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THE CATHOLIC RELIGION
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN OF
THE REV. JOSEPH DEHARBE, S.J.
REV. JOHN FANDER
A Short History of Revealed Religion, from the
Creation to the Present Time
42 BARCLAY STREET
Very Rev. EDMUND T. SHANAHAN, D.D. Censor deputatus Catholic University of America April 16, 1908
Washington, D. C.
PREFACE TO THE SIXTH AMERICAN
The Catechism of Father Joseph Deharbe, S. J., first translated into English about half a century ago, has become so well known throughout this country that there is no need now to draw attention to its merits. It follows the triple catechetical method, using each in its appropriate place. The historical outline prefixed to the catechism proper furnishes, in sufficient detail, the historic proof of Revelation and the divine institution of the Church. The first part of the catechism treats of faith and what is to be believed; the second, of the Christian rule of life, i.e., the commandments of God and of the Church; the third, of the essential means of salvation, grace, and of the channels instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ for its communication. The dogmatic and moral teaching is accompanied by ample citation of proof from Scripture and tradition. Finally, the logical relation and sequence of subjects is insisted upon; so that the whole forms a well-articulated, comprehensive statement of our holy religion. It presents that religion truly, as a doctrine and rule of life embracing the whole man; given by God, through His Son, Jesus Christ, who has made it visible to men, and fruitful unto salvation in an enduring Society of which He is the Head, the Way, the Truth and the Life.
The present edition is based on the fifth American edition. No essential changes have been introduced; but many minor modifications, suggested by experienced teachers who have used the work for many years, have been made In a few places the order has been rearranged; simpler and more idiomatic terms and phrases have been substituted for others that were less familiar, or foreign in construction, or too technical. Some questions and answers have been recast for the sake of clearness; and some new ones have been inserted. In many cases where this has been done, as, for example, in the section on the creation of man, the new forms have been taken from the Catechism of Pius X. The historical sketch has been brought down to the present day; and, that it might not, in consequence, demand an unduly large share of space, some of the preceding paragraphs have been condensed. The changes which have been instituted in Church discipline since the publication of the previous edition have been incorporated. In the exposition of duties more account has been taken to make it meet the conditions of life in this country.
Some more changes in the text, looking towards further simplification, were suggested by persons interested in the work. It must be remembered, however, that, especially on dogmatic subjects, accuracy cannot always be safeguarded without a close adhesion to the language of theology. As Bossuet has wisely said, terms not understood at first may come to be understood later on by the help of reflection; and it is better that the less advanced and less capable should find things which they cannot quite understand, than that the more advanced and intelligent should be deprived of anything useful to them. Besides, this work is not intended for the younger children, but for pupils in the more advanced classes, of elementary schools, for high schools, colleges, academies, Sunday schools and for private instruction. THE TEACHING OF THE CATECHISM.
From the earliest days of the Church the instruction of the ignorant, whether adults or children, in the rudiments of the faith has ever been regarded as one of the foremost duties of the pastoral office. This kind of instruction, called catechetical, differs from the more general forms of religious teaching. The Council of Trent carefully marked this difference, and prescribed catechetical instruction as a distinct duty for all who have the care of souls. In his Encyclical on the subject, his Holiness, Pius X., describes the nature of such instruction. He first cites with approbation the words of his predecessor, Benedict XIV.: “Two chief obligations have been imposed by the Council of Trent on those who have the care of souls; first, that they address the people on divine things on feast days; and, second, that they instruct the young and the ignorant in the rudiments of the law of God and of the faith." Then Pius X. says: “It may be that there are some who, to save themselves trouble, are willing to believe that the explanation of the Gospel may serve also for catechetical instruction. This is an error which should be apparent to all. For the sermon on the Gospel is addressed to those who may be supposed to be already instructed in the rudiments of the faith. It is, so to say, the bread that is broken for adults. Catechetical instruction, on the other hand, is that milk which the Apostle St. Peter wished to be desired with simplicity by the faithful as newly-born children.”
Three methods are open to the catechist: the historical, the logical, and the liturgical. Divine Revelation