The parish community is where theory stops and practice begins! In the parish the education of children and adults is often accomplished through volunteer catechists. Most have good intentions, some have little or no catechetical formation, and much of what they think they know is not true. In the United States the Bishops have tried to address texts that give insufficient attention to the Trinity, are not centered on Christ or who downplay his divinity, ignore the magisterium, God’s initiative, the doctrine of grace, the sacraments, sin and the moral life. However, for the parish catechist, even the best texts are chosen for them by someone else, and they are given little preparation. Relying on bits and pieces of childhood memories or practices are insufficient to serve the catechetical task at hand.
Almost twenty years ago it was into this confusion that the Catechism of the Catholic Church was developed and promulgated. Not since the issuing of the Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent four hundred years earlier had the magisterium provided one source to serve as the sure norm to deliver the deposit of the faith. Ironically, after the Second Vatican Council it seemed to many parish catechists that what they had been taught as children was no longer true. In reality the Council desired to rearticulate for modern man the same truths of Divine Revelation entrusted to the Church by Jesus. The new Catechism of the Catholic Church became part of the embodiment of the real “spirit of Vatican II”: collegiality, biblical renewal, ressourcement and boldness in the presentation of the faith.