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I am so grateful for the Catechism of the Council of Trent. It was more commonly called the Roman Catholic Catechism. Did you know that the Baltimore Catechism is based on the CCT?
Years and years ago, I had thought that it was a big hard book to read. No way. It's not any more difficult to read than any other high school catechism and it is so very interesting!
We've used it for several of our children for their high school catechism book. I marvel that, each time I read it with the next child, I find new treasures that apply to my own life. This is a very complete book of the Roman Catholic beliefs and was written in part by two saints.
The introductory pages are one of the best histories of a book that I have ever read. The prefatory article really helped us understand why it took so long to publish the catechism in the first place. The effort to publish a good English translation was super interesting including its list of who was involved in the Council two of whom were saints, Pope Saint Pius V and Saint Charles Borromeo.
The Council of Trent's (1545-1563) "main object was the definitive determination of the doctrines of the Church in answer to the heresies of the Protestants; a further object was the execution of a thorough reform of the inner life of the Church by removing the numerous abuses that had developed in it." (Trent, Council of; Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912)
The Council met at a small town in the Austrian Tyrol, named Tridentum which translates in English as Trent. It produced a large number of canons and decrees and condemned the errors of the Protestant Reformation. "Of the twenty Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church, the Council of Trent is universally regarded as the greatest-in the scope of its discussion, in the number of its pronouncements, and in the extent of its influence."
The Council of Trent made pronouncements on justification, the seven sacraments, the Catholic Eucharist, the nature of the Latin Mass (See the Incredible Catholic Mass), Transubstantiation, the sacraments of Catholic Penance, Extreme Unction, Marriage and Holy Orders, and numerous other topics of doctrine and discipline.
Among these were the confirmation of the Nicene Creed, the authenticity of the Latin Vulgate Bible and the canonicity of all and only the books contained therein, definition of the doctrine of Original Sin, affirmation of the doctrine of Purgatory and the invocation of the saints and veneration of them and their relics, and the nature and application of indulgences. The Council also called for the revision of the Breviary, publishing of a formal catechism (The Catechism of the Council of Trent), and the standardization of the Roman Missal, all of which were accomplished by St. Pius V.
Pope St. Pius V reigned at the end of this Council of the Catholic Church and was the one who standardized the Traditional Latin Mass which is one reason that many call it the Tridentine Mass or Mass of St. Pius V. "One of the first acts of the new Pontiff was to appoint a number of expert theological revisors to examine every statement in the Catechism from the viewpoint of doctrine." (Intro to The Catechism of the CCT, xxv)
Here is what Tan Books says: "General Description: In a brief pontificate of six years, Pope St. Pius V (1566-1572) vigorously promulgated the decrees of the Council (1545-1563), issued the Roman Missal, the revised Breviary, and the Catechism called by the same name (all of which has served the Church for more than 400 years), plus excommunicated Elizabeth I of England, established the Index of Forbidden Books, chose 314 bishops, wrote hundreds of bulls, and gathered an allied Christian force which destroyed the Turkish fleet at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, bringing to an end their dominance of the Mediterranean Sea. In this brief, popular biography Professor Anderson scrutinizes the character, virtues and achievements of a saint who has to have been one of the greatest Popes of all time." What a wonder!!!
The Catechism of the Council of Trent (CCT) has been the concise standard for adult Catholic Religious Education. It took two centuries to finalize a standard edition in a worthy English translation which was not available until the end of the 1800's! See Tan Books' version to see the history of the English translation of the CCT. It is an excellent example of the difficulties in publishing an excellent book!
"St Charles Borromeo was appointed to succeed ... as president of the Catechism committee ... To complete the work the new president enlisted the services of several more theologians ... St. Charles called to its service the greatest masters of the Latin tongue of that age." (Intro to The Catechism of the CCT, xxiv) It is a consolation to see saints as the main contributors in charge of the Council of Trent and its Catechism. We appreciate its concise presentation, easy readability, the interesting stories, and the many connections made to Bible stories and the Traditions of the Catholic Church!
The CCT is the most well known fruit of the Council and is available today from many companies and is even printed online by several. Our favorite edition is the Tan Books version, the only difference being the beautiful pictorial plate of "The Chair In Which St. Peter Sat As Bishop Of Rome". The other versions seem the same (all the way through page 163!) except for this picture. We know people who have found it the most valuable book in their adult Catholic religious education and others who have simply used it as a Catholic homeschool book for high school. It is plain and easy to read with some beautiful surprises! See page 81 ff. for the Particular and the General judgments!
It has an excellent guide for Sunday sermons (p. xxxix) that priests can use so as to cover what they should cover in their Sunday sermons each with a Dogmatic Subject and a Moral Subject. This way the faithful are more likely to learn what they should learn to be able to keep, practice and defend the Faith. This Sermon Program "embraces a complete course in Christian doctrine. The subjects are drawn from the Gospels and Epistles of the Sundays and Feasts, and are treated in the pages of this Catechism as referred to." (xxxix) Each year should cover the whole course in Christian doctrine!
We were edified by the explanations in The Catechism of Trent that used Douay-Rheims Bible quotes, expansions of ideas, and stories of the saints WITHOUT prevarication or dissipation of the basic Catholic beliefs.
Yet the Council had its own documents and findings and these are found in the book called The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent which is available from the many companies that carry Tan Books. The Catechism was "ordered by the Council of Trent" (Subtitle). See the above descriptions for more.
When we were looking for the definitive Roman Catholic catechism we found that this Catechism (Tan Books) is the most concise book for adult Catholic Religious Education. It uses only precise Catholic answers and is the standard for most of the question and answer catechisms such as the Baltimore Catechism.
The The Catechism In Pictures (69 Large Full Color Classic Pictures - see the previews) is even more precise especially for children! The pictures alone teach the Faith to both adults and children better than most catechisms I've used. It is out of print but a publisher in India was expected to be available in May 2009, yet now the publisher estimates that it will be late August and is grateful for our patience. Update 2011: It is now available with some edits, but it still has the same glorious pictures that are color enhanced. You can buy it at Amazon.
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