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Catechism of the Catholic Church

What follows is a series of 30 booklets created by the Catholic Information Service of the Knights of Columbus that offer a colloquial expression of major elements of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II, under whose authority the Catechism was first released in 1992, urged such versions so that each people and each culture can appropriate its content as its own.

The booklets are not a substitute for the Catechism, but are offered only to make its contents more accessible. The series is at times poetic, colloquial, playful, and imaginative; at all times it strives to be faithful to the Faith.

The Catholic Information Service recommends reading at least one series booklet each month to gain a deeper, more mature understanding of the Faith. You can find the complete listing of the booklets in the series in the back of each booklet.

Clicking on each link below will open a different booklet in a new window.

Written by Peter Kreeft, Faith, gives a basic understanding of the relationship between faith and reason, faith and authority, and faith and the Church. If you want to put your faith in action, it’s a good idea to know what the Church teaches about faith.

Atheists deny God’s existence. Mystics experience God directly. Saints are called friends of God. But how much can we, finite human beings, really know about Him, the infinite, omnipotent God? Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society for providing music.

The doctrine of creation is sometimes seen in the headlines as a controversy about what to teach our children in school. But news stories don’t report the depths and the beauty of this distinctive Christian doctrine. In this lesson on Creation, the evolution and creation controversies are addressed, and so are the fundamental distinctions between God and the world. Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society for providing music.

To learn the Catholic faith well, not only do we have to understand something about God, but we also need to understand something about our human need as men and women created by God. Our understanding of the human person will affect our understanding of the great questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? What is my purpose? What happens after I die? This lesson of the will provide an overview of the Catholic understanding of the human person. Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society for providing music.

Jesus is controversial. The Wikipedia article on Jesus is the fourth most revised article, which is evidence of the passionate debate that surrounds Him. Catholics believe that their Church is founded by Jesus, and faithfully preserves everything that Jesus taught. But there are some tough questions about Him: How can He be both God and Son of God? Why do Catholics have faith in His divinity? Why did God become man? Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society for providing music.

“It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:17). Jesus’ words reveal the Third Person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit, also called the Counselor, inspired the authors of sacred Scripture, and He enlightens us when we read it. The Holy Spirit teaches the saints, and He can teach you, too. Find out why it is better that Jesus went away and that the Holy Spirit has come to us, as well as the difference that the Holy Spirit makes in your life, in this lesson. Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society for providing music.

G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “It is impossible to be just to the Catholic Church. The moment men cease to pull against it they feel a tug towards it. The moment they cease to shout it down they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The moment they try to be fair to it they begin to be fond of it. But when that affection has passed a certain point it begins to take on the tragic and menacing grandeur of a great love affair.” This lesson focuses specifically on the Catholic Church, where it came from, what it is, and what is so unique about her. Learn about the infallibility of the Church, praying to saints, and why the Church is necessary for salvation. Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society for providing music. .

There is nothing better than God. And sin separates us from God. Therefore, there is nothing worse than sin. But what exactly is sin? And how is sin forgiven? What is the difference between Catholic and Protestant teachings on this topic? Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society for providing music.

Developing a Christian understanding of death is more and more important today as we can rely on our culture less and less to transmit such an understanding to us. But we know that death is not the end. So let’s start with some basics: Why do we die? What happens at death? Is resurrection more than immortality? Why is resurrection part of God’s plan? And what does resurrection tell us about our bodies? Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society for providing music.

Many people express a basic desire to live forever. The lyrics to some songs, like that of the movie “Fame,” also reveal an assumed connection between reputation and living forever. But the Christian teaching about everlasting life is much different from the originally pagan idea of fame as immortality. Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society for providing music.

The sacred Liturgy is not just the Mass, but the Mass is the Liturgy with which most Catholics are familiar. Often, it is such a regular part of life that the simple and fundamental questions are overlooked. What exactly is a Liturgy? Why do we do it? We’ll survey the different answers that have been given to just what Liturgy is, learn the Church’s teaching, and develop our understanding of this basic activity of the Church. Our gratitude goes to the Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir for providing music.

A sacrament is a sacred sign instituted by Christ to give grace. Each word in this concise definition is chosen with precision and bears a great deal of meaning. This lesson explains exactly what is meant by “sign,” what is meant by “grace” how sacraments “give” grace, and how sacraments are not life magic. The requirements for a valid sacrament, the proper minister of the sacraments, and sacramentals will also be discussed in this lesson. Music was provided by the Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir.

Baptism and Confirmation were sacraments we received as children. What did they do for us? Do you know how important they are? Sometimes Catholics are criticized for baptizing infants – find out why the Church encourages this practice. The Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir provided music.

The source and summit of the Christian life, the sacramental center for Catholics, is the holy Eucharist. Like Christ, the holy Eucharist is controversial and divisive. When Jesus initially taught crowds of people about the holy Eucharist, many of them left (see the Gospel of John 6:60). Today, the question still comes to us: “will you also go away?” (John 6:67). Is the holy Eucharist actually a sacrifice? Should we worship the Eucharist? Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir for providing music.

Christ invites us to respond to evil, first of all, with a serious examination of conscience and the commitment to purify our lives. In effect, people and societies that live without ever questioning themselves have ruin as their only final destination. Conversion, on the other hand, while not preserving one from problems, allows one to face them in a different way. Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir for providing music.

The vocation to Matrimony is given by God the Father which “unites man and woman in an unbreakable bond of love and peace.” The Church also teaches that marriage is an “outpouring of love in the new covenant of grace is symbolized in the marriage covenant that seals the love of husband and wife….” Professor Peter Kreeft explores the Catholic Church’s theology of marriage, the state of marriage today and the virtues of the married state. Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir for providing music.

This podcast deals with two sacraments: Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Sick. All baptized people are called to contribute to the work of salvation. In the Church, priests of Jesus Christ are dedicated to the service of communion. So what is a priest? The letter of Saint James says that if someone is sick we are to call the priest so that they can pray over the sick person anointing him or her with oil in the name of the Lord. What do we believe about the sacrament of anointing? Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir for providing music.

What do you understand about the role of prayer in the Christian life? Pope Benedict XVI writes, “The Christian who prays seeks an encounter with the Father of Jesus Christ, asking God to be present with the consolation of the Spirit to him and his work.” The subject of prayer is discussed in this lesson, Prayer. Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir for providing music.

The Lord’s Prayer is “the summary of the whole gospel,” Tertullian said. And we dare to pray it regularly. The Catechism teaches us that “The Lord’s Prayer brings us into communion with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. At the same time it reveals us to ourselves. Praying to our Father should develop in us the will to become like him and foster in us a humble and trusting heart” (2799-2800). Essential to our Christian formation is the important fact: the Lord’s Prayer reveals us to ourselves. Indeed, Christ reveals us to ourselves. Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir for providing music.

Mary’s place in salvation history was made clear in Pope Benedict XVI's homily at the Canonization of Frey Antônio de Sant'Anna Galvão in Brazil on May 11, 2007: “Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, stands particularly close to us at this moment.... She, the Tota Pulchra, the Virgin Most Pure, who conceived in her womb the Redeemer of mankind and was preserved from all stain of original sin, wishes to be the definitive seal of our encounter with God our Savior. There is no fruit of grace in the history of salvation that does not have as its necessary instrument the mediation of Our Lady.” In this lesson we learn of Mary’s place in Catholic theology and her place in our lives. Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir for providing music.

More than ever people ask questions about how to live. By nature we want to know the ethos of Christian life. In this lesson, we demonstrate how a Christian lives his life according to sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church. Professor Kreeft once again shows us that our decisions, in order to be faithful to our baptism, need to be made according to the perspective of Jesus Christ. Our gratitude to the Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir for providing music.

How a Christian lives in this world is an important question to study. Is truth a theory or a reality? If a Christian says he or she believes in Christ and has faith that His promises are in fact true and are fulfilled, and does not live according to the gospel, then how is that person (and others) to make sense of the practice of Christianity in the reality of life? Natural law, morality’s origin, conscience, free will and freedom are among the many topics explored here. Music was provided by the Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir.

Principles keep a person focused on a goal so that the opposite is true: the lack of principles in making decisions is like building a house on sand. Catholics believe that objective truth exists, that we can know what it is and that we ought to live according to objective truth. However, truth is not a thing, truth is a person: Jesus Christ. And Jesus is the principle by which our morals are built. Yes? Our gratitude goes to the Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir.

We all know that virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do good. Vice is the opposite of virtue as it darkens the conscience and removes us the experience of living in the likeness of God. Being virtuous is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of being strengthened by the Holy Spirit. Lest we forget, virtue is our rock in the hour of pain, not vice. Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir.

The Ten Commandments, particularly the first three, are neither mere moral absolutes nor are they directives opposed to the longings of the human heart. We are taught that the Commandments constitute a covenant and therefore are “not so much about rules to be followed, but about the full meaning of life.” The first three Commandments point out the pathway to true human happiness and fulfillment. Do you believe it? Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir.

The Fourth Commandment isn’t just about honoring your parents, it is also about the responsibilities we have for building a just society. But honoring one’s parents and ordering society justly are meaningless if we don’t understand that the Commandments are a part of God’s covenant with us. Thus, the Fourth Commandment is about the relationship we have with God that is manifested in the duties and responsibilities of human relations of family and neighbor oriented toward the good. The Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir provided music.

Matters of life and death are very important concerns. Frequently it is said that the health of a society is understood by the way it treats the vulnerable: the elderly, children, the ill or the unborn. This lesson explores the Christian approach to the Fifth Commandment and what it means for us to believe that God alone is the author of life and that it is not permissible to take a human life. Instead of reducing "Thou shall not kill" to convenient bromides, we learn what it means to be Christian and to have this commandment as a fundamental principle of Christian living. Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir.

No doubt you will agree that we live in a sexually charged society. The advertising industry relies on sex to sell a product. In addition, there seems to be a lack of understanding that sexuality is a gift from God. Here we learn about the beauty of sexuality as taught by the Catholic Church. This lesson looks at reality and offers us some practical advice. The Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir provided the music.

Stealing and coveting the neighbor’s goods are the only points of the 7th and 10th Commandments. People of conscience admit that there is a violation of these commandments which not only goes against the natural law and the rule of justice, but these violations threaten our personal security and peace. Moreover, violating these commandments is contrary to the will of God. One many questions to ask ourselves: Is justice tempered with love? Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir.

The eighth Commandment is really much more far-reaching than it seems. It forbids not only perjury, false oaths, calumny, and slander, but all kinds of falsehood, and commands total truthfulness.  This Commandment is one of the most neglected and most disobeyed of all the Commandments. For like the first Commandment, it is disobeyed whenever any Commandment is disobeyed. Just as all sin is some kind of idolatry (choosing some false god), so all sin is some kind of falsehood, some kind of choice of darkness over light.  Thanks to the Saint Gregory Society and The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Choir.