Seen on the web: Reader comment about Catholic Schools Week.

Posted by Bob on Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 4:59 PM (EDT):

“Why did God make you? God made me to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.”

Perhaps not many remember this question and answer from the Baltimore Catechism, but these few lines say so much. Having asked Catholic school students this question, they “danced” all over searching for a satisfactory response. Telling them the answer and they not only understood, but committed it to memory and were able to write a short essay on its meaning. How thousands of children once learned their Faith is now a thing of the past (and generally a taboo subject among administrators).

Likewise are the sheer numbers of school-age students who know little of Catholicism, because some 80% of them do not/cannot attend Catholic school.

Historically, the Plenary Councils of Baltimore set forth the manner in which our Faith was to be accorded to Catholics. The 19th Century councils recognized that public schools were generally detrimental to Catholics and set forth certain guidelines for bishops and their clergy that are certainly applicable today, among which are:

A Catholic school in every parish (where rudimentary Gregorian chant should be taught);
Textbooks should not contain items contrary to the Faith; and
It was desired that parochial schools be free.

Instead of building cathedrals (most new ones are monstrosities anyway), buying real-estate and other expenditures, how about committing these monies to Catholic education?

This “New Evangelization” must start on a firm basis – bishops already don’t pay teachers what their public school counterparts receive and they don’t allow unions to exist within their (arch-) dioceses (though every pope in the modern era has said it is the right of every worker to organize) and many non-Catholics attend our schools (and some teachers are not Catholic either).

How does one explain that ¾ of all students are at the elementary school level, while the remaining ¼ are in high school, where the attendant costs double – what happens to those thousands who can’t go to a Catholic high school? We’ve all seen “scholarships” given to the Protestant quarterback from a public high school – you see it at Catholic colleges for that matter. Is this fair? The charge that Catholic schools are only for the rich seems increasingly true.

Many clerics have said the Church is under siege from a government that sees no value in what our Church (and its schools) provide. Perhaps it is time to relearn from our past and set our priorities anew.


Seen on the web about the old Baltimore Catechism…

…whatever its weaknesses from a post-Vatican II catechetical point of view, one not insignificant virtue of the Baltimore Catechism was that it addressed faith on the level of cognition, thus teaching ordinary Catholics that, at the very least, faith is reasonable and intellectually defensible.


Seen on the web: “There’s value in having children learn and even memorize the basic tenants of their faith.”

There’s a story of a man who was deeply depressed, felt that life was pointless, and decided to commit suicide. He had been raised a Catholic but had left the Church years before. As he was about to overdose, his last thoughts were “Why did God even make me?” The words of the old Baltimore Catechism suddenly were in his head: “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next”.

He was so startled that he dropped the pills. Then he started thinking and remembering what he had learned in Catholic school, all those many years ago. He decided to go see a priest and talk things over. He never tried to commit suicide again.

The point here is that there’s value in having children learn and even memorize the basic tenants of their faith. Often, in moments of distress, we can’t think clearly. It’s then that the prayers and teachings we learned as children can come to our aid and get us through those desperate moments to a safer place. The Catechism’s been like a rock, for those who were raised with it. It taught us the basics in a very simple language. And it’s always there, even if on the back burner, to be brought forward when needed.

Posted by Shane O’Neill

Read the “old” Baltimore Catechism here