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Deacon-structing Catholic Basics: Catechism

Deacon Pedro

Monday, August 24, 2020

Photo credit: Deacon Pedro Guevara-Mann
Over the last month, I’ve been working on four episodes of our new summer series, In All Things. Since we wanted to do something fun and light, I decided to invite Catholic singers to join me for some Catholic trivia. As I prepared, I realized that there is so much of our Faith that we don’t know (me included, as our blog editor, Kristina, can attest!) or have forgotten. With that in mind, I chose five categories: Scripture, Liturgy, Catechism, History, and Doctrine and propose that we do the following: Off the top of your head, try to see how much you know. The point is not to make you feel bad about what you don’t know but to celebrate how much you do know.
I bet you know more than you think.
Two weeks ago we started with Scripture. I hope that it inspired you to pick up your Bible and memorize some Scripture passages or read up on some long-forgotten stories. Last week we looked at liturgy. Did you learn something you didn’t know? I thought I knew all about the Liturgical Seasons and their colours, but Kristina pointed out some things I had missed (remember it’s off the top of my head). I never learned that the Triduum is its own Liturgical Season, but it’s true that it’s neither Lent nor Easter, so it must be its own Season.  [Note from the editor: You can look it up in the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and Calendar (p. 7).]
(And thanks for pointing out that I missed Palm Sunday for days when the liturgical colour is red. I usually forget on Palm Sunday, and, boy, am I ever glad that I leave one of my red stoles at my parish!)
Today, let’s look at our catechism. I guess everything that our Faith teaches is “catechism”, but for this purpose, I would include under catechism everything that is not liturgical or scriptural, and also not doctrinal (we’ll look at that in two weeks).
This week we will try to remember all those things that we learned way back in CCD or catechism class.
Let’s start with some easy ones:
Can you name the three persons of the Holy Trinity?
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Can you name the three Archangels?
Michael, Gabriel, Raphael
Let’s go back to Confirmation Prep:
Can you name the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit?
(In the 7th episode of In All Things, the tables were turned and our guest, PJ Anderson, asked me this very question. I was only able to name five. I’ll remember all seven from now on.)
Wisdom, understanding, wonder and awe (fear of the Lord) , counsel, knowledge, fortitude (courage), and piety (reverence)
For a bonus point, do you know where in the Bible these can be found? (As a disclaimer, I don’t know off the top of my head, but it’s in the Book of Isaiah.) Look it up.
Part of what we do as Catholics is devotional. We love our devotions, especially the Marian ones. Perhaps the most common (and well-loved) is the Rosary. Even if you don’t typically pray the Rosary, can you name the four categories of Mysteries of the Rosary?
Joyful Mysteries, Sorrowful Mysteries, Glorious Mysteries, Luminous Mysteries
I think most of us can, but, as a bonus, can you name all 20 mysteries of the Rosary?
I am going to try, off the top of my head:
Joyful: The Annunciation, The Visitation, The Birth of Christ, The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple and....?
Sorrowful: The Agony in the Garden, Jesus Carries the Cross, Jesus Dies on the Cross....? Anyone else get these confused with the Stations of the Cross? We’ll look at those in a bit.
Glorious: The Resurrection, The Ascension, The Arrival of the Holy Spirit, The Assumption of Mary, and The Coronation of Mary (I guess those are the ones I pray the most!)
Luminous: The Baptism of Christ, The Wedding at Cana, The Proclamation of the Kingdom, The Institution of the Eucharist and....?
Now that I have completely humiliated myself, please help me out by telling me which ones I missed. [Note from the editor: The Presentation in the Temple, The Scourging at the Pillar, The Crowning with Thorns, and The Transfiguration.]
Now let’s look at the Stations of the Cross. Let’s go with the traditional ones (I’ll leave John Paul II’s Scriptural ones for the real experts).
  1. Jesus is condemned to death
  2. Jesus takes up his cross
  3. Jesus falls for the first time
  4. Jesus meets his mother
  5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus
  6. Veronica meets Jesus
  7. Jesus falls for the second time
  8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
  9. Jesus falls the third time
  10. Jesus is stripped of his garments
  11. Jesus is nailed to the Cross
  12. Jesus dies on the Cross
  13. Jesus is taken down from the Cross
  14. Jesus is laid in the Tomb
I may have got some out of order, but I think I got them all!
OK. Let’s move on to some that I actually do know.
A few years ago I noticed that I kept hearing people talking about the “Four Marks of the Church”. I had heard that expression before but had no idea what it was.
Do you know what the Four Marks of the Church are? (Hint: they are not Mark the apostle, Mark the evangelist, Mark the disciple of Peter and Mark.... oh, you get my bad joke!)
We profess that we believe in the Four Marks of the Church every time we say the Nicene Creed: “I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.” That’s it. The Four Marks of the Church are:
One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic
Last year we did an Advent preaching series at my parish about the Four Marks of the Church. Here’s my homily for the Third Sunday in Advent: The Church is Catholic.
Here’s another one that most of you would know, but you probably don’t know what they are called. I certainly didn’t know that these three vows had a name: The Three Evangelical Counsels. Do you know what they are? Hint: They are the three vows that people entering consecrated life take:
Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience
Do you think you can name the Seven Deadly Sins? This is what I asked Mikey Needleman on Episode 11 of In All Things. He was able to name five (I probably wouldn’t have done much better).
Pride, Avarice (Greed), Envy, Wrath, Lust, Gluttony, Sloth
How about the Works of Mercy? There are seven Spiritual Works of Mercy and seven Corporal Works of Mercy. Do you know what they are?
I’ll start with the Corporal:
Feed the hungry, Give drink to the thirsty, Clothe the naked, Visit the sick, Visit those in prison, Shelter the homeless, and Bury the dead. (I almost forgot shelter the homeless. These are also inspired by a Scripture passage. Do you know what it is?)
I will not list the Spiritual Works of Mercy, because I am ashamed to say that I don’t know them. Not off the top of my head. [Maybe Kristina does? Kristina's answer: These ones are tougher...Instruct the ignorant, Counsel the doubtful, Admonish the sinner, Comfort the afflicted...that's all I've got! Not fair. I'm only supposed to correct you. :) ] But I promise that now I am going to look them up and memorize them.
Let’s do one last one. This can be a BONUS. I won’t give you the answer because I don’t want to humiliate myself again.
We all know the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit and we know that they are found (at least six of them) in the Book of Isaiah.
Can you name the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit?
For a bonus bonus, do you know where in Scripture they are found?
Phew! This was tough! Can you think of more catechism questions? Send them to me. Follow me on Instagram @deaconpedro. I am posting one question every other day to see if we can continue the fun. You can also post questions for me.
We may think that there isn’t much point to knowing or memorizing these items from our catechism. Even though I would say they are basic, it’s true. Memorizing the Spiritual Works of Mercy will not get you to Heaven. But doing them might. All these catechetical things are not just made up. The Church has developed them as part of that Magisterium, the body of teaching of the Church, based on Scripture and Tradition and based on our understanding of what has been revealed to the Church. They are tools that the Church has developed in order to help us get closer to Christ and ultimately get to Heaven. We don’t have to memorize the Baltimore Catechism, but we should know the basics.
Come back next week and let’s look at History. How much do you know about the history of the Church: the saints, Church Fathers, the Inquisition, persecutions? The popes? Let’s find out next week. In the meantime, write to me and tell me what you learned this week.

pedroEvery week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: [email protected]. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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