Mary in Various English Language Catechisms

 

This presentation is intended to provide the reader with some insight to the topic of the Blessed Virgin Mary as she is presented in various catechisms that have been produced over the past two decades and are tied in to the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) in some way or another.

A Concise Catechism for Catholics
Fr. James Tolhurst 1993

This short book provides “a compendium of the one and enduring apostolic faith which the Church has guarded and taught through centuries.” It uses the CCC as its principle reference and follows a question answer format which “facilitates memorization of basic doctrine.” It presents its information following the same order of presentation as found in the CCC.

This book does not have any single section where the subject of Mary is discussed. Rather, it presents Marian facets in isolated question and answers. These questions specifically deal with the following Marian points: Mary’s preservation from original sin and her Immaculate Conception, the Marian dogmas, Mary as the Mother of the Church, prayer to Mary and Mary’s merits.

A Summary of the New Catholic Catechism
Bishop James A. Griffin 1994

This small book is a presentation of a summary of the CCC with special attention to the American Catholic culture. It is comprised of the same four sections that make up the CCC; The Profession of Faith, The Celebration of the Christian Mystery, Life in Christ, and Christian Prayer.

It deals with the subject of Mary in the first section and there is an actual line in the table of contents which pertains solely to Mary.  This section presents Mary as the Mother of the Church and its preeminent member.  It mentions a few more titles of Mary and then briefly mentions the four Marian dogmas.  It comments on the great devotion to Mary that has grown over the years and concludes with a reference to Mary as the new Eve.

The Seeker’s Catechism: The Basics of Catholicism
Michael Francis Pennock 1994

Another small book, The Seeker’s Catechism, is a simplified condensation of a larger work by the same author entitled This Is Our Faith, in which the author presents a longer summary of the Catholic faith. This new book incorporates teachings of the CCC as well as some documents of Vatican II and some recent encyclicals. The book is loosely arranged according to the order of topics as found in the CCC. Its information is presented in a question answer format similar to the Baltimore Catechism.

This book addresses the topic of Mary in the chapter: The Communion of Saints and Our Blessed Mother.  This chapter describes Mary’s role as a special one in salvation history and says that Mary is the greatest Christian saint of all, the perfect model of Christian faith.  It mentions several of her titles and briefly discusses the Marian dogmas.  The chapter finishes with a quick look at why Mary is venerated and then gives a brief exploration of the Rosary.

Exploring the Catechism
Jane E. Regan 1995

This book differs from some of the others in that it does not try to present a condensed version of the CCC. Rather, it provides a broader view. It briefly explores the development and history of catechisms to help show the roots of the CCC. It then provides general observations in the form of section overviews i.e., it offers some general summaries of each of the four sections of the CCC.

It mentions Mary only briefly when it discuss the Incarnation.  It makes mention of the CCC’s discussion of Mary’s predestination as Virgin Mother and God bearer and shows how the CCC “relates Mary’s life of faith to the earthly life of Jesus.”

Living the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Christoph Schonborn 1995

This four-volume set dedicates one volume each to the four main parts of the CCC. It is essentially a compilation of Schonborn’s weekly articles from the Vienna Catholic newspaper on “Essential Elements of the Faith” with the CCC as the main point of reference.

Mary appears explicitly in Volume One – The Creed, under the section: Mary - Mother of the Church, and again in Volume Four – Paths of Prayer, under the sections: Mary - the Woman of Prayer Who Intercedes, and, Pray with Mary; and to her also(?)

The Splendour of Doctrine: The Catechism of the Catholic Church on Christian Believing
Aidan Nichols, O.P. 1995

Nichols is principally interested in the first section of the CCC which discusses the Creed and as such, his book deals almost exclusively with this topic. A unique feature of this book, in contrast with the others mentioned in this presentation, is that the book consists of four principle chapters and is more of a discussion/commentary on the material of the CCC. Whereas the other books, for the most part, are divided into many chapters and each chapter is divided into many sections and parts, Nichols’ book is not.

The topic of Mary is found in the last two chapters as can be seen below.

Chapter V – Professing the Faith: The Creed on the Sonbring to

  • By the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. [58]
  • Mariology is founded on Christology and ecclesiology [62]
  • Christology can be illuminated by Mariology [62]
  • Mary once brought Jesus into earthly light’s domain [62]
  • The glories of Mary – her predestination, original righteousness, and virgin motherhood – have to do with the sovereign initiative of the Father [62]
  • The Annunciation is a ‘plenary’ moment filled with unsurpassable content [62]
  • Mary is the culmination of the series of holy women who stud the pages of the Hebrew Bible like stars. [63]
  • In Mary’s conception, the grace of the Old Covenant reaches its point of maximum penetration [63]
  • The Immaculate Conception means that, from the first moment of her existence Mary was wholly sustained by the sanctifying grace of God so that she could fully give her responsive ‘Yes’ to her vocation. [63]
  • Various traditions of the Church, Eastern and Western, have found different idioms in which to express Mary’s original righteousness. [63]
  • Mary’s Annunciation is a most wonderful example of the ‘obedience of faith’ [63]
  • Mary became a reversal of Eve’s act of disobedience [63]
  • Mary is the cause of salvation both for herself and the whole human race [63]
  • At the Annunciation, the Spirit comes upon Mary just as in all eternity he had rested on the Son [64]
  • The humanity taken form Mary fits and corresponds to the being of the Word himself [64]
  • Mary’s divine virgin-motherhood is defended in its historicity and in its divine rationale [64]
  • Mary’s virginity embodies a total self-donation to God and is a sign of authentic faith which entails a complete spiritual openness to him [65]

Chapter VI – Professing the Faith: The Creed on the Holy Spirit

  • The Mother of God is the greatest of saints [144]
  • Mary is the Mother of the Church [144]
  • Mary is the Church’s eschatological icon [144]
  • Mary was joined in the closest fashion imaginable to the person and achievement of the Redeemer [144]
  • The Mother of the Saviour, the holy angels and the entire company of the blessed co-constitute the city of the redeemed [155]

This is Our Faith: A Catholic Catechism for Adults
Michael Francis Pennock 1998

The author wrote this book for “those who are approaching the Catholic community for the first time.” He structured the book according to the structure of the CCC. The material is presented in a question and answer format.

Mary is covered in the section that deals with the communion of saints.  It deals with Mary’s role in the Church, some of her titles, the Marian dogmas, veneration for Mary, the Rosary and some other Marian devotions.  It also briefly explores what we can learn about prayer from Mary.

A Concise Catholic Catechism
Edited by Michael Shaughnessy 2002

This book is divided into four parts that loosely follow the CCC. It “summarizes in 450 paragraphs the key doctrines contained in the 2685 paragraphs of the CCC.” “It does not go into theological nuances or great detail, but provides a succinct outline of Catholic belief.”

Mary is found in the first part of the book that deals with the profession of faith under that portion of the creed that deals with Jesus’ conception and birth.  In this section we see that Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and that she is; virgin, the Mother of God, and the Immaculate Conception but there is no mention of her Assumption.  She is also mentioned in part four, the section on prayer, where praying with Mary and the Hail Mary are discussed.

Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
USCCB 2006

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCCC) is arranged in a question and answer format and follows the CCC’s order of presentation. It relies almost exclusively on quotes from the CCC to answer each of its nearly 600 questions.

The topic of Mary arises in several places which correspond to the same sections where Mary appears in the CCC. Some of the main points it makes with regard to Mary are as follows.

  • Mary embodied in a perfect way the obedience of faith
  • The Son of God became incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit
  • Mary was ever virgin, full of grace, conceived without sin and was assumed into heaven
  • Mary’s motherhood is universal
  • The Holy Spirit fulfilled in Mary the waiting and preparation of the Old Testament for the coming of the Christ

United States Catholic Catechism for Adults
USCCB 2006

This is an adaptation of the CCC and is intended for adult Catholics living in the United States, whether Latin or Eastern.  It is organized according to the same four part structure of the CCC although it presents its material in a different manner which includes stories, teachings, sidebars, cultural references, questions and answers, doctrine and prayer.

Mary is covered quite extensively as can be seen below.

Part I. The Creed: The Faith Professed
Chapter 4 - Bring about the Obedience of Faith
[37]

  • The Virgin Mary is the perfect model of faith.

The Faith Pilgrimage

  • Mary is the first among all disciples
  • Mary shows by her acts of trust in God that faith is a process of growth

Chapter 9 – Receive the Holy Spirit [104]

  • The Blessed Virgin Mary is the mother of Jesus
  • Mary is God’s masterpiece
  • Mary was transformed by God into a luminous witness of grace from the moment of her conception
  • It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that Mary conceived Jesus, the Son of God
  • Through Mary the Holy Spirit brings men into communion with Christ [CCC 725]
  • Mary’s life shows us the power of the Holy Spirit

Chapter 12 - Mary: The Church's First and Most Perfect Member [141-149]
God’s Plan for Mary

  • LG 54 (Mary “occupies a place in the Church which is the highest after Christ and also closest to us.”)
  • Mary is:
    • The first and the greatest of all the disciples of Christ
    • The Virgin of Nazareth
    • The Mother of the Savior
  • LG 56 (Mary “gave to the world the Life that renews all things, and who was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.”)

“Blessed are you among Women”

  • Mary was conceived free from Original Sin and this event is called the Immaculate Conception
  • CCC 491 (“… Mary, ‘full of grace’ through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception.”)
  • Mary is:
    • Full of grace
    • The Mother of God (Council of Ephesus: DS 251)
    • Called Theotokos (Birth-giver of God) in Eastern Churches
  • Mary’s virginal conception was accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit
  • Mary was virgin before, during and after the birth of Christ by a privilege of God
  • Mary’s life was dedicated exclusively to her Son and his mission.
  • LG 59 (“The Immaculate Virgin … when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of death.”)
  • Mary is seen as a figure of the pilgrim Church as well as the Church at the end of the journey.
  • LG 66 (“Mary figured profoundly in the history of salvation and in a certain way unites and mirrors within herself the central truths of the faith.”)

Mary as Mother of the Church

  • Mary is:
    • The Mother of the Church
    • United to her Son in his work of salvation
    • The new Eve
  • Mary was praying with the disciples for the coming of the Holy Spirit after the Ascension.
  • Mary intercedes for the Church and all humanity.
  • Mary gave birth to people in Christ.
  • Like Mary, the Church is virginal.
  • Mary continues in heaven to be concerned for the growth of all members of the Church into holiness and an intimate relationship with her Son.

Part II. The Sacraments: The Faith Celebrated
Chapter 14 – The Celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Christ

When Do We Celebrate?

  • The Church, with a special love, venerates Mary, the Mother of God which is evident in the number of Marian feasts which call us to admire and praise her as the outstanding fruit of Christ’s redeeming work.
  • Mary is intimately linked to the saving work of her Son.
  • Mary is the pure image of the kind of discipleship we hope to attain.
  • Mary prays for us, loves us, and always brings us to Jesus.

Chapter 17 – The Eucharist: Source and Summit of Christian Life [221]
The Mass is a Sacrifice

  • The Eucharistic Prayer recalls the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary who joins us in this act of worship.

Chapter 22 – Sacramentals and Popular Devotions
The Rosary

  • Many of the appearances of Mary, especially at Lourdes and Fatima, have been associated with the praying of the Rosary.

Part III. Christian Morality: The Faith Lived
Chapter 28 – The Fourth Commandment: Strengthen your Family
[378]
Parent’s Love for their Children

  • Parents should foster devotion to Mary.

Chapter 34 - The Tenth Commandment: Embrace Poverty of Spirit [454]
To Be a Christian Steward: A Summary of the U.S. Bishop’s Pastoral Letter on Stewardship

  • After Jesus, Mary is the ideal steward.
  • She lived her ministry in a spirit of fidelity and service.
  • She responded generously to the call.

Part IV. Prayer: The Faith Prayed
Chapter 35 - God Calls Us to Pray
[470-472]
The Sources and Manner of Praying
Prayer in Communion with Mary

Doctrinal Statements

  • “Because of Mary’s singular cooperation with the action of the Holy Spirit, the Church loves to pray in communion with the Virgin Mary, to magnify with her the great things the Lord has done for her, and to entrust supplications and praises to her.” [CCC 2682]

–Fr. John Fletcher
 

BIBLIOGRAPHY
A Concise Catechism for Catholics: a Simple Exposition of Catholic Doctrine: Based on the Catechism
Tolhurst, James
Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., c1993

A Concise Catholic Catechism 
Shaughnessy, Michael
London; New York : Burns & Oates, c2002

A Summary of the New Catholic Catechism 
Griffin, James A
New York: Alba House, c1994

Catechism of the Catholic Church 
Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Washington, D.C.: [distributed by] United States Catholic Conference, c2000

Compendium: Catechism of the Catholic Church
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Libreria Editrice Vaticana ; Washington, D.C. :, c2006

Exploring the Catechism of the Catholic Church 
Shannon, William Henry, 1917-
Cincinnati, Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, c1995

Living the Catechism of the Catholic Church: A Brief Commentary on the Catechism for Every Week of the Year
Schönborn, Christoph von
San Francisco : Ignatius Press, c1995-

The Seeker's Catechism: The Basics of Catholicism Presented in Light of the New Catechism of the Catholic Church
Pennock, Michael Francis
Notre Dame, Ind.: Ave Maria Press, c1994

The Splendour of Doctrine: The Catechism of the Catholic Church on Christian Believing
Nichols, Aidan
New Hope, Ky. : Urbi et Orbi Communications, c1995

This Is Our Faith: a Catholic Catechism for Adults 
Pennock, Michael
Notre Dame, Ind.: Ave Maria Press, c1998

United States Catholic Catechism for Adults 
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony Messenger Press, c2006

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