Book Thoughts: Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Edition

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Edition was a 1997 (1st Edition, 1992) reference book issued by the Catholic Church. I like to call it the Big Green Book. The beauty of this book is that it has all the rules that Catholics are to live by. To be a Catholic is to follow this book to the letter. It doesn’t go into every little detail, for example, how much each person should give to the poor, because that depends on the individual Catholic. My Personal Catechism book here seeks to go into that detail for my own life.

Back to the Catechism, the rules are all there, but it’s not the most entertaining book to read. It is a reference book after all. This book is always the first place I look whenever I am not sure of something in my faith. It has a nice index in the back of the book for just this purpose. Only if I can’t find anything in the Catechism will I seek out other sources.

The text is in plain English, but some sections require a deep understanding of Catholicism or Christianity to fully understand. I would not recommend this book to a new Catholic. For that purpose, the Church has published easier to read books that are based on the Catechism. For youth in America, the recommended book is Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church (YOUCAT). For American adults, United States Catholic Catechism for Adults serves the same purpose. These books are pretty good; however, the Big Green Book is best for the serious Catholic.

Catechism of the Catholic Church has more than just the rules. It draws on writings from many different saints, theologians, and popes of the past as well as the Sacred Scriptures to back up all the rules. The book has an extensive bibliography section listing all the sources they used to come up with this master set of rules. Many of those writings are only available in Latin or Italian, having been written in the early days of the Church. This is great for the Catholic that really wants to take the next step into studying theology. I am not at that point, but I have thought about it some day. One day I’d like to get to the point that I can occupy all of my free time with Catholic-related activities. Studying theology might be one of them.

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