Why do Catholics pray to the Saints and Mary? Where do you find purgatory and praying for the dead in the Catholic Bible? Mary was only a virgin until the birth of Christ because Christ had blood brothers, right? These questions are just a few of the most commonly asked questions by non-Catholics to Catholics, according to Rev. A. W. Terminiello in his online article “The 40 Most Frequently Asked About the Catholic Church by Non-Catholics.” These are not easy questions to answer. How does anyone answer these questions?
I recommend using the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) is the official text of the teachings of the Catholic Church. Blessed Pope John Paul II realized that the Church needed an official text on Church teaching as a reference book, and thanks to the efforts of many, we have one! But how does one use this valuable resource to learn more about the faith and answer the tough questions many have about the Catholic Church?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church was made in a very easy to use way so that anyone can find the answers to their questions. The CCC comes with an expansive subject index which is over 60 pages long. If someone asks a question about a specific subject, then you look in the subject index and find the subject. Once you find the subject then the Catechism of the Catholic Church will tell you where the subject is handled. For example, let’s say you want to look up church teachings on purgatory. The subject index has purgatory as a subject and says “Purgatory: 1030-32” (CCC 809). Then you simply find those paragraphs 1030-32 and read all about purgatory. The CCC has numbered paragraphs and the subject index refers to paragraphs in which the subject your looking for is referenced. As you can see, the Catechism of the Catholic Church not only has the official teaching of the Catholic Church but is also easy to use.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church can also be used in two other ways. You can simply scan the table of contents to find the chapter on the topic you would like to learn more about, or you can read through the whole thing. One of the things that surprised me about the Catechism of the Catholic Church is how readable it is. In fact, you can read it front to back and it actually flows well due to its organization and structure of subjects. I personally have used the Catechism of the Catholic Church to refresh my memory on why we teach what we do on everything from sexual immorality to Christology. Do you have a Catechism of the Catholic Church? If so, how do you use it?