In 1992, The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) was released and “its goal was to help facilitate the lifelong conversion of the whole person to the Father’s call to holiness and eternal life.” (USCCA, xvii). Whenever a world-wide document is released from the pope or from a council or synod of bishops, local bishops’ conferences (South American Bishops, Asian Bishops, American Bishops, African Bishops, etc.) are often encouraged to reflect on the document and then issue an appropriate work for their country or countries or culture. In 2006, the American bishops released the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults. Its purpose was to take the CCC and break it open within the American culture, imparting Catholic American history, accenting American saints and heroes or heroines of the faith, and discuss how particular teachings might either support or challenge American ideology. Each chapter (there are 36) starts out with a story of an American saint or hero/heroine. Then it goes on to address a particular teaching in the general universal Catechism, with a few questions and answers, followed by how that particular teaching might be heard within an American context. This is followed by a few more questions for discussion, a concise review of the doctrinal statements, and then closing with meditation and prayer. The universal Catechism is still the norm, but at times the USCCA may make it easier for American audiences to relate to particular teachings.
Each chapter in the USCCA is about 10-15 pages. Periodically and in the order in which they were written, here at MV we will examine one chapter of the USCCA and reflect on what it may mean for us at this moment in the 21st century and then summarize some of those insights in about 2-3 pages. Of course, the best way to digest this work would be to read each chapter in its entirety with a group and a leader, but for the fast-paced crowd who would like a quick review on some of the basic building blocks of our faith, tuning into this column at MV on a regular basis and reading the summaries can be a first step toward being more comfortable with our own foundations as well as with some of the challenges to our faith. Think of these columns as a type of Cliffnotes. Below are listed the first few chapter reflections.