to practice and to increase the Christian life according to the Decalogue...Without the preceding doctrine of the sacraments - which implies also the teaching about the mystery of the Church and of justification - the precepts of the Decalogue seem to exceed our human capacity. But, basing ourselves on faith and the sacraments, we look at them with confidence and vigor. This is a specific property of that catholic spirituality which attains a summit in the CR.
This strong emphasis on the primacy of grace in both catechisms is underlined by the statistics I have just given: in both documents the first two parts form by themselves nearly two-thirds of the volume....

Whatever method is used in catechesis - the CR and the CCC do not impose any specific method - the primacy in catechesis is to be given to God and to his works. Whatever man has to do will always be in response to God and to his works.

--Introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

* - 16th century catechism produced out of the Council of Trent

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