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WASHINGTON—To honor the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI has announced a Year of Faith. It began October 11, ends November 24, 2013, and is meant to strengthen the faith of Catholics and draw the world to faith by their example.
The pope has encouraged Catholics to study the Catechism as part of the Year of Faith. Alissa Thorell, catechism specialist for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis, offers "Five Things Catholics Should Know About the Catechism." Thorell explains:
1. It's universal in its scope. Promulgated in 1992, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is the first book of its kind in 450 years, an effort by the world's bishops to convey the content of the Catholic faith to the whole Church. Following the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the bishops recognized the importance of providing a more complete presentation of the Catholic faith and teachings to Catholics living in the modern world.
2. It's universal in its content. The Catechism compiles the living Tradition of the Catholic Church and divides it into four sections: what Catholics believe (the Creed), how the faith is transmitted (worship and sacraments), how Catholics are called to live (moral life) and prayer. The contents of these four parts are interwoven, providing an organic presentation of the faith.
3. It's a resource for education. The main goal of the Catechism is to help bishops, pastors, catechists, parents and all who teach the faith. It provides a foundation that encourages bishops' conferences to develop teaching materials from it.
4. It's an invitation prayer. The Catechism draws from the richness of the Catholic Church, including Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, the teaching documents of Church and the lives of the saints. This makes it not only useful for learning about the Catholic faith, but for growing in one's faith through meditation and prayer.
5. It's for Catholics of all ages. Learning and living the faith is an ongoing process throughout a person's life, and the Catechism can help Catholics come to know and love Christ. At almost 700 pages, the Catechism can be intimidating, but it contains short summaries at the end of every section for easy reference. Further, the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church offers an explanation of each section of the Catechism that is accessible for all readers.
More information on how Catholics can live the Year of Faith is available online: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/year-of-faith/
Keywords: Catechism of the Catholic Church, Year of Faith, Second Vatican Council, Alissa Thorell, prayer, Creed, faith, Evangelization and Catechesis, USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
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