What should Catholics know by heart?

Teach your young kids about GodMore from Boston College theologian Thomas Groome’s interview with U.S. Catholic magazine:

How does doctrine fit into [how we might help parents pass on the faith]?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church in its opening pages states that faith is assent to the stated doctrines officially taught by the Catholic Church. But faith demands much more than that. It demands a celebration of the sacraments, participation in the moral life, the teachings of Jesus. “If you live according to my teachings, you’re truly my disciples, then you’ll know the truth that sets you free.”

In other words, if it’s lived faith, then it’s much more than a confession of beliefs. So preparing people to live it rather than simply to know about it is imperative.

We need to know about it, of course, to understand it and comprehend it and to make good judgments and decisions out of it. But that’s only the beginning, or maybe that’s more the end of the beginning. In that sense I even think there are certain dogmas and doctrines and lists and symbols of faith that Catholics should still know by heart.

Can you tell us some of them?

The Ten Commandments, the seven sacraments, the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds, the Our Father, the Hail Mary. And some of the doctrinal statements: the divinity and humanity of Jesus, the Blessed Trinity, one God in three divine persons and yet the unity of the Godhead. The effectiveness of the sacraments. The moral teachings and social doctrine.

I think the seven corporal and spiritual works of mercy are worth knowing, because they’re a prelude to a commitment to social justice. Also people should know some of the great social and ethical principles.

And then I think there’d be key scripture passages that people should know by heart: John 3:16, for example (“For God so loved the world…”), and the witness of Peter that Jesus is the Messiah (Matt. 16:16). Also Martha’s confession in John’s gospel that Jesus is the Messiah (John 11:27), and the story of Mary Magdalene being the first witness to the resurrection in John chapter 20.

I don’t know how many you’d end up with, but I think it would help for Catholics to know them by heart.

See the entire interview with Thomas Groome here.

At Home with Our Faith is Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the 2012 Best in Class award from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for the past four years running. Here’s a sample issue.

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