J.M.J. Any Catholic would conclude that one of the most vital endeavors in each parish is that of religious education. There's no argument: teaching the fullness of the Catholic Faith--whether to adults or children--is absolutely critical. If religious education suffers in a parish, the entire parish community will be adversely affected.
Reflect on Jesus' mandate: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations" (Saint Matthew 28:19). Our Blessed Lord urged His friends to teach as He had done. Passing along our Catholic Faith is an important consideration in the mind of Jesus and--by extension--in the mind of the Church.
It is paramount that solidly Catholic materials are used in transmitting the Holy Gospel to peoples of all ages. Orthodox catechetical materials do wonders for those who use them; vague and heretical texts, videotapes and audiotapes do incalculable harm to students and teachers alike. The former materials accurately convey the Faith left to us by Christ; the latter misrepresent and distort the gems of truth that are Jesus' "last will and testament."
An example of a fine work is Outlines of the Catholic Faith, published by the Leaflet Missal Company (976 W. Minnehaha Ave., St. Paul, MN 55104; 800-328-9582; www.leafletonline.com). The revised edition, available in bulk quantities at special rates, offers a summary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church--the normative compendium of the Church's teaching. Only 88 pages, Outlines is very readable and is accessible to those of various ages and backgrounds.
How may this book be used in Catholic religious education?
First, students themselves, especially those at the high school age and above, will benefit from reading this book, if not in their religious education classes then surely as "outside reading."
Second, teachers of any level can check their material by studying Outlines, making certain that what they teach is informed by the mysteries of the Faith enunciated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Third, parents will find this text valuable as a kind of supplement to the materials used by their children in their religious education classes. Moms and Dads will find that by adjusting the materials presented in Outlines to the level of their children, they can refer to various aspects of Church doctrine as a means of "shoring up" their children's understanding of the Catholic Faith.
Saint John Paul II, in his "Prologue" to the Catechism, hailed this long-anticipated work as "a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine and particularly for preparing local catechisms." Students, teachers and parents will discover that Outlines of the Catholic Faith is a helpful addition to religious education materials and goes a long way to ensuring that the pearls of wisdom contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church will be ever more appreciated by a larger audience intent on knowing, loving and serving the Lord Jesus Christ, Crucified and Risen.
Mary, Morning Star, pray for us!